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Tag Archives: Osman Yousefzada

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022

Amongst all the excitement along the colourful streets of Birmingham, there is another success story of the city taking place during the Commonwealth Games. Wandering over to Oozells square and there is a public art display that has the power to match the other artistic events that are taking place. The IKON gallery features an exhibition of the work of three artists: Yhonnie Scarce, Salote Tawale and Osman Yousefzada. The work is diverse yet integrated and visual. They come together on subjects that cover different themes. Having my camera with me was a real bonus as each art installation offers opportunities for picture taking. The exhibits are on the first floor and all three have the necessary space which allows you to appreciate them. The first room I entered contained The Need Breeder (2002) by Australian Aboriginal Artist, Yhonnie Scarce. Suspended from the ceiling were 600 glass droplets each having different shades of opacity. The installation was mesmerising with the light falling on the different shapes allowing a range of interpretations. What they represent is the crystallisation of the Australia desert following British Nuclear tests in the fifties. Together the glass droplets represent a nuclear explosion. Each droplet represents the death from nuclear tests. Powerful, moving and relevant in this present political climate.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
The overall powerful view of the art work.

The next room had three video projections which spanned the room. The film that ran for around 9 minutes was put together by Osman Yousefyaza. Having met Osman at a Moseley Coffee house, I immediately felt a connection. Spaces of Transcendence (2022) is a film that was made in Pakistan and contains powerful moving images of rituals set against a captivating backdrop of the country. There were gestures and facial close ups that pulled me into the story without words. I found the throw of the cloth into the saucers containing colour water fascinating. The main characters in the film absorbed my intention. I can not work out if the film is on a loop as there was no introduction or end just a complete immersion in the imagery. I loved it.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Mixture of architecture and human shape.
IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Hand gestures and colours.

It was nearly closing time at the IKON when I came into the room with the instillation by Salote Tamale called YOU, ME, ME, YOU. There were three TV screens as distinct to Osman’s work which was projected on much larger screens. A continuous video was playing that darted from one theme to another. There were underwater pictures and then scenes in a tropical jungle. It was a different but refreshing approach to the presentation by Osman in the previous room. Slowly my eyes took notice of the decoration of the room and the recurring pattern. After a while it was this that started to demand my attention. The repeating colourful pattern needed to be photographed as you will see.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
The TV monitors contrast with the vibrant background.
IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Love those patterns!

The exhibition was excellent and I felt a sense of calm coming away from the IKON Gallery. The exhibition coincides the Birmingham 2022 games and there will be many people arriving into Birmingham from different places and cultures. The work of these three artists starts to unravel and re-ravel the different interactions of people around the world. Birmingham is privileged to be able to host this unique display of art at the IKON gallery.

My pictures of these artists work provide a simple snapshot of this moving visit and there is more information about each artist on the web.

Yhonnie Scarce
Osman Yousefzada
Salote Tawale

This links you to more information about the exhibition at the IKON.


Selfridges July 2022

The Selfridges building is now back to its full glory after a period of renovation. The silver discs were causing problems by becoming detached and falling off the building. All this was happening prior to the pandemic. There were additional problems as the original manufacturer of the discs was no longer operating and a new supplier needed to be found. When the contractors were ready, they covered the building in a spectacular pink and black cover designed by Osman Yousefzada and underneath this “skin” replaced the discs. I liked the Infinity Pattern 1 design as it was a such a different take on the building.

Selfridges July 2022
An upward view accentuating the symmetry.
Selfridges July 2022
A reflection capturing the work being done near to the HS2 site

The repair work continued during and after the pandemic. Finally, the scaffolding came down revealing the new replacement discs. I take part in a weekly photographic project and the week’s theme was geometry. The Selfridges building is perfect for this theme and I went out and about with my camera taking pictures to accentuate the amazing patterns. There was also the chance to get some interaction with reflections of people sitting next to the building. There was a good reaction to the pictures and I find that many people love the design. There are many people who dislike the building but everyone agrees it does put Birmingham on the map.

Selfridges July 2022
An opportunity for a few more reflections.
Selfridges July 2022
Wherever you look there is a different pattern revealed.

I have included some past posts which will provide details of my previous photographic blogs that have involved this iconic building.

Selfridges Study

The Changing Face of Selfridges


Osman Selfridges Story

Selfridges is always on my list as a building to photograph. It has featured in many of my picture books over the years. I have even written a blog about the building which includes several of my pictures. The building is striking with the discs spread over an amorphous design. I love the building and it has come to be one of the iconic images of the City. I also like shopping in the store as the interior design is appealing but that is another story. If you want to know more, there are several good sources of information about the design and history of the architectural design.

Osman Selfridges Story
Sunset fire over Selfridges and look closely some discs are missing
Osman Selfridges Story
Missing disc highlighted by the sunrise

In 2020, problems with the attachment of the discs to the building began to surface and this is evident in my pictures. A decision was made by Selfridges to undertake the refurbishment and replacement of all the discs on the building. There are 15,000 discs and it will take some time to replace them. The original makers of the discs no longer exist and new constructors were required. The story may be followed up in the news media when in November 2020, the official reports of the replacement began.

