A UTOPIAN vision of North Solihull by artist Tony McCorry is on display in the borough this month.
The Accommodation exhibition, at Solihull Gallery, features surreal and vibrant paintings of local city scenes by Chelmsley Wood artist Tony.
“As a child I was moved to the brand new housing estate of Chelmsley Wood,” said the 48-year-old who now lives in London. “It was hailed as the end of the Birmingham housing crisis but, like a lot of places produced at that time, it was well intended but problematic.
“We were dumped out on the edge of the city. There was no employment, just a lot of isolation, frustration and violence.
“My work was trying to do something about it, try to make people proud of the area.
“I didn’t want to depict broken needles, stained streets... I just wanted to give the place some dignity. Some people paint urban decay but have no sympathy for the people living there.
“I wanted to idealise it, give it some value beyond what it is. Show it as the modernist and utopian development it was supposed to be.”
Art lecturer Tony admitted his art had saved him from a life of crime: “Without art, I’d definitely be in jail now. I’d been in trouble with the police but art was the thing that inspired me to change. It was definitely a massive escape.”
All of his piece features disquieting surrealist utopias, from housing estates to pubs and chip shops, painted either in the clean, straight lines reminiscent of computer games or innocent childlike pictures of his hometown.
“The places I grew up, they haunt me in dreams. That’s why they’re really simplified and childlike, because they’re from the memories I formed as a child.
“Others I seek out. The most maligned places are the ones I’m drawn to. I feel angry about the state of it and sorry for the people that live there who don’t have any choice.
“I want to make it better. To me, it’s really important what the people from the area you’re painting, think of their work.”
n Accommodation, Tony’s first exhibition back in the borough, is at Solihull Gallery until June 30.