Some 294 days in the making, the artwork is a blend of contributions from people across the Commonwealth and has been created to celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and arts and culture in the West Midlands.
Originally launched by the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) – the first economic legacy programme of its kind aligned to the Games, and the first to operate before and after the Games – the Relaytionship was conceived as an ‘unfinished poem’ by spoken word poet and Birmingham native, Amerah Saleh.
In her poem, Saleh called on people across the Commonwealth to complete the poem and help audio visual artist, Tommy Xiao Ji, transform it into a fluid piece of digital artwork.
The Relaytionship has been evolving alongside the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay, gathering contributions from those across the Commonwealth answering the question “What does Home and Incredible mean to you?”, which is part of Saleh’s poem.
The artwork, including the Commonwealth contributions, and the second half of Saleh’s poem, was unveiled today (5 August) at Tourism Day at UK House: The Commonwealth Business Hub.
The artwork will now be on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until 30 September.
Amerah Saleh commented:
“We have been asking communities around the Commonwealth: ‘What does home mean to you? What does incredible mean to you?’ and it is inspiring to see how these responses have shaped the final artwork. As we hoped to demonstrate when we launched the Relaytionship, we are all more connected that you would think. Viewing the final artwork in one of the region’s most iconic venues will be a truly proud moment!”
Andrew Fowles, Learning & Access Manager, Birmingham Museums Trust, said:
“Birmingham Museums has a vision to nurture, celebrate and promote the creativity and diversity of Birmingham and the West Midlands in new and interesting formats, with digital arts at the heart of this.
“The unique piece of hyper hybrid art and its themes of Home and Incredible will help tell Birmingham’s story and its connections to the wider Commonwealth during the international spotlight of the 2022 Games.
“The Relaytionship will be accessible to the public during the Games at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery between Saturday 6 August and Friday 30 September, and we look forward to seeing it on display.”
Audio visual artist, Tommy Xiao Ji, said:
“It has been truly special working on the Relaytionship and seeing first-hand how this artistic celebration has brought communities across the globe together ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Relaytionship embodies everything that we know and love about the West Midlands while also reflecting the spirit of other cultures and communities.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
“With its international standing and influence, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is an ideal location for the Relaytionship to make its homecoming and we look forward to unveiling it to the public in August.
“The West Midlands is a region bustling with vibrant cities, beautiful countryside, world-class tourism venues, engaging attractions and diverse arts and culture – and there’s never been a better time to visit!”
The Relaytionship will be unveiled at the museum from Saturday 6 August. To find out more, visit makeitwm.com/relaytionship.
THE RELAYTIONSHIP POEM
We are tiny galaxies that pass each other quietly.
We know when to come together,
When to stand behind one another.
We are multiple worlds colliding,
Ready to embrace.
Put the sun in your suitcase,
Put the maps of the places you’re going to away,
We are your tour guides.
We’ll show you the architecture of our youth,
The back to backs of our histories,
The living and the dead,
The gardens of our stories.
This galaxy is a combination of dreams and nightmares,
At least we know that.
We get up every morning,
Continue to build on the shoulders of our heroes.
Spin our world around,
Tell us we are not the greatest,
But we are in the middle of greatness.
Tell us what incredible is and we will provide?.....
We are the place you breathe at a human pace.
The beauty of the capital,
But the peace of a second.
We can be children again,
Tongues out at funfairs,
Lollipops for being brave.
To travel to another place,
And find something new.
What does home mean to you?
We are unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Courage swimming through water,
We are small fish, finding our feet.
In water, sand, soil and concrete,
Anything that makes us happy to be alive in that moment
For one moment,
It makes our heart skip a beat.
You can call The West Midlands
We call ourselves a place to crash,
The middle, the balance, the sweet spot
A friend to talk to when the days gone bad
A pillow, or two, maybe even three
Leaves of Autumn, or growth of Spring
All the beautiful places we overlook
We call ourselves the unseen… for now.
It’s where you feel free,
Fish and chips on the sofa in a dressing gown,
Or nights out in the town with some mates
A place where you can truly be you
And a place where you are caught when you’re told not to.
When you see us,
Be with us,
You don’t outgrow us.
You remember us in your core memories.
The place that welcomed you,
Where you felt warm,
The place that reflected you:
Sensitive, loud, empty or
We’ll take it all.
The BATP is sponsored by E.ON, Airbnb, the University of Birmingham, Reckitt, Bruntwood and Gowling WLG.