2022-01/the-relaytionship

Dubbed the ‘Relaytionship’, the artwork is a fluid and dynamic piece of digital art, evolving and growing alongside the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay as it traverses 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth in 294 days.

The Relaytionship artwork, launched by the Business and Tourism Programme, is made up of words contributed by those across the Commonwealth, in response to spoken word artist Amerah Saleh’s poem The Relaytionship. The poem was launched in October in the West Midlands – home of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

To coincide with the Queen’s Baton arriving in the country, the first evolution of the poem and artwork has been revealed to embody the artistic and diverse heritage of the West Midlands whilst reflecting the power of art to connect cultures, countries and continents.

The Relaytionship artwork was revealed by Apache Indian, who grew up in Handsworth in Birmingham, during a virtual showcase event organised by the Business and Tourism Programme.

Originally designed by West Midlands-based audio-visual artist Tommy Xiao Ji in collaboration with spoken word artist Amerah Saleh, the Relaytionship was created as part of the Business and Tourism Programme.

The programme aims to create a long-term legacy by boosting perceptions of the West Midlands and UK as a world-class destination for trade, investment and tourism.

The Relaytionship is just one of a myriad of activities which will profile the region across the Commonwealth and target domestic and overseas visitors, investors, businesses and event organisers to capitalise on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and its legacy.  

The artistic collaboration will now absorb words and images from people in India, a country with a rich poetic legacy and influence, and continue its journey alongside the Queen’s Baton Relay. Having connected voices from every corner of the Commonwealth, a final version of the hybrid piece of artwork will be revealed when the Queen’s Baton returns to the West Midlands.

Amerah Saleh added:

“In October we asked communities around the Commonwealth ‘What does Home mean to you? What does Incredible mean to you?’ and it is inspiring to see the first wave of responses unveiled. As we hoped to demonstrate when we launched the Relaytionship, we are all more connected than you would think. I look forward to developing the artwork as the poem develops and encourage everyone to express what Home and Incredible means to them.”

Becky Frall, Head of Visitor Attraction at the West Midlands Growth Company, said:

“The West Midlands’ destinations have a rich arts and culture offer, and it is exhilarating to see how well the concept of the Relaytionship is resonating in India. What the artwork has also revealed is the affinity between the West Midlands region and India, how connected we are despite the thousands of miles that separate us, and how our bond continues to evolve. Indian visitors have a higher propensity to spend time in the West Midlands than other international visitors, and we hope that this sentiment will continue to engage and build audiences as the artwork grows, encouraging more visits as soon as it is safe to travel.”

The Relaytionship by Amerah Saleh 

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 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?...... 

To be continued…..

The Relaytionship continues alongside the Queen’s Baton Relay. For more information or to contribute your words visit www.makeitwm.com/relaytionship

For more information, images or interviews please contact Farel James at McCann Central on + +447815 029289 or email batp@mccann.com