Gates of welcome unveiled today October 14, 2022

Gates of Welcome – Stage 1 is unveiled today.

Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Martineau Gardens Gates of Welcome – a Creative City Project generously funded by Birmingham City Council

Today we had the pleasure of celebrating the first stage of our Gates of Welcome being completed. Two tall, steel gates, festooned with hand-crafted sculptures of plants and wildlife were officially unveiled today by MP Preet Kaur Gill, Teacher Paige Jackson and pupil Taihrese from Selly Oak Trust School, in the company of volunteers, staff and supporters of Martineau Gardens. First to walk through the gates, were the volunteers of Martineau Gardens, accompanied by pupils of Heath Mount School and Selly Oak Trust School and artist Tim Tolkien. A garland of foliage gathered from Martineau Gardens (including radishes and cranberries), was snipped as part of the opening ceremony, speeches were held and dragonfly cakes were enjoyed.

The community-led art installation, which has been a year in the making, was created by award-winning, sculptor Tim Tolkien, with design contributions from workshops held with our volunteers and local schools. Working with Tim, participants explored plants that have origins in the commonwealth, the links of Birmingham and the gardens with past social history, from the manufacturing of the hardware of colonialism to the part played by abolitionist Harriet Martineau. The workshops reflected too on the importance of Martineau Gardens’ in the lives of its volunteers.  

Jenni Fryer, CEO for Martineau Gardens said:

“It’s been an absolute joy to work on this project with Tim Tolkien. Tim has engaged our volunteers and schoolchildren to create the most beautiful set of gates – this art installation is inspired by the warm welcome that Martineau Gardens offers to all its visitors and draws on the rich diversity of the plants of the Commonwealth and of the gardens themselves.”

Once the project is completed over the next few months – the details will include depictions of plants from across the commonwealth, including  bamboo, tea, lemon, banana, orange and potato; representations of the wildlife of Martineau Gardens, with robins, dragonflies and spiders tucked about. Life at Martineau is portrayed through wheelbarrows, plant pots and of course teapots (a nod to the importance of teabreak, conversation and friendship at this centre for therapeutic horticulture).

Our thanks to civil engineers Fitzgerald who were a huge support in helping us get the finishing touches to the car park complete carrying out groundworks and resurfacing of the new entranceway with a team of friendly staff volunteering their skills and time.

The installation of these remaining design elements, including an interpretation panel where visitors will be able to watch a film telling the story of the gates continues into Autumn.  Follow the developments on social media, #GatesofWelcome, sign-up to receive our news and events updates here . We look forward to welcoming visitors old and new to explore the story with us.

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, 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.

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