dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Published July 18th 2021
Local schools bring Shakespeare into the modern world
Birmingham artist Mohammed Ali has joined forces with children from two local schools to create new graffiti murals inspired by Shakespeare. Created through a five-week project with pupils from Montgomery Primary Academy in Sparkbrook and Percy Shurmer Academy in Balsall Heath, the murals also explore the diverse and exciting communities in which they are now sited.
Montgomery Primary Academy pupils with Mohammed Ali
The permanent murals are part of the Everything to Everybody project which aims to ensure the heritage of Birmingham's Shakespeare Library remains relevant today. The young people were encouraged to 'Tell Your OWN Story' through a series of workshops including video, poetry, manga and mural painting.
Mohammed, who is founder of Soul City Arts, went back to school with pupils exploring questions around exclusion and inequality while raising awareness of Birmingham's unique Shakespeare heritage. "We are aiming to empower children to boldly express themselves and their stories in an increasingly polarised society," he said. "Let's face it, our society isn't one where 'everything is for everybody' and we need to make a head start with young children to confront the inequality we see around us today."
Everything to Everybody Project Director, Professor Ewan Fernie said: "The collaboration with Mohammed and his team of artists has been a fantastic way to open up Birmingham's Shakespeare collection with and for its young people. It was of the utmost importance to the founders of the world's first great Shakespeare library in the city that Shakespeare's plays include all sorts of people from Kings and Queens to clowns and gravediggers."
And he added: "Mohammed and Soul City Arts have taken that as a spur to imagine a truly inclusive city and it's been amazing and instructive to see the children expressing and contributing their own stories, memories and experiences. The finished murals will leave a lasting legacy in Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath, bring Shakespeare back to life for contemporary Birmingham now."
The Everything to Everybody Project is an ambitious celebration of the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library. The first great Shakespeare library in the world, it houses an outstanding Shakespeare collection which belongs to the people of a city. A collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, with funding contributed by National Lottery Heritage Fund and History West Midlands, Everything to Everybody works with organisations and individuals across the city to support, inspire and champion projects.