1 September – 14 October 2017

Still from 'Terra Firma', an exhibition by Barbara Mihalyi

‘Suspect Objects Suspect Subjects’is a collection of works that question, highlight and respond to the victimisation of Muslim communities in Birmingham, the UK and around the world.


The exhibition addresses themes of government policy and monitoring, controlled identities and the cause and effect on individuals and subsequent impact on mental health. The artworks reflect on fear and racism as contemporary social factors, political currency and cultural memes. They target and immerse the viewer to echo the persistent attacks that surround Muslim communities, playing on the navigation of our reality and memory.


The use of advertising, installation, painting, sculpture, still and moving image explore the multi-faceted channels used to influence and fuel prejudice. Juxtapositions question the surreal ‘validity’ of suspicion and evoke humour, personal memory, and the experiences of duality and difference.



‘TERRA FIRMA’ by Barbara Mihályi

4 August – 16 September 2017

Still from 'Terra Firma', an exhibition by Barbara Mihalyi

Terra Firma is the first UK exhibition of emerging Hungarian artist Barbara Mihályi. ‘Terra Firma’ means solid earth; the earth beneath our feet, a sense of longing and belonging to a place. The exhibition brings together a collection of photographs and video blogs produced during Barbara’s residency in Birmingham.


Barbara’s residency is part of a series of residencies of Central and Eastern European artists at Centrala. Barbara spent four weeks living and working on a narrowboat at Sherborne Wharf, exploring Birmingham’s waterways by walking, cycling, boating, encountering and questioning, picturing and filming along the way.


In her video diaries Barbara documented the ups and downs of her residency in eight bite size vlogs. Although these are mostly light-hearted she doesn’t shy away from sharing moments of despair and loneliness which then turn into moments of epiphany with a little help from an ancient tree in a park. These playful videos could be subtitled a ‘Beginner’s guide to an artist residency’ where we find out how to deal with the temporary displacement of an artist residency.


If Barbara’s vlogs show a working process, her series of diptychs form a sort of personal directory of the characters she encountered on her way of exploration. These portraits are presented to us as the key to understanding fragments of the locality these people inhabit. Certainly for Barbara, these encounters provide a form of primary research; each person and their story add an other layer to the complexity that constitutes a sense of a place.


Finally Terra Firma is rounded off with a series of photographs projected on to the wall of the gallery. The selection of images shown here further document Barbara’s journeys in Birmingham. They are simultaneously poetic and trivial, seeking the essence of a place and a moment. We see a vast industrial landscape pop up following a homely interior of a narrow boat and suddenly we are back to a gigantic pile of coal at the Black Country Living Museum, then back to the streets of Birmingham where golden statues stare down to a rugged looking pedestrian.


Terra Firma is Barbara’s attempt to fathom a place and what it means to belong there. Her sensibility and playfulness thread through the elements of the exhibition at Centrala. Although she uses the specific context of Birmingham’s waterways as a starting point, a universal notion of belonging emerges through the myriad of images.




‘BIRMINGHAM BY PASS’ by Lucy McLauchlan

9 June – 8 July 2017



From June 9th to July 8th, we’re delighted to host British born Lucy McLauchlan. Lucy’s large-scale monochromatic paintings have covered multi-story buildings across Europe, gigantic billboards in China, windows in Japan, huts in The Gambia, Italian water towers, Norwegian lighthouse, Detroit car parks and abandoned NYC subway tunnels.


Implicit within her work is a deep respect for nature as she draws inspiration from her immediate environment; allowing it to inform and direct what is an intuitive and explorative process.


Within Lucy’s ongoing ‘investigation’ into some of Birmingham’s more unapparent areas, ‘Birmingham By Pass’ features new works referencing her days spent along the canals and waterways of Digbeth. Culminating in an installation at the intimate gallery space located just off the canal within Centrala.


Lucy’s residency runs from the 9th June to the 8th July, with works along the surrounding canal side.
For more information head to Lucy’s website www.beat13.co.uk or check out our Facebook page and our Twitter!


