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Library of Birmingham seeks inspiration for Public Art Programme

Birmingham City Council is asking the city’s residents to help shape the public art programme for the Library of Birmingham.

All are encouraged to stop by to create a ‘Postcard to the Library of Birmingham’ with a short message and drawing to describe their journey to, and relationship with, the Library. A series of drop-in sessions, designed to help inform the programme, will be held in partnership with public art specialists Urban Condition on 12 - 14 January, 10.30am to 1.30pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm, in the foyer in Central Library. The responses gathered will help guide the decisions made over the coming months about the art projects that will celebrate the opening of the £188.8 million Library of Birmingham in 2013.

The artworks may be displayed throughout the Library of Birmingham, including the new exhibition and performance spaces, the rotundas and the Shakespeare Memorial Room. All artforms will be considered, including sculpture, photography, text-based work, new media and the performing arts, as well as temporary interventions and exhibitions.

Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“The new Library of Birmingham is a unique and exciting development and will house an amazing collection of literature, photography, music and other documents. The proposed art programme is intended to exploit this resource to the full, as well as draw on the very rich and diverse culture and history of the people of Birmingham. This is a chance for local people to have their say in what works of art are commissioned and I hope that as many participants as possible turn up and join in the workshops.”

As with all major new developments, it is a requirement of planning consent for the Library of Birmingham that there is public art provision. It is intended that the current research will develop into a programme of ongoing projects in partnership with other stakeholders, organisations and funders.

Already the public art programme has resulted in important and well-received new commissions. A Real Birmingham Family by Birmingham-born Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing in collaboration with Ikon Gallery will result in a life-size sculpture of a local family located in Centenary Square. Self Portrait Birmingham is an ambitious project to create a snapshot of today’s Brummies. The project builds on the influential Handsworth Self Portrait, which in 1979 recorded images of 500 local people which went on to be exhibited locally and around the country.