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The people of the Black Country have an unrivalled industrial and manufacturing heritage. But it is not a thing of the past – the area continues to be a creative place of re-invention and innovation. Black Country Echoes is a celebration of this amazing tradition – including a programme of working with local people who share our enthusiasm for recording this history. It will culminate in a major festival opening in September 2014.

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The Making of Mordor

mordor

Photo: Clive Arthur Gardiner, A Blast Furnace (1927), Empire Marketing Board poster © Manchester City Galleries

Wolverhampton Art Gallery
20 September 2014 – 17 January 2015

An exhibition exploring the links between JRR Tolkien’s depictions of his fantasy region of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings, and the Black Country of the early 1900s, which lay close to Tolkien’s childhood home. As well as images from Tolkien’s sketchbooks, The Making of Mordor features works by other 20th century writers and artists who have been influenced by the industrial powerhouse of the West Midlands. The exhibition includes letters, photographs and signed first editions of Tolkien’s novels, as well as iconic illustrations by concept artist Ted Nasmith. Contemporary responses to the post-industrial Black Country will also be on show, including works by Turner Prize nominee Richard Billingham, Brian Griffin and Euripides Altintzoglou, along with a dramatic forest installation by internationally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson.

Martin Parr – Black Country Stories

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Photo: © Martin Parr. The Black Country gained its name in the mid 19th century due to the smoke from the many thousands of ironworking foundries and forges.

The New Art Gallery Walsall
4 October 2014 – 11 January 2015

Over the last 4 years, Magnum photographer Martin Parr has been creating a photographic portrait and archive of life in the Black Country through photography, film and oral histories. Commissioned by Multistory with The New Art Gallery Walsall and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.