MA students from Birmingham’s historic School of Art will launch a new public pop up project exploring the city at Selfridges Birmingham this coming weekend. 

Taking inspiration from the work of Birmingham-born and globally acclaimed visual artist Osman Yousefzada, recipient of an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University, the exhibitions and workshops also explore ideas from the book ‘Invisible Cities’ by Italian author Italo Calvino, based on Marco Polo’s imagined descriptions of travelling through cities.

Shoppers and Birmingham residents will be invited to join students to create artworks, zines, and collective drawings, all recording their relationships and understanding of the city they live or work in to produce a collection of art, in response to  Osman Yousefzada’s huge Selfridges exterior installation Infinity Pattern 1 as well as his Letter to Birmingham project.

Events include:

Hidden Cities – where the public can contribute to a shared record of places of happiness across Birmingham

New Maps – in which participants can create a map of memories and desires based around familiar landmarks

Build Your Own City – a tracing and drawing experience

Our Birmingham – a freestyle workshop documenting what the city means to us

What Is Birmingham To You? -  a reimagining of the city through urban collage

Organic Graphic Workshop – exploring how food can contribute to creativity.

A Collective Letter to Birmingham - create a collective letter to Birmingham within a group drawing exercise

In ‘Invisible Cities’, Marco Polo talks through metaphor and symbols, conjuring up cities of magical times for his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan.

Throughout the book, cities change from being settings to becoming living, breathing characters and the role of storytelling sees the relationship of the author change into to a reader. In turn, the Invisible Cities intervention will create an imaginative springboard for artists and audiences alike.

The ‘Invisible Cities’ project is led by Beth Derbyshire MA Course Leader, MA Arts and Project Management at Birmingham School of Art, part of Birmingham City University, together with the Selfridges Birmingham team, and is the fourth such collaborative project delivered at the landmark store.

Beth Derbyshire said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity of working again with Selfridges who have been a long-standing supporter of innovation and creativity at Birmingham School of Art. These valuable partnerships provide excellent platforms for our students to flourish, develop and showcase their practices whilst engaging with the public. 

“We hope that our Invisible Cities pop up provides a moment  for us to collaborate and journey on creative encounters together,  to explore the stories and enigmas of the city we inhabit.  All of us on the project would like to thank Selfridges for this incredible opportunity that provides invaluable learning experiences for our students.”

All events are free to attend, with materials provided. Visit ‘Invisible Cities’ (second day) at Selfridges Birmingham, second floor from 1200-1700 Sunday 16 January 2022.