Definitely (Maybe) Our Best Issue

WHERE ABBEY ROAD MEETS NEW STREET

Artist Temper is sat in his Jewellery Quarter studio next to a Chelsea shirt with his name on the back. It was a gift from Roman Abramovich, but he can't say much about the art he created for the Russian tycoon. His more public work has appeared on more than 100 million Sprite cans and is dotted all around The Cube. For his next collection, "cover:versions", he transformed 12 of music’s most iconic album covers. He paints them from scratch, giving the environments his trademark photoreal style, before adding characters that are an evolution of his street art days. They're all on display, at Castle Fine Art, the originals costing £45,000. We asked him about four of the 12.
THE BEATLES, ABBEY ROAD (Click the pic to see it alongside the original)
"I could tell when I was painting this one that there was lots of flash used in the original photo. Back when I was a kid, I didn't even think that there was a camera there, do you know what I mean? That’s how strong the original is. To do my version of something so iconic was a serious challenge. I didn’t want it to look a bastardised version of the original. I didn't want to devalue it. Didn’t want to look like I was mocking it. Some people will look at this and see it as a defacing, sure, but I think I've managed to tread the fine line of putting these two contrasting elements together."
OASIS, DEFINITELY MAYBE (Click the pic to see it alongside the original)
"I try to let the viewer create their own story of what's going on. Perhaps these characters are how a band would look these days, if they were just starting out. The guy on the sofa is on an iPad, is he taking a photo of the guy on the floor? Is he filming him? Chap on the chair, is he writing lyrics? Are they actually just a bunch of friends in a bedsit? Trying to open up these stories makes it art. People can look at it and create their own version. I ask the question; the viewers answer it."
THE VERVE, URBAN HYMNS (Click the pic to see it alongside the original)
"Richard Ashcroft is a great British storyteller and my characters bring out parts of what I know about being British. There's clues. The guy on the left has his 1966 football top and holds a flower - a nod to the English countryside. Tartan hat on character two; Scotland. His scarf; orange green and white representing our neighbours, Ireland. Note how the characters are wildly out of proportion. If they stood up, their arms would be down to their calves, which for someone like me who focuses on realism, was a battle. Pulling them out of proportion goes against what feels natural as an artist, but it's for the greater good of the image. As was removing a character from the original, to allow my version to breathe."
CYNDI LAUPER, SHE'S SO UNUSUAL (Click the pic to see it with the original)
"This one was a different discipline altogether. There’s a whole side of the double doors that you don’t see on the original. To reveal parts of the story that nobody has seen is a thrill, to me. I’m not an obvious artist - there’s graffiti on the original on the left side of door and it would have been so easy for me to incorporate different graffiti on the right. To not do that, to reveal a blank door, makes a statement. Even though I physically wanted to graffiti it, I’ve stopped myself."

Signed limited edition prints on canvas cost £395 (£195 on paper). See all 12 here or just pop in to see the originals for free.
(Click for a chance to win 2 tickets) 

PINT OF PEAKY?

A new beer from Sadler's Ales celebrating Birmingham-based, post-First World War TV drama Peaky Blinders has launched. The black IPA is brewed with five malts and five hop varieties. It's rich, dark but surprisingly moreish. Barrels have been dropped off at The Old Joint Stock (which being a Fullers pub is a coup for Sadler's), The New Inn, The Wellington and The Kings Head

BE MESMERISED

An exhibition of work by Zarah Hussain, one of the UK’s most exciting artists opens at BMAG, tomorrow (May 24 to November 2). ‘Symmetry in Sculpture’ presents visitors with intriguing 3D wall sculptures inspired by the complex patterns formed by repeating shapes found in Islamic art. This will be the largest ever display of Zarah's work, who has spent years perfecting the traditional techniques. Entry is free.

BOTTOM'S UP, LOKI

The veritable Birmingham institution and wine nirvana Loki celebrates its second birthday on June 14 and will be doing so, not just with wine, but with the stunning cookery of Clarke & Lee. Every ticket includes a glass of fizz, and two of Clarke & Lee’s legendary pork (or vegetarian) bao - check them out. Loki will be taking over the entire Great Western Arcade from 5pm to 11pm. Tickets cost £7.

BIRMINGHAM'S BEST CLASSROOM


Birmingham Architecture Festival starts today (full programme here) and the highlight might just be this £15 photography class. Focusing on shooting interiors it gives you the opportunity to go to the top of The Rotunda, into a stunning Staying Cool apartment. Photography tips and the best view in the city? Right here.
Venue: Saracens Head, Balsall Common, Coventry, CV7 7AS; saracensheadbalsallcommon.com
Choice: 18oz On the bone Sirloin (£29.95) Chooser: Restaurant Manager 


A 25 minute drive from central Birmingham to place your food order in the hands of a stranger is a gamble, sure, but it paid off. Our You Choose journey took us to Balsall Common, near Coventry, and a truly delightful countryside pub that not only has a stunning beer garden, but boasts one of only four josper ovens in the West Midlands, so the steak is stupendous. The 18oz, 35-day aged, on the bone sirloin comes with two sides, the onion rings proving wicked when dunked in blue cheese sauce. The steak itself was almost tear-inducing. Getting emotional just thinking about it. So much flavour, so tender, so darn worth the journey. Go. Make a day of it. Full menu here. High fives all round.
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