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Arts Council Collection has collaborated with JackArts and Birmingham Museums Trust to show the work of three Birmingham-based artists to create vibrant artwork for billboards across the city.

Turner-prize winning artist, Lubaina Himid CBE, chose the artists and their stunning artworks draw on themes from a latest touring exhibition, Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City, also curated by Himid. The three artists are Haseebah Ali, Round Lemon x Helen Grundy and Leah Hickey.

Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City is an Arts Council Collection national touring exhibition curated by Turner Prize-winning artist and cultural activist Lubaina Himid CBE. Drawn from the rich holdings of the Arts Council Collection this exhibition considers the privileges enjoyed and boundaries faced by women in the modern city.

This extensive and diverse exhibition of over 60 works presents a wide array of modern and contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography and film. The exhibition is currently on show at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Gas Hall until 3 September 2022.

Statement from Haseebah Ali: "The pink route is an original four colour reduction lino print that is in the style of an Islamic repeat pattern. The artwork is in response to Found cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City and represents women roaming in the city. The lino print hints at the restriction’s women face at night in the city and how they may have to take the longer yet ‘safer’ route to get home. The complex linework of the pattern inspired by Islamic architecture speaks to the complexity of the issue and the different winding routes women may have to take at night to get to their home safely. The print directly links into the rise of gender violence and mortality rate of young women of colour. The colours of the print are different hues of pink to purple to show the transformation from day to night. And although pink has been used stereotypically in the past for women, the shade here is powerful and one of a kind.’

Statement from Round Lemon x Helen Grundy: "Our billboard design ‘And they were behind us’ reimagines one of Birmingham’s most iconic sculptural landmarks: ‘The River’ by Dhruva Mistry, (more commonly known to brummies as ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’). Using surrealism and satire through a feminist lens,‘The River’ comes to life on this billboard, climbing out of her Jacuzzi and confronting us viewers by turning her gaze towards us. She’s symbolic of the freedom and visibility Women in Birmingham have, whilst also acknowledging challenges we face. The River’s own bodily malfunction caused her to endure socioeconomical neglect for 9 years, as her water supply was switched off by the council to save running and repair costs. She has also triumphed against public stunts and mockery - the most recent incident saw her being filled with washing-up liquid, hindering her functionality as a fountain. Women from the past, present and future roam around and behind ‘The River’ in a playful and vibrant Victoria Square, celebrating the cities empowering diversity. This ‘cut and paste’ approach of reclaiming the city through the medium of collage highlights the ever-changing aspects of Birmingham’s landscape, and in turn, the Women who occupy the space.’

Leah Hickey: "As an artist concerned with love, loss and dysphoria, Hickey exorcises the emotional trauma brought about by varying forms of grief: bereavement, betrayal, breakdowns and first loves, to navigate axis of identity under Patriarchy. Bearing illicit reference to visual material from Brian de Palma’s Carrie (1976), overlaid amidst an ominous backdrop of white-hot flames, dancing against the grain rests My heart. Honouring an earnest fascination for historical typographic design – calling cards, theatrical posters and title sequences – the artist is led by grief as a visceral response to trauma. Co-opting a typically Capitalist method of dissemination, in blushed pink Blackletter and cursive script, warped and churning, the full text reads: My heart, Wet and Pulsating, rises in my throat. Through short-form poetry and autobiographical prose, My heart is an ode to dysphoria, typified as ‘severe unhappiness, especially a person’s feelings of being very uncomfortable in their body’, associated with navigating the city. Drawing upon influences from the American post-Pop Art movement, My heart prompts open dialogue surrounding the discomfort and dysphoria which rears its ugly head when existing, feminine, in public space."

Billboards will be live from Saturday 20 August until Saturday 3 September 2022 in the following locations in Birmingham: 122 Great Barr Street, 58 Stratford Road, Barford Street, Bradford Street, Old Crown Pub, The Arches.