Iconic buildings across Birmingham have been given a dramatic makeover, as landmarks and public spaces were covered in an array of new artworks to mark the start of the City’s annual Inspired Festival. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Council House and Birmingham Town Hall were just some of the locations washed in colour as part of the light projection event.

The artworks on show ranged from photography challenging the preconceptions of plus size women and beauty, cutting edge fashion inspired by miners and working men’s clubs, and a portrait influenced by Tim Burton’s 1988 ‘Beetlejuice’ film.

All pieces displayed during the evening were created by students from Birmingham City University, which is organising Inspired Festival for the third year running.

A University-wide competition saw a vast long list whittled down to 18 images and videos, which were then projected across the City. Other entrants have seen their work adorn VIP tote bags and notepads, which will be given away during the Festival, which runs from 11 to 26 June.

Birmingham City University’s Inspired Festival showcases the talent of the institution’s final year students in disciplines such as film, art, architecture, fashion and photography.

Throughout the Festival, exhibitions will be held across the University’s campuses including a variety of events ranging from music and literature performances to fashion shows and innovative technology demonstrations.

Two images by Visual Communication (Photography) student Katie O’Neill were selected to be projected for the Inspired Festival launch, including a striking shot focusing on a pair of legs in stockings and high heels in a home setting. She said:

“Exploring concepts and narrative is something I thrive on as a photographer. My work explores femininity, personal explorations and themes derived from art. I shoot mainly on location as I enjoy exploring a subject’s relationship with their environment. I am fascinated with the concept of self-depiction within art and photography, and this has been the inspiration for my most recent project ‘Second Self’.”

The projections for the launch event were made possible using The Light Cycle; a fully mobile, creative street art device that allows digital art to be more accessible in outdoor public spaces. Incorporated in to the design of a bicycle, The Light Cycle houses a high power, 6,000 ANSI lumen projector and its own sound system.

Helen Osborn, currently studying for her Masters in Fine Arts at Birmingham City University, is a mixed media artist inspired by street culture and urban landscapes. She said her latest work made a perfect fit for The Light Cycle event: 

“My piece is inspired by the vibrant, colourful street art in Digbeth in Birmingham. I originally started experimenting with spray painting in my artwork six years ago when I was on my BTEC Foundation in Art and Design at Birmingham City University. Around the same time I went on a weekend art workshop in Digbeth and spent a Saturday roaming the area taking photographs of the unique and eye-catching street art in the area. 

“There’s something about discovering these unexpected artworks when you turn a corner, and seeing the bright, explosive pops of colour against the monochromatic buildings of the City that still really excites me and it was fantastic that other parts of Birmingham could experience this as part of the Inspired Festival light projections.”

The Light Cycle event was complemented by a screening at Millennium Point of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’, after it was voted Birmingham’s favourite 90s film in a poll leading up to the Festival.

Sara Middleton, Associate Dean at Birmingham City University, said:

“Inspired Festival celebrates the wealth of creative talent being nurtured and developed in the region – and what better way to showcase the work produced here than projecting it across the City we are proud to call our home! As well as being a fantastic platform for our student’s work, it offered a unique opportunity for the public to engage with art in an unusual setting.”

“Both The Light Cycle and the screening of ‘Pulp Fiction’ – which was preceded by ‘trailers’ showcasing the work of our creative students – have given people a flavour of what’s to come during Inspired Festival. We now look forward to welcoming visitors from the region and beyond to come and see the wealth of truly awe-inspiring work our students have been developing and creating during their time at Birmingham City University.”


During Inspired Festival the public will be given the opportunity to take part in a series of workshops focussed on enhancing creativity, and all events and activities will be showcased using the hashtag #BCUinspired.

Events will be held at the University’s City Centre Campus in Birmingham’s Eastside as well as Birmingham School of Jewellery and Birmingham School of Art.