A UK-wide programme designed to celebrate creativity and aimed to reach millions and bring people together is arriving in 2022, with one pop-up installation heading to Birmingham this autumn. Known as UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, the programme features free large-scale events, installations and globally accessible digital experiences produced by some of the brightest minds in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.
UNBOXED, originally created to celebrate the UK’s departure from the EU, will feature ten major multi-site and digital creative projects that share new ideas and possibilities for the future. Events and activities are set to take place from 1 March to 2 October 2022 – from the Outer Hebrides to Dover and from Omagh to Swansea, and across traditional and online media.
One project popping-up in the centre of Birmingham from September 2-18 is a forest garden called PoliNations, produced by Trigger Collective and led by Bristol-based arts organisation Trigger, drawing on experts in the fields of horticulture, science, architecture and the arts. Audiences will discover a super garden in Birmingham’s town centre, with giant architectural trees and thousands of colourful living plants beautifully arranged in zones ranging from meadow to forest. As part of a partnership with Birmingham City Council, plants from the PoliNations garden will go back out to re-green the city.
Inspired by the fact that the majority of plants in our city gardens come from overseas, PoliNations will celebrate the cross-pollination that has shaped British culture. Across two long weekend festivals, a community planting weekend, and a daily programme of inspiring activity, PoliNations will present artist commissions, talks, workshops, garden tours, and performances spanning live music, spoken word, dance, and drag. All events will be free and open to everyone.
Beyond the super garden’s living plants, throughout Victoria Square and Chamberlain Square visitors will discover Iconic Plant Sculptures, inspired by the incredible diversity of plant-life in the UK and their equally colourful origins and uses ranging from protest to ritual and wellbeing. Designed by Carl Robertshaw, the sculptures will feature soundscapes created by local and international artists, in collaboration with Olivier Award-winning sound designer, Tom Gibbons.
Throughout the finale weekend, Ballistic Seed Party (September 15-18), a cast of Walkabout Performers led by artist and performer Symoné (Guinness World Records) will personify the iconic garden plants. Dressed in Met-Gala worthy costumes designed by Clary Salandy (Mahogany Carnival Design) and Bourgeoise aka Joey A. Frenette (RuPaul’s Drag Race), these walking works of art will animate the super garden and conclude each day with a choreographed performance at Sunset. Among the cast is the celebrated performance artist aka ‘living sculpture’, Daniel Lismore.
Angie Bual, Creative Director of PoliNations and Co-Director of Trigger Collective, said: “The idea behind PoliNations derived from the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that happened at the same time as the coronavirus lockdowns, when more and more people were reconnecting with nature. These phenomena made me think about my own identity and place in the UK, and at Trigger Collective we began exploring the relationship between plants, cultural identity and civic activism. We were surprised to find out that most of the plant life in our city gardens has travelled in from outside of the UK and wanted to use the vibrancy of plant life as a metaphor to understand why we’re multi-cultural.
“Together we make the world more beautiful and interesting, and we’ve been doing this in the UK for thousands of years. Migration isn’t a recent action – it’s as old as the rose, apple and lavender are to our gardens. The PoliNations programme is the result of collaborations with members of many diverse communities and it’s a true celebration of cultural diversity, individuality and self-expression.”
Other events taking place in Birmingham as part of PoliNations include Plant Up! (September 2-4) which will see diverse local community groups and schools planting flowers in the super garden and Poetry and Performance Festival (September 9-11) in partnership with BBC Contains Strong Language featuring performances from rapper Soweto Kinch, slam champion Jasmine Gardosi and hot new UK talent. Unfolding beneath the giant and otherworldly tree installations daily events to relax the body and mind will span the PoliNations site, as well as workshops, sensory experiences, garden tours, lunchtime talks by stellar speakers and Tea Tuk Tuk Chai Wallah in partnership with Dishoom Restaurants will be a place to enjoy a cup of tea every day, all taking place over the 17-day event.
To discover the full UNBOXED programme, head to the website here.