The UK’s largest ever multi-city street art project kicked off today in Birmingham with the unveiling of a six storey high artwork spray painted on the iconic Custard Factory; home to the city’s creative quarter.
The mural is the first in a series of designs commissioned to mark the launch of a consumer initiative called Get It Right from a Genuine Site, conceived to increase awareness of and respect for the value of the UK’s creative industries.
The giant murals will transform the landscapes of at least five cities across the UK and will be revealed throughout October and November to celebrate the cultural history and the current diversity of the creative industries within each region. Cardiff, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Edinburgh are already confirmed to follow the Birmingham launch.
Inspired by poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah’s quote “Birmingham has changed a lot, but for me it’s still the centre of the universe,” the artwork captures the energy and diversity of Birmingham’s creative industries, from music to film to TV to publishing, and the people that breathe life into them.
Benjamin Zephaniah said of the campaign “During the industrial revolution Birmingham was the centre of British creativity, this city more or less invented Heavy Metal music; the Handsworth Revolution inspired a movement of British reggae music, and this city was my muse as a young poet. I love what Get it Right from a Genuine Site is doing because it promotes art with a sense of place, and art that is genuinely from the people. Let us celebrate us. They really have got it right.”
Other Birmingham born creative heavyweights celebrated in the creation include rapper, producer and musician Mike Skinner of The Streets and actress Felicity Jones, who starred in the Theory of Everything. Up and coming talent is also represented, with rapper, singer and producer Lady Leshurr from Kingshurst, Solihull featured prominently in the piece.
Felicity Jones, who is from Birmingham and supports the campaign, comments: “Birmingham is bursting at the seams with creativity! I grew up going to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Custard factory, the Ikon Gallery and the Midlands Art Centre – to name just a few of the superb artistic institutions in Brum. I felt inspired by these places and encouraged to become an actor because of them. I feel lucky to have grown up in such a culturally rich city.”
The dynamic piece took five days to paint and was created by an artistic collective led by Walsall born artist, Chu, who is best known as the world’s first 3D graffiti artist. Chu has also worked as a print/design and events consultant for Banksy.
Chu has been joined by Joshua ‘Gent 48’ Billingham and Title from the area to transform the outside wall at the Custard Factory, Birmingham’s revolutionary creative, digital and media quarter.
“Travelling to, and working around Birmingham has always inspired me and my artworks” said Chu, the lead artist on the project. “The city is full of talent; it is an absolute honour to grace the walls of Birmingham with a mural inspired by the diverse pool of dynamic, artistic sub-cultures that thrive within the region.
The work in all five cities is being curated and recorded by Global Street Art, the UK’s largest urban art platform, with other partners also involved in documenting the events.
The mural depicts some of the fresh, new talent as they are the future of the creative industries. I hope that when people visit the Custard Factory and see the mural they can appreciate how Birmingham will continue to be seen as the creative hub of the Midlands.”
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive, BPI and music spokesperson for Get it Right from a Genuine Site, said: “We want people to understand the importance of supporting the films, TV, music, games, books, magazines and sports they love – and that by doing so they invest in creating more of it and the development of new artists and ideas.
Our goal is to encourage everyone to get their music, TV, film, books, newspapers, magazines, sport and games from genuine services and to support UK creativity.”
Marianne Grant, Senior Vice President at the Motion Picture Association and film spokesperson for Get it Right from a Genuine Site commented: “Street art is a powerful medium to tell our story and raise awareness of our campaign. It allows us to showcase some of the most creative talents in the UK right now to the nation and particularly inspire young people to think big when it comes to their own creative ambitions.”
The launch of Get it Right from a Genuine Site marks the first time a cross section of the creative industries have come together to champion creativity.