The visual arts offer of Birmingham 2022 Festival works with existing galleries and visual arts organisations in the city, and adds installations, community exhibitions, art led events and international collaborations.
The work explores many aspects of Birmingham and the surrounding region both historic and contemporary. From Julian Germain’s large-format photographs of multigenerational diverse families living in the area (Generations) to Toronto-based Jon McCurley’s exploration of the city’s industrial past in Monsters of the World, A Visual Journey charting Birmingham’s journey from a City built on Empire to the internationally renowned Karachi-based artist Adeela Suleman whose first solo exhibition in the UK, Allegory of War, uses everyday objects to pass political and social commentary.
Some visual arts projects within the programme focus on sport and include Jaskirt Boora’s People, Place Sport which explores the role of gender and ethnicity in sport and Georgia Tucker’s Fluitō, which brings the viewer into the escapist and meditative experience of swimming while also highlighting water inequality within Commonwealth Countries and ocean pollution.
The artists across the programme are a mix of local and international, particularly drawn from commonwealth countries to collaborate with the people of Birmingham.
FROM CITY TO EMPIRE TO CITY OF DIVERSITY: A VISUAL JOURNEY
Monday 4 April – Friday 29 April 2022
This exhibition tells the story of Birmingham’s evolution from a City built on Empire to the amazingly diverse city it is today. The centerpiece is an incredible collection of photographs taken by Birmingham photographer, Ernest Dyche, between 1910 and 1980.
MULTISTORY, JASKIRT BOORA, PEOPLE PLACE & SPORT
4 April – 31 August, Wednesbury Leisure Centre, West Bromwich Leisure Centre and Hadley Stadium Smethwick, Sandwell St Paul’s Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth Coach STation and Moseley Road Baths, Birmingham.
4 July – 31 August, Sandwell Valley Country Park
People, Place and Sport is a celebration of local communities and sport in the West Midlands. Artist Jaskirt Boora explores the role of gender and ethnicity in sport, through a series of portraits and recorded conversations.
The work also shines a light on the sporting hubs tucked away in our landscape, away from the large stadia, where grassroots sport takes place on a weekly basis.
MIDLANDS ARTS CENTRE, SHARON WALTERS, SEEING OURSELVES
Fri 15 Apr – Sun 26 Jun
Sharon Walters London-based artist will be presenting her first solo exhibition, Seeing Ourselves, at MAC. The show features many of the artist’s intricate paper cut pieces that unapologetically celebrate and uplift Black women beyond the monolith, emphasising the importance of being seen and heard.
Seeing Ourselves features a mixture of photographic sources, including the artist’s own photographs of female friends, magazine clippings, found and donated images, to create highly crafted hand-assembled works. Walters rarely applies self-portraiture, however for this exhibition she has made a new largescale, sculptural work, Beneath the Surface (2022) encased within a light box structure. This piece draws on the artist’s fascination with nature and the extent to which green spaces are racialised and her growing confidence to be seen.
WEST MIDLANDS OPEN
20 May – 25 September, 10AM – 5PM
The West Midlands Open exhibition celebrates the quality and diversity of the visual arts in the region, taking place at The New Art Gallery Walsall. The ambition of the Open is to exhibit artists from across the West Midlands, to showcase the talent from the region and to provide selling opportunities for artists. The show will present a diverse range of artworks that are representative of and relevant to our broad communities and audiences.
GRAIN PROJECTS AND MULTISTORY, JULIAN GERMAIN, GENERATIONS
27 May to September 2022
Birmingham 2022 Festival, working with GRAIN Projects and Multistory, presents GENERATIONS, taking place in Birmingham and the Black Country, in celebration of the city and region’s communities during the time of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. GENERATIONS celebrates families, individuals, diversity and the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands in large-scale photographic portraiture. Based on the format of the family portrait the artist will use a large format camera to work collaboratively with families of four and five generations from across the region. The photographs will be displayed largescale, will capture details and provoke questions about our life and times.
EASTSIDE PROJECTS: JON MCCURLEY, MONSTERS OF THE WORLD
25 June to 9 July 2022
Looking into the Commonwealth connections of Birmingham’s industrial past, this project by Toronto-based artist Jon McCurley focuses on the global chocolate trade through the lens of his Irish-Vietnamese roots, working-class family histories in the UK, and his parents’ experience of meeting whilst working for Cadbury’s.
EASTSIDE PROJECTS: RAJNI PERERA, TRAVELLER
3rd June to 6th August 2022
Rajni Perera expands on her visionary ‘Traveller’ series of paintings, pollution wear and sculpture for both a large-scale exhibition in Eastside Projects’ main gallery and a public mural on the eastern banks of the River Rea on the edge of Highgate and Balsall Heath.
Set after the end of white suprematism and ecological collapse, Perera’s ongoing series builds a complex, energised diaspora of climate refugees, habitats and survival mechanisms set against rapidly transforming landscapes. Perera’s travellers are imagined as ‘immigrant futures’, the artist’s science fiction metaphor for cross border resilience. The mutated bodies of the travellers indicate an evolutionary timescale thousands of years into the future, yet their humanoid shapes still connect them to earthly pasts. Escaping from a planet no longer able to support human life, and extending out of this world, and into space, each character occupies future worlds with a noble confidence and intelligence, interconnected through self and community knowledge maintained and valued as living culture.
EASTSIDE PROJECTS: AMY CHING-YAN LAM, LOOTY GOES TO HEAVEN
3rd June to 8th August 2022
A small Pekingese dog was taken from China at the end of the Second Opium War by British troops, brought to England, and gifted to Queen Victoria. This dog was renamed Looty, after the activity of “looting,” in reference to how the dog was found during the looting of the Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) outside of Beijing. Looty lived for twelve years at the British royal palaces and died in 1872. It is not known where she was buried.
Amy Ching-Yan Lam revives Looty’s story in the context of Birmingham, which is the current site of Crufts, the largest dog show in the world, as well as the home of Ty-phoo tea, a brand named after the Chinese word for doctor. The colonial trades of tea and opium were closely linked and directly led to the Opium Wars, and the arrival of Pekingese dogs in England informed new trends in dog breeding and showing.
HEW LOCKE: Foreign Exchange
From 14 June, Victoria Square
Birmingham’s city-centre sculpture of Queen Victoria is reimagined by acclaimed British-Guyanese artist Hew Locke for the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
Originally unveiled in 1901, Sir Thomas Brock’s marble figure of Queen Victoria was then recast in bronze by William Bloye and members of Birmingham School of Art in 1951. Locke’s vision is to create “an object of veneration, leading a battalion of other statues to represent the home nation throughout the Empire.” Locke’s interest in the power of statues originates from his childhood in Guyana where he passed a sculpture of Queen Victoria every day on the way to school. He has been reimagining historical statues for twenty years. Commissioned by Ikon, this is Locke’s first temporary public sculpture.
Hew Locke’s The Procession is a Tate Britain commission, currently on display there until 2023. Locke will also be working on the famous façade of The Met in New York, to be unveiled on 16 Sept 2022.
IKON: The Migrant Festival
14 July – 17 July
Ikon presents the fourth annual Migrant Festival – a four day programme mixing visual art, music, film and performance. The festival celebrates the contribution made by refugees and migrants to Birmingham and the UK, and highlights the migrant stories of artists in Ikon’s programme, including Abdulrazaq Awofeso and Osman Yousefzada. The Migrant Festival 2022 is part of Ikon’s Arrivals programme for Summer 2022, concerned with the international movement of people and ideas and organised to coincide with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
JACOB CHANDLER, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND
16 June – 5 September, Eastern Plaza, Birmingham New Street Station
This sculpture by Jacob Chandler, features an athlete full of power and dynamism. Chandler captures these moments with bold powerful lines, beautifully juxtaposed with the fluidity of the athlete. Chandler, whose relations worked in the West Midlands foundries, is proud to showpiece this work on his home turf.
The sculpture is linked to the Commonwealth with a toposcope denoting the direction and distance to each Commonwealth country. A QR code and webpage allows interaction with augmented reality artifacts.
FIERCE, THE HEALING GARDENS OF BAB
27 June – 17 July 2022
Fierce transforms a number of locations in Birmingham city centre with unique installations, art and events for everybody.
Following a consultation with queer creatives in the city, Fierce put out a call to assemble an arty, enthusiastic, politically engaged and intersectional steering group of future LGBTQIA+ arts leaders based in the West Midlands. Fierce will devolve power to Hassan Hussain, Simone Mendez, Eric Scutaro, Beth Steventon-Crinks and Patrick Vernon to lead this exciting project, as they collaborate with artists from Canada to New Zealand.
ADEELA SULEMAN, ALLEGORY OF WAR
Sat 16 July – Sun 9 Oct, Midlands Arts Centre
Internationally renowned Karachi-based artist Adeela Suleman is known for the social and political commentary underlying her sculptures, which are created out of everyday objects. This will be the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in a public gallery in the UK. The recurring motifs in Suleman’s work – organic subjects such as birds and flowers – form detailed, repetitive patterns, which are replete with symbolic meaning. Abstracted notions of loss and disappearance quietly resonate through her sculptures. In lieu of tombs, memorials and funerals, the works confront our earthly fears, but remain suggestive of transcendental relief. fragmented documentaries referencing recent violent and catastrophic occurrences within the artist’s socio-political landscape.
Supported by Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation, John Feeney Charitable Trust, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and The Roughley Trust.
GEORGIA TUCKER, FLUITO
23 July – 8 August, 10AM – 4.30PM
Fluitō is a new, immersive outdoor public art installation. The viewer is invited to enter two large sculptural cubes, placed one inside the other. This world within a world reflects the escapist and meditative experience of swimming whilst showcasing the incredible speed and agility of elite swimmers. Through immersive sound and an underwater reality experience, Fluitō also highlights water inequality within Commonwealth countries and ocean pollution.
EASTSIDE PROJECTS: THENJIWE NIKI NKOSI, EQUATIONS FOR A BODY AT REST
1 July to 8 August 2022
Equations for a Body at Rest is a multi-site video and multimedia artwork which explores the history and connotation of the Commonwealth Games. It is divided into two components: The Same Track, and The Name Game.
The Same Track is a video that plays on screens around the city and uses new and old footage and material to show how the Commonwealth Games have both changed and stayed the same over the years, implying the initiative is an ongoing political project centuries in the making.
The Name Game includes a series of posters that allude to old Commonwealth Games posters redrawn to explore the meaning of the current Birmingham 2022 iteration of the games. The posters include a QR code that expands the project with a vast array of online content.
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi is a painter and filmmaker born in New York in 1980 who lives in Johannesburg.
THE MIGRATION BLANKET
8 Mar, 22 June, 28 July-8 August
Screening on International Women’s Day, The Migration Blanket is a new animated short which acts as a show of solidarity between girls and women in Birmingham and the Commonwealth nations, calling for a greener planet and an end to violence against women.
The film features over 200 pieces of artwork from students, activists and vulnerable girls and women based in the UK, South Asia and Africa, born from a creative collaboration led by award-winning Birmingham artist and human rights campaigner Salma Zulfiqar.
BIRMINGHAM MUSEUMS TRUST BLOOD AND FIRE: OUR JOURNEY THROUGH VANLEY BURKE’S HISTORY
25th May-30 October
Evocative images taken by renowned photographer Vanley Burke will join archival material from his personal collection, in a new exhibition opening at Soho House, Handsworth in May, as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, taking visitors on a journey through the artist’s history and the Black British experience.
Opening on Wednesday 25 May, Blood & Fire: Our Journey Through Vanley Burke’s History, will see Burke re-examine his personal collection. In the 1990s he lost a number of archival materials to a house fire. The fire served as a turning point for his practice and this exhibition questions what it means to put these everyday objects into a curatorial and historical context, alongside some of Burke’s iconic photographic images.
WE ARE BIRMINGHAM
28 April Onwards
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery reopens on April 28 2022 with an exciting radical transformation of its iconic Round Room. We Are Birmingham will reflect the people of 21st century Birmingham.
Presenting a vivid celebration of the city that Birmingham is now, as well as aspirations of what the city could become, We Are Birmingham is a collaboration between a group of six young people from Don’t Settle and Birmingham Museums.
Created using items from Birmingham’s collections, the exhibition forms part of a culmination of a three-year programme to address representation and complex histories within the heritage sector, and to better understand how Birmingham celebrates and reflects on itself in an innovative and contemporary way.