It was during Lockdown #2 that scaffolding began to go up around the store. So as to protect the construction workers and the scaffolding, an eye-catching temporary skin has been put in place. The striking art structure is called “Infinity pattern 1” and is designed by Birmingham born artist and interdisciplinary designer, Osman Yousefzada. It is intended to be a “message of hope” to the people of Birmingham. The design was drawn up in conjunction with the IKON Gallery. The colours are striking and are best viewed in the sunlight which picks up the shades of red. The installation is temporary as the replacement of all the discs will be completed in time for the Commonwealth games in 2022. Therefore whilst it is on view, I encourage you to wander down to Birmingham and see Osman’s creation. The visit will be worthwhile.

These photographs show how Osman’s artwork interacts with the City and the people. The pictures tell the story of the loss of the discs, the placement of the scaffolding and the final structure. There is merchandise in the store that feature the Infinity Pattern 1 on them. The colours and the design pattern lend themselves to pictures and I like the picture with my daughter looking out over Birmingham with the Infinity Pattern 1 behind her.

Osman Selfridges Story
My daughter looks out over the street below.
Osman Selfridges Story
A favourite Birmingham viewpoint. This time with Osman’s Infinity Pattern 1.

I have included some web links for further reading
Birmingham Selfridges covered in huge artistic wrap
Osman Yousefzada at Selfridges Birmingham

Osman Selfridges Story
Examples of the various merchandise that can be brought designed with the Infinity Pattern 1

View of the City May 2021

Queensway is a busy arterial road in and out of Birmingham so there is always a high volume of traffic thundering along the tarmac.  With my telephoto lens and 24 to 70 mm lens, I went about taking different pictures of an area that is already very familiar to me.  New building projects are always happening in the city centre and the area between the Cathedral and the Canal was an old factory site.  It has been repurposed into city dwelling flats that are being built close to the canal.   

The area is also a magnet for different kinds of people and as I was taking pictures, I was hassled for money, so I quickly moved on.  It is something I am wary of when I am in the quieter parts of town.  I know that I do have to be careful of my own safety.  Still the lure of  taking a few photographs around the buildings on either side of Queensway won through.  I took pictures of St Chad’s Cathedral and also with my telephoto lens up past the Snow Hill buildings.  After that I made my way into town for a lunch time meeting. 

Parking on the top floor of Selfridges Car Park opposite the store provided skyline pictures of both the City and Digbeth, and the skyline bridge linking the two is always fun for a picture or two.    I love the new covering on the Selfridges which is being put in place whilst they replace the discs on the outside.  The covering is designed by Osman Yousefzada,who is a multi-disciplinary artist working in association with the IKON gallery. the pink and black geometric shapes are in contrast with the grey architecture.

It was a day of sunshine and showers and whilst I was outside there was a terrific downpour. 

This then led to the bonus of several puddles for a bit of reflective photography.  The puddles around Selfridges are still there and lend themselves to some nice reflections of the building as it is being renovated

On my way to New Street, there were other interesting images to capture including the queue outside Zara and the photographing of the Electric Cinema.  I lingered around the reflective roof of the entrance to New Street Station. I also took a few pictures of the trams passing through which is something you have to do when in Birmingham. 

So enjoy the pictures and it is good to see Birmingham as it emerges from the pandemic.  The only down side is the weather which is atrocious rain and so unlike May.


Tree reflections

Everyone loves a picture that shows a reflection. The unique view is fascinating, and it gives a different view of the world by suggesting further new worlds. Unusual angles or taking the picture from a low viewpoint. There is symmetry around a reflection that everyone loves to see. This may be caused by mirrors, a shop window or a puddle formed by the recent rain fall. The iPhone is great for taking pictures of reflections and you can get quite low or even dip the phone into the puddle to get that perfect shot. Care is needed with the exposure as the reflected light from the puddle is less intense than the direct light from the unobstructed area above the puddle. Even on some of my best loved pictures there is overexposure of the upper part of the picture. If I had my large camera with me then I may be able to put a filter on it to stop down the light but then I may not be able to get as low as you can with the iPhone. Adjusting the exposure is easy when you are standing up but not so straight forward when you are crouching down. Probably the best idea is to lie down so you can control the exposure at your leisure. You certainly get some funny looks if you do get down low.

Selfridges reflection
Selfridges with reflection of covering whilst the discs are being replaced. It is designed by Osman Yousefzada

So I have put together some reflection shots for you. My tips are to get down low and either bend the knees if you can or even lie down to get a different view. Always try and think differently as that is what will make the photograph attractive to the viewer. They will have some familiarity with the scene but will also be intrigued with the reflection and part of the fun is to work out what they are being given to look at. Once you start getting into reflections then you will see them everywhere and your photography will take on a new life.

Red canal boats
Red boats on the Canal near Knowle (featured in Birmingham Live Instagram post)
Black and White view
Black and White view from Knowle Church to Elderberry Black Cafe
Trip to the Curry House
Trip to the Curry House (featured in Amateur Photographer)
This reflection of Selfridges was liked by the designer of the scaffolding multidisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada and was featured by @IgersbirminghamUK on Instagram

Finally Englands Big Picture featured the headline reflection of the small park in Knowle, Solihull

Tree reflections
Tree reflections (featured in BBC’s Big England)