Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Martineau Gardens Gates of Welcome July 4, 2022

A Creative City Project generously funded by Birmingham City Council

We’re delighted to announce that we are benefitting from a set of beautiful new gates, as a wonderful legacy of the Commonwealth Games.

As part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival’s Creative City programme, we are one of 107 projects – funded by Birmingham City Council – that will see community groups playing their part in the citywide Commonwealth Games celebrations.

Designs, created by artist Tim Tolkien (which were inspired by the beauty of Martineau Gardens and across the commonwealth with contributions from our community of volunteers and schools).

Our CEO Jenni Fryer said the gardens has long been a place of heart-felt welcome to all, but has been hidden behind gates that deter rather than encourage visitors to explore the space.

“We are incredibly proud of the warm welcome the gardens provide to all our of visitors, whether that’s school children visiting for education, members of the public or our volunteers who keep the garden so beautiful,” she said.

“Unfortunately our current gates just don’t match up so we are absolutely delighted that thanks to generous funding from Birmingham City Council the gardens will be the home of a community-led public art installation designed by award winning sculptor Tim Tolkien.

“We are delighted to be working with Tim and hope that the new gates he creates working with our community will reflect the beautiful spaces in the gardens as well as being a standalone piece of art which welcomes people into Martineau Gardens.”

A series of engagement workshops have been held with pupils from local schools in which they explored and experienced first-hand the diversity of the flora and fauna of the gardens and talked about plants that we see today but originated from commonwealth countries.  

Working with Tim, the gardens’ volunteers explored the links of Birmingham and the gardens with past social history, from manufacturing of the hardware of colonialism to the part played by abolitionist Harriet Martineau. The workshops also reflected on the importance of Martineau Gardens’ in the lives of its volunteers.  

Tim said he had been inspired by the project from the point he first walked into the gardens.

“Martineau Gardens really is a positive, beautiful, creative space but remains a little hidden from the world because of its lack of a real entrance,” he said.

“It’s been brilliant to work with young people, volunteers and staff to capture their thoughts, ideas and feelings about the gardens which will be reflected in the final design of the gates.”

The legacy of the project will be a set of visually exciting gates inspired by the community, which celebrates Martineau Gardens; welcomes everyone; acknowledges the past; reflects on links with the present and rejoices in its diversity and shared hopes. 

The gates will be officially opened in September, when students and the Martineau Community will be able to see their designs come to life as part of the gates.

About the Birmingham 2022 Festival

The Birmingham 2022 Festival unites people from around the Commonwealth through a celebration of creativity, in a six-month long programme, shining a spotlight on the West Midland’s culture sector. 

Running from March to beyond the conclusion of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in September, the festival aims to entertain and engage over 2.5 million people in person and online.

Delivering over 200 projects across the region including art, photography, dance, theatre, digital art and more the festival will embrace local culture and generate lasting change and a creative legacy beyond the games with funding to community led projects from Birmingham City Council’s Creative City Grants scheme. 

Major support has been dedicated by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Spirit of 2012. The Birmingham 2022 Festival is grateful for further support from British Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, the High Commission of Canada in the UK, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Create Central, Creative New Zealand, UK/Australia Season 2021/2022, and Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee.

To learn more, view the full programme of events or get involved visit: