Birmingham City Council photo
The city council has announced that Birmingham will be a host city for The World Reimagined - a national art education project that will work to transform our understanding of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact.
Organisers are also inviting artists to take part in the project by submitting up to two designs which will be considered by a prestigious jury including Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili CBE.
How will the project work?
In development since 2019, The World Reimagined will see trails of large globe sculptures in cities across the UK from August to October 2022.
The sculptures will be created by artists to bring to life the reality and impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade – responding to the themes ranging from ‘Mother Africa’ and ‘The Reality of Being Enslaved’ to ‘Still We Rise’ and ‘Expanding Soul’.
The Globes will be created by both established and undiscovered artists, alongside unique collaborations that bring together national and international icons and communities with local and global artists.
Participating artists include 2004 Turner Prize nominee and The World Reimagined’s Founding Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE, as well as Lina Viktor, Zak Ové, Sir Trevor McDonald, Lakwena Maciver, Maxim (The Prodigy), Nicola Green and Kimathi Donkor.
The announcement comes during Black History Month, and co-ordinators will work with local community organisations to create meaningful spaces for conversations, highlight and celebrate local stories, and host their own activities and events as part of the project.
Here’s how you can get involved
The World Reimagined is inviting UK-based visual artists working in the mediums of paint, photography, drawing, mosaic, sculpture and collage to take part in its open call.Organsiers are asking artists to submit up to two designs in response to the themes of the Journey of Discovery, with the full submission completed by 5pm on the 31st December 2021.
During the open call period, there will be a series of masterclasses with leading artists; curators and historians. Taking place online, these masterclasses are free and open to all, and they will give deep insight into how art and history can combine to create change and invite you to travel through time with leading history experts.
Artists who sign up to the open call will be able to have their designs considered by a jury that features Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili CBE, senior curator Renée Mussai, Chisenhale Gallery Director Zoé Whitley, and Professor Matthew Smith, Director of UCL’s Centre for the Study of Legacies of British Slavery.
You can find out more here.
The trails will be the centre of a broader learning and community programme - with schools, community groups, sporting and cultural institutions from across Birmingham taking part – that the council says will deliver ‘significant, proven community benefit as well as economic and visitor uplift’ as Birmingham continues its recovery from the pandemic.
Birmingham’s historical connections to the Transatlantic Slave Trade
The World Reimagined team will work closely over the next year of development with people, organisations and communities across Birmingham to ensure that the final trails and activities are deeply connected to Birmingham’s communities.
Michelle Gayle, co-founder of The World Reimagined, said: “If we’re going to make racial justice a reality for all, it calls on us to courageously face our shared history with honesty, empathy and grace. If we do that, we can create a future in which everyone can say I’m seen. That’s the mission of The World Reimagined and we’re so delighted to work with the people and communities of Birmingham.
“Given Birmingham’s deep historical connections to the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the city’s manufacturing sector, it was very important for The World Reimagined to take place here, building on the powerful dialogue being had in the city around our shared history and racial justice.
“The response we’ve had so far from communities, artists, school - everyone - shows the desire for a multi-dimensional telling of our shared history – honouring the many people and organisations who have worked in pursuit of racial justice and extending an invitation to all to join the conversation. We hope you will join us.”
Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, said: “There are stories in Birmingham’s history that we need to own: whilst we can’t rewrite history, we can and must learn from it. The World Reimagined provides a creative and vital opportunity to do just that.
“The World Reimagined faces up to the facts of our city’s historical connections to the slave trade through its manufacturing sector, but it also provides a platform for our diverse communities to share their stories and have conversations, so we can ensure that in the Birmingham of 2021, tackling inequalities is everyone’s battle and everyone’s business.”
One million people will engage with the sculpture trails in host cities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London and Swansea, with more to be announced.
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