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Local people showcase their artistic talent

Subscribe to RSS RSSWednesday, 31st March, 2010

The Elders group in Handsworth at the story telling workshop

Talented families and community groups from Erdington, Perry Barr, Hodge Hill and Ladywood will see their works of art go on display in Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery from April 10th – July 14th as part of “In our Backyard” - an innovative artist-in-residence project to help engage local communities in the arts, which is a central objective of the city’s bid to be the first UK City of Culture in 2013.

Hundreds of local people were involved in the project, developed by Birmingham City Council’s Community Arts team, which ran for a year and saw four artists set up their studios in the communities, working with local people to create works of art which reflected their neighbourhoods.

The artists who took part were Mohsen Keiany - an internationally-recognised painter and illustrator; video and film makers Reel Access (George Fleming and Laura Breakwell); Eleanor Hoad- a cultural eco-artist with a keen interest in permaculture and issues of sustainability and storytellers Annamation (Anna Conomos and Susanna Willetts).

Works produced by the artists and local communities include a large scale mosaic based on by Islamic calligraphy, created by family groups in Ladywood; a filming and photography project made by under 5s and their parents showing community perspectives of Hodge Hill; the planting of fruit trees in Erdington High Street town centre arcade and creation of a map of fruit trees in the area - and a story telling project in Perry Barr, which worked with community elders to hear their tales and then helped young people to learn and re-tell them.

Annamation (Anna Conomos and Susanna Willetts) said of their project: “The residency has provided an amazing opportunity for us to develop a long-term relationship with the students and staff of Rookery School, Handsworth and members of the local community. We were able to witness the children's responses and the progress in their work through storytelling. By working with the children to find and perform stories from their cultural heritage it gave them a platform where they could appreciate their own background and increase awareness and respect for the 'other'.

“Our work also involved an Intergenerational Project between elders from the 'Golden Age Forum', Handsworth and some Year 6 pupils from the school. The aim of this project was to bridge the generational gap and to cultivate the age-old tradition of passing down stories, wisdom and anecdotes from the wiser and more experienced members of the community to the young leaders of tomorrow.”

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture added: “The works of art produced by the people of Ladywood, Erdington, Hodge Hill and Perry Barr are inspiring. Not only does it showcase the talent of our city’s residents, but it also helps to tell the story of Birmingham’s diverse communities.

“I am delighted that we have been able to bring arts and culture to life in four of our local neighbourhoods, but equally pleased that the works will now be on display at the Community Gallery so that thousands more people and visitors can enjoy them.”

A programme of events held every weekend at The Community Gallery from 10th April -15th May 2010 will also give many more local people a chance to get involved in the programme.

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Media Contact: Jason Lewis 0121 303 4266,