On Tropism: Grand Union x University of Birmingham Art History & Curating



On Tropism

Grand Union and seven University of Birmingham MA Curating students are working together to launch On Tropism, a project platforming new bodies of work by three Grand Union studio artists, opening in June 2021. 

On Tropism consists of an online performance by composer Dan Cippico; illustrations displayed on billboards across Birmingham’s canals by Mengxia Liu and a mail art project by photographer Adam Neal. Each artist’s work is accompanied by online panel talks, providing space for everyone discuss the themes and topics addressed within their work in more detail. 

Birmingham Conservatoire trained multi-disciplinary composer and performer Dan Cippico will present a new composition, Wildforms, in the form of a series of video works presented on Grand Union’s website. Wildforms references childhood nostalgia through an evocative blend of electronica, ambient sounds, recorders, ukuleles, shakers and bells. 

Intended to facilitate a joint reflection on connection, love and loss after a year of isolation, Northfield-based artist Adam Neal’s body of work Until Then, takes the form of ‘mailed art’ packages. Until Then is Adam’s tribute to the joy, warmth and humour of his late grandmother’s legacy, and will be sent to twenty UK based participants for whom experiences of fondly remembering their elders especially resonate.  

Guided by the stories and memories of Birmingham-based canal residents, Mengxia Liu has produced a series of illustrations depicting the experiences of those who know our cities waterways best. These illustrations will be displayed in public art form, on billboards overlooked by Grand Union’s new canal side garden.  

‘Tropism’ is a biological term that usually refers to the movement of a plant’s growth, in response to external stimulus. It encapsulates how both curator and artists conceptions of art making and display have been challenged and expanded, during a time of rapid adaption to new and untested ways of working. The innovative mechanisms of display utilised by In Tropism are the result of approaching the many obstacles brought about by a global pandemic as an opportunity to think creatively.