Arts Lab revisited
Each Flatpack pays homage to a 'patron saint', a figure who has helped change the way we see film, and this year we're doffing a cap to an organisation: the Birmingham Arts Lab. The Palais will be home to a series of events as well as a small exhibition exploring this unique collective and the mark they left on the city.
Sprouting from a series of one-off events in the late 60s which combined live music and hallucinatory light-shows, the Lab became a cornerstone of Birmingham's underground arts scene. Setting up an unlikely home in a former youth centre in Newtown, their programme mixed film, theatre, visual art, live performance, experimental music, poetry, and anything else they could squeeze in. They also set up a print workshop which produced a stream of amazing (and pioneering) silk-screen posters. Money was tight, ideas were in abundance, and the coffee was murky. While most of the arts labs which sprang up in the late 60s died out fairly quickly, Birmingham's persisted and thrived for over ten years, eventually transmogrifying into the Triangle cinema on Aston University's campus.
Lab alumni went on to have interesting and varied careers, and some of them will be returning to share their stories. In addition it'll be an opportunity to remember Pete Walsh, the passionate and knowledgeable film programmer at the Lab and Triangle who passed away late last year. (See this Sight and Sound obit for more background on Pete.) We'd like to connect the Lab legacy with what's going on in Birmingham today, and you'll have a chance to see the kind of things they put on as well as making your own screen-prints.