Residency in Collaboration with Supersonic Festival


Image credit: Matt.Beat13.co.uk



‘SEVENTEEN’ by Olga Grotova, Nika Neelova and Yelena Popova

28 January – 25 March 2017



As human lifespan keeps increasing, doubles of all the decades will occur. One could think of the ‘30s as the 2030’s or the 1930’s. In 1917 there was a Russian revolution. Russians still refer to it as ‘The revolution of the year seventeen’, but from this year it will mean both 1917 and 2017. Three artists in the show are drawn to this suggested doubling of history: a return to a fluctuating point in the past and reaching out to an illusive future. This suspended, circular, contemporary state of déjà vu gives rise to the idea of a reanimation of time.


Yelena Popova’s practice continually questions what painting can be and how it operates in contemporary conditions. The work pulls the histories of abstraction into sharper focus by magnifying the temporality of painting by exposing painting’s materiality. The recent Chemical Landscapes and Human Studies series pose a question of human endurance and presence. Popova’s slowly changing chemical reactions and shimmering images that withdraw into the canvas have an autobiographical reference to the secret town in the USSR, where Popova grew up – a centre of nuclear production and the site of a radioactive disaster.


The notion of the forbidden/secret zone had many connotations and meanings during the Soviet era. Like Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, Nika Neelova’s work is loosely based on the idea of a possible dissolution to our attachment to reality. Through exploration of the hypothetical future of geology the work exposes the modified ruins and techno-artefacts of a human dominated environment crossing various historical periods. The seemingly unearthed futile objects set against the movements of the earth and deep geological time. Exploring fluidity of matter through time, the work suggests the view of the world as a set of flows running in parallel to one another.


Just like in Olga Grotova’s video One, whose narrative is constructed around a kaleidoscopic timeline shuffling temporary planes inside a hermetic system, the initial false sense of continuity and historical references gradually brakes down. Three female characters question social relationships within their enclosed environments balanced between memory of the past and disintegrating memory of the future. Grotova’s works on canvas resemble action paintings, however, they deconstruct painterly gestures through mechanical methods of production and repetition. The use of screen-printing process and digital manipulations transform genuine marks into replicated fictions.



Aleksandra Natalia Koper

4 November – 7 January 2017



Centrala Gallery are proud to present for the first time in the UK the work of Aleksandra Natalia Koper. Koper is  an emerging Polish artist working in Painting,Computer Graphics and Sculpture, a Graduate of the  Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and The Polish – Japanese Academy of Information Technology. She finds her Practice and Philosophy straddling the European East and Far East. Her large scale banner works will fill Centrala Gallery walls using the techniques and practices of advertising  while her imagery subverts the the de-personalization and commercialisation of youth cultures.



‘EXODUS’ by Kamil Tatara

15 July – 15 September 2016



“EXODUS”, from the Greek ‘going out’, is a project developed by Polish artist Kamil Tatara. This work by Tatara responds to the situation caused by the humanities crisis, analysing Europe’s realities and takes an interesting focus from the Paul Gauguin:


“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”


Tatars’s main working medium used to be oil on canvas: “Painting. [I] decided that painting is [the] best way of communicating for me. Something I truly love and enjoy.”


However, following the 2015 Paris terror attacks, objects have been introduced into his work. He transforms essential attributes of media representation of refugees such as blankets and lifejackets and reflects them on the modern Western world. Tatara also likes to note that he doesn’t shed tears over social media reactions after the terrorist attacks and points out how powerless a common mass reaction really is.


“I think [the] only sense of making art is to intercept beauty in passing time. Right here, right now and i will do it with [a] language we all speak and understand which is Art.”


Tatara’s exhibition features as part of Centrala’s summer programme ‘Neighbourhood’s Project’. The project features a number of events and Saturday workshops; it looks to explore the themes of home, migration and displacement by looking into the richness of culture and faith in Digbeth and the surrounding areas.




22 April – 31 May 2016



Centrala Gallery presented an Exhibition selected from the participants of an Open Call to young and emerging artists from the Central and Eastern European Diaspora.

5 artists were selected from an entry of over 50 applying from the UK and Europe.
The Selected Exhibiting artists were:

Olga Guse
Karolina Korupczynska
Alex Maczkowski
Emilia Maryniak
Sylwia Narbutt