Birmingham Surrealists  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Birmingham Surrealists were an informal grouping of artists and intellectuals associated with the Surrealist movement and based in Birmingham, England from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The key figures were the artists Conroy Maddox and John Melville, alongside Melville's brother, the art critic Robert Melville. Other significant members included artists Emmy Bridgwater, Oscar Mellor, William Gear and the young Desmond Morris.

In its early years the group was distinguished by its opposition to a London-based vision of surrealism epitomised by the 1936 London International Surrealist Exhibition, that the Birmingham group saw as inauthentic or even anti-surrealist. By World War Two, however, surrealism was sufficiently well-established in both cities for both groups to form co-operative and often overlapping parts of a wider international surrealist movement.

The group would meet in the Kardomah Café in New Street, the Trocadero pub in Temple Street or in later years in Maddox's house in Balsall Heath, which would also often play host to more eclectic gatherings including figures such as jazz musician George Melly and the poets Henry Reed and Walter Allen.

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