Interactive Community Art Trail Launched in Lozells
A series of murals have been unveiled throughout Lozells in Birmingham as part of an interactive art trail created to inspire local residents.
The powerful and vibrant artworks have been designed at 10 different locations across the north Birmingham neighbourhood by artist Bunny Bread as part of Gallery37, a city-wide 3-year visual arts project helmed by community social empowerment organisation Saathi House. Titled ‘Downlow’ and launched in Georges Park on Saturday (23 October), the colourful mural trail is tied together by interactive QR codes which visitors can scan on their phones to find out more about the story behind each street art presentation.
The bold urban creations are accessible to all regardless of digital literacy and can be enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area even without smart devices and apps. Commissioned to “re-animate” and bring together local communities and encourage more physical exercise post-lockdown, the series of murals have been produced in partnership with The Active Wellbeing Society, Sport England and Punch.
Among the innovative artworks aiming to connect with the local population are tributes in Heathfield Road and Lozells Road to the Windrush generation of nurses “who saved the NHS”, a portrait of boxer and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali; and flowers to commemorate all the lives lost during the ongoing pandemic.
“There is no better time to celebrate the NHS nurses who swooped in during Windrush and became the backbone to a failing structure at the time,” Bunny Bread said at the Downlow launch.
Another nearby mural immortalises reggae band Siffa Sound System performing at Handsworth Carnival in 1983, inspired by a photograph captured by renowned photographer Vanley Burke. Additional artworks portray a young Muslim skater girl who consented to her likeness being recreated on a wall in George Street, and an African proverb illustrated on large letters on the same street.
Artist Bunny, who is also an established DJ and designer, collaborated on the community arts project with Jason Caballero and Simone Linton; who form creative group ‘Create Not Destroy’. The trio said their work reflects empowerment of the “ecosystem that lives within the community”.
With a mission to transform ten walls with untold stories, quotes and thought-provoking activism, the artists also used the opportunity to also update murals previously created in Georges Park, working with local residents to spruce up a key recreational spot in the area.
Leading the mural trail launch, Bunny told residents it was “designed for distance! Street art is not just about Digbeth.
“The Commonwealth games is coming. When people come to Birmingham, I want people to be like ‘there’s some great art in Lozells too’.
“There’s economics to art. People will visit the murals and buy food, which will hopefully continue to invest in Lozells.”
Mashkura Begum, chair of Saathi House, said: “Creating public artworks that are local and accessible to our communities is incredibly important in north Birmingham, especially in areas such as Lozells, Handsworth, Perry Barr, Erdington and Aston.
“This is an incredible project. Thank you to everyone who has been involved, in particular Bunny Bread.”
Lozells Police team attended the launch and commented: “Great to see more amazing work in Lozells adding vibrant murals that reflect the community, lovely to chat with Bunny and the passion behind his work.”
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