A Birmingham Artist Has Made His ‘Parliamentary Debut’ After Being Invited To Exhibit His Work At The House Of Commons.

07 July 2023

Realist painter Rick Garland, who launched his career in Moseley 13 years ago, was invited to London by a leading environmental charity.

Now based at Birmingham’s leading art gallery in the Colmore Business District, Garland mingled with MPs and members of the House of Lords at a launch to debate how pollution is threatening the UK’s endangered rivers.

At first glance, the painting he was asked to show at the Commons, depicts a beautiful watery scene in rural England, with weeping willows and pretty flowers on the bankside.

But if you inspect the painting, named ‘Nympheas Detritus’, more closely, the water is strewn with submerged rubbish and litter, plastic bottles and discarded crisp packets.  

“I feel very strongly about environmental issues and I want to get that across in my work,” the artist said, speaking at the Commons launch hosted by River Action UK.

The charity this week launched its new ‘Charter For Rivers’ which is campaigning to restore Britain’s rivers back to health. Among those attending the event was the charity’s Vice Chairman Feargal Sharkey, an environmental campaigner who is best known as the former lead vocalist of the Irish pop-punk band, The Undertones.

Garland added: “Of course, it’s been great to make my ‘Parliamentary debut’. I think the issue of our rivers and the environment is really important and I’m very pleased to support the charity. They are getting stuff done. I spoke at some length with Feargal, who is clearly very passionate too.” 

The artist’s current Birmingham exhibition ‘Embers’ is now on at the Colley Ison Gallery. Director Tim Ison said: “I’m very proud and it’s great that Rick is involved. Sadly, many of Birmingham’s canals are also horribly polluted. 

“It’s an amazing privilege to have been invited to exhibit our artist at the House of Commons and it’s a feather in the cap for the gallery. It was also a privilege to attend such a historic venue.”

River Action CEO James Wallace said: “Art needs to have a message and this painting by Rick Garland certainly does. We believe we are facing a catastrophe with our rivers, which are about the worst in Europe.

“They are affected by sewage, agriculture and chemical pollution. We have a fresh-water emergency and Rick has very cleverly brought our attention to the waste in rivers. 

“It’s a very thought-provoking painting. The fact that it’s cans and bottles doesn’t matter, it’s all about pollution. It makes me sad to look at his picture, but it also gives me hope as we want to get our message across.”

A prizewinning master of his craft, Rick Garland launched his solo career as a painter in Moseley 13 years ago. He focuses on atmosphere and light, transforming abandoned and derelict spaces into captivating and engaging images. He Today, he has built up a strong network of collectors across Birmingham, the West Midlands and internationally, especially in America.