"a living symbol for the beauty and intriguing stories of migration"
A spectacular garden has opened in Birmingham’s Victoria Square as part of the PoliNations arts festival, which runs from September 2-18, 2022.
The 17-day programme of free events explores the UK’s diversity through the lens of its plant life.
Commissioned by UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, PoliNations is part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and is taking place as the city celebrates hosting a hugely successful Commonwealth Games.
It is presented with the support of Birmingham City Council.
The garden is made up of five tree installations reaching 40ft high, beds of over 6,000 plants and flowers, and sculptures inspired by ‘iconic plants’ which, despite being non-native, have become staples of UK gardens.
Over the opening weekend, PoliNations will see hundreds of people from across Birmingham plant marigolds in the garden, which they have been growing in their homes and community spaces across the city over the past four months.
Research has found that almost 80% of plants in UK gardens come from overseas.
Inspired by this, PoliNations will celebrate how migration and cross-pollination have shaped Britain’s gardens and culture.
The programme includes daily garden tours led by Birmingham Botanical Gardens, lunchtime talks exploring issues from sustainability to decolonisation, and magical evening light and sound show the Sunset Shift.
The second and third weekends will see live performances, spotlighting talent from South Asian and Black communities from Birmingham and beyond.
From September 8-11, a collaboration with BBC Contains Strong Language will see spoken word and poetry by performers including award-winning saxophonist and poet Soweto Kinch, and multiple slam champion and Birmingham Poet Laureate Finalist Jasmine Gardosi.
During the finale weekend, the Ballistic Seed Party will see the garden explode with colour and confetti, featuring a Caribbean carnival, Holi celebration, Catwalk Extravaganza hosted by actor and director Rikki Beadle-Blair, and Drag Party with Yshee Black.
There will also be live music from Balimaya Project, Horse Meat Disco, Kofi Stone and more.
PoliNations will end with the garden’s plants and shrubs being redistributed throughout Birmingham via local community groups and members of the public.
For those unable to attend the festival in person, there is a PoliNations app that will allow everyone to express themselves by creating a supernatural plant inspired by their emotions, opinions and desires.
Each unique seed will grow into a virtual flower. This can be “planted” in their own home, workplace or other space using augmented reality, and added to a virtual super garden.
The team behind PoliNations Trigger Collective is a multi-disciplinary group brought together for their respective expertise across a diverse range of fields including horticulture, arts, science, and architecture.
Angie Bual, Creative Director of Trigger, said:
“PoliNations opened today as a festival celebrating cultural diversity, individuality, and self-expression.”
“The vibrancy of the PoliNations programme and the abundance of the super garden is the result of collaborations with members of many diverse communities – becoming a living symbol for the beauty and intriguing stories of migration across the UK.
“Trigger Collective is thrilled to see the festival open to everyone, at no cost, and engage new audiences in conversation on why the UK is multicultural.”
Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer at UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, said:
“PoliNations is a fabulous collision of art, design and horticulture and a dazzling start to the final month of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, as the buzz continues around the city following the Commonwealth Games.
“Like other UNBOXED projects, it shows what can happen when creative minds from different sectors and backgrounds come together.
“This wonderfully positive technicolour experience has also involved local people who have helped make it happen and I’m excited to see PoliNations burst into bloom.”
Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said:
“Continuing the fantastic success of this summer’s Commonwealth Games, Birmingham city centre will now be transformed into an artistic garden celebrating creativity and diversity as part of UNBOXED, the UK-wide celebration of science, technology, engineering and arts.
“It’s open to all and completely free, so I encourage people to come and enjoy PoliNations and see this beautiful city in bloom.”