Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame outdoor exhibition now on display

05 July 2024

A special exhibition celebrating the life of Birmingham poet and activist Benjamin Zephaniah is now taking place across Birmingham city centre.

Described by the family of Zephaniah as an ‘amazing, iconic and beautiful tribute to Benjamin’, the outdoor exhibition ‘Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame’ can be seen between 5-31 July in Victoria Square and Colmore Row.

Developed and funded by Colmore BID and created with the full support and acknowledgment of the Zephaniah family, the exhibition features more than 20 specially curated artworks displayed in large-format cabinets and flags as part of the city’s 100 Days of Creativity programme.

The Brighter Flame features large scale archival black and white portrait photographs of Zephaniah by Birmingham artist, Pogus Caesar, plus a series of poems and photographs by Zephaniah and Caesar taken from their first large-scale project, Handsworth 1985 Revisited.

The exhibition also features stills from The Tiny Spark, a conceptual film featuring Zephaniah’s poetry and Caesar’s images in response to the Handsworth Riots of 1985.

An invitation-only spoken word event at The Exchange on Broad Street featuring a Q&A with David O Springer, Zephaniah’s brother, also took place as part of the exhibition.

Zephaniah was recognised as a champion of the people and his death on December 7, 2023, aged 65, drew tributes from across the world.

Born in Handsworth and influenced strongly by what he described as ‘street politics’ and the music and poetry of Jamaica, Zephaniah was gifted an old typewriter as a child, which inspired him to become a writer. In recent years, the typewriter has been housed in the collection of Birmingham Museums Trust and