The World Reimagined comes to Birmingham

Published: Wednesday, 20th October 2021

National art education project featuring globally-recognised artists comes to Birmingham next year to transform how we understand the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact on us all.

  • Launched in May 2021, The World Reimagined is a national art education project that works to transform our understanding of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact on all of us to help us make racial justice a reality.
  • 1m+ people will engage with sculpture trails in host cities, which will include Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London and Swansea, with more to be announced
  • Participating artists and icons 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.
  • Community Co-ordinators will work with local community organisations to co-create meaningful spaces for conversations, highlight and celebrate local stories; and host their own activities and events as part of The World Reimagined.
  • The World Reimagined is inviting artists, schools and businesses to get involved - in the Open Call for artists; a creative Learning Programme for schools; and broad partnership opportunities for businesses.
  • Excited by the project’s innovation and ambition, Sky has joined as The World Reimagined’s Official Presenting Partner.

Birmingham City Council today announced that Birmingham will be a host city for The World Reimagined - a national art education project that works to transform our understanding of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its impact on all of us to help us make racial justice a reality.

In development since 2019, The World Reimagined will see trails of large globe structures in cities across the UK in 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.

The base Globe sculpture that will be the canvas for all participating artists was conceived by Yinka Shonibare CBE. Shonibare also, vitally, conceived and created 'The World Reimagined' - the first Globe sculpture that will be featured in the trails, after which the whole project of The World Reimagined has been named.

Confirmed participating artists and icons so far include The World Reimagined’s Founding Artist Yinka Shonibare CBE; Lakwena Maciver; Zak Ové; Nicola Green; Maxim (Prodigy); Sir Trevor McDonald and Lina Viktor.

Artists who sign up to the Open Call will be able to access Masterclasses and 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.

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 will deliver significant, proven community benefit as well as economic and visitor uplift as Birmingham continues its recovery from COVID.

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 and place.

Alongside Birmingham, The World Reimagined will see trails in 7 other cities across the UK, with 250+ schools and colleges will participate in an experiential learning programme and 1m+ visitors will actively engage with the trails.

With a range of partnership opportunities available, The World Reimagined calls on businesses across the UK to sign up and make a powerful commitment to a future of racial justice. Sky are The World Reimagined’s Official Presenting Partners.

The World Reimagined trails are being delivered in partnership with global public art producers, Wild in Art, who have a proven track record of creating world-class events which entertain, enrich, inform and leave a lasting legacy. Previous work includes the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascot trail, the award-winning Bee in the City in Manchester and The Big Hoot and The Big Sleuth trails in Birmingham.

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.”

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