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Black Sabbath fans take to the stage in the Home of Metal 2

a photo of the back of bald man featuring tattooed portraits of the original members of Black Sabbath

Oz Freeman, Birmingham. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

A season of exhibitions celebrates Birmingham and the Black Country as the birthplace of Heavy Metal with a massive Black Sabbath exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

BMAG’s suitably monumental exhibition charting the rise and popularity of arguably the city’s finest export – the world’s first Heavy Metal band, Black Sabbath – features an impressive 1,000 items celebrating the iconic band and their fans.

Created by Home of Metal, the company putting Heavy Metal on the map in Birmingham, in collaboration with the band and designer Morag Myerscough, the exhibition tells the story of Black Sabbath’s unique cultural legacy as pioneers of the cultural phenomenon, Heavy Metal.

Treasured personal items have been sourced direct from Sabbath members including Ozzy Osbourne’s crucifix, Tony Iommi’s home studio and outfits worn on stage at some of the band’s most infamous shows.

They include white platform boots, golden crucifixes, silk shirts and scarves, skull and cross bone paraphernalia, leather jackets and that staple of the 70/80s Heavy Metal fan – the sleeveless denim ‘battle jacket’ – emblazoned with band patches sewn on by your mum.

Yet to really get a sense of the band’s continuing appeal it’s the collection of photos of the band’s global fan base – a fandom that apparently transcends age, gender, race and religion – that brings home the true power of the Sabbath and the Heavy Metal aesthetic they pioneered.

The Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection runs into the thousands and captures Sabbath fans from Birmingham to Botswana – many of them in their heavy metal finery, which ranges from leathers and tattoos to denim and band t-shirts.

UK

a photo of a mature woman wearing a Black Sabbath T-shirt

Liz Viles, Birmingham. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a pre-teen girl wearing ear defenders, check shirt and bomber jacket

Sarah Jordan, London. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a bloke wearing a beany, round glasses and Ozzy Osbourne shirt

Gary Mason, Manchester. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a young woman with long hair and Black Sabbath t-shirt

Yasmin Charles, London. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Botswana

a photo of a yong Botswana'n woman with spiked colured hair, jeans, combat jacket and and Vultures of the Seventh Planet T-shirt

Heartsfelt Naz Lenkeps. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a Botswanan man with bald head, tattoos and sleeveless leather jacket

Taliban Beast. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Another common denominator for this devoted tribe of fans is the worldwide symbol of heavy metal, the sign of the horns, which was popularised by sometime Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio after he joined the band in 1979. He later claimed his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye.

As well as the collection of worldwide portraits the exhibition is packed with rare memorabilia, portraits and collections from the devoted fan base, there’s even a recreation of super-fan Stephen Knowles’ living room, which is a homage to Black Sabbath.

As Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler puts it: “I’ve always maintained that Sabbath fans are the most loyal and honest and most independently minded of all. I thank each and every one of them for their incredible support over the years.”

Netherlands

photo of a bearded dude wearing black and gesticulating with both arms raised

Chuck Watkins, Netherlands. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a girl with pale make up and multi coloured long hair with a seated guy waering a baseball cap and sleeveless jacket

Sam Oyen and Stijn Kenens, Netherlands. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Indonesia

a photo of a young woman wearing a hijab and black heavy metal styled clothes

Siti Rukoyah, Indonesia. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Hendro G, Indonesia. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

The BMAG show forms part of a season of exhibitions in a range of venues across the city celebrating Birmingham and the Black Country as the birthplace of Heavy Metal, with artworks from acclaimed artists including Alan Kane (UK), Ben Venom (US), Monster Chetwynd (UK), and Przemek Branas (Poland).

Kane’s 4 Bed Detached Home of Metal at The New Art Gallery Walsall, (until September 1) is a replica bedroom house recreating the bedrooms of some of Metal’s most devoted super fans, incorporating a ‘Metal Lounge’ which features new work from Una Hamilton Helle and Mark Titchner, as well as a range of contemporary artists including Jeremy Deller, Jim Lambie, Sarah Lucas and David Shrigley.

All This Mayhem at MAC (Midlands Art Centre) (until September 8) sees US artist Venom use traditional quilting and Heavy Metal aesthetics to create textile-based pieces which contrast the counterculture components of gangs, punk/metal music and the occult with the comforts of domesticity.

Alongside, Hand of Doom (also until September 1) a further collection of portraits shows Black Sabbath fans wearing the ubiquitous battle jacket.

Chetwynd’s Hell Mouth 3 at Eastside Projects (until July 27) is a homage to Penelope Spheeris’ three-part film series The Decline of Western Civilisation (1981 to 1998), which explored the LA music scene through punk and metal, via a typically large-scale sculptural and performative spectacle while Branas’ exhibition at Centrala (until August 11) sees the award-winning Polish artist present an archival and research-based display of letters, cassette tapes and zines, collected by Polish fans at a time when Heavy Metal music was banned in Poland.

Brazil

a photo of a young woman with a long hair and leather jacket holding a Black Sabbath sign

Gilane Rizzo, Brazil. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

photo of a dude wuth long hair and piercing pulling a heavy metal pose

Marello Pompeu, Brazil. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Lebanon

a photo of a woman in black and dark sunglasses

Sally Mire, Lebanon. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo f a young guy with black sabbath t shirt and sleeveless denim jacket playing air guitar

Mohammad Yatim. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Egypt

a photo of a young woman with long hair, glasses, black t-shirt, jeans and tattoos

Michelle Mercado. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of an Egyptian man smilimg and making a heavy metal hand gesture

Fouad Al Khamy. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

USA

a photo of a woman with glasses and red hair and a colourful dress

Allison Wolfe, USA. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a guy with a beard holding up is hand iin a devil sign

Mountain Dewey, USA. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Spain

a photo of a young woman with orange hair

Marysa, Spain. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

a photo of a middle aged male and female couple in heavy metal t shirts

Marta and Miguel. Home of Metal Fans Portrait Collection. © Home of Metal

Home of Metal: Black Sabbath – 50 years runs at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until September 29.

For more on Home of Metal, including exhibition,  booking and event details see www.homeofmetal.com

venue

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham, West Midlands

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) first opened in 1885. It is housed in a Grade II* listed city centre landmark building. There are over 40 galleries to explore that display art, applied art, social history, archaeology and ethnography. Galleries to Visit The art gallery is famous for its Pre-Raphaelite…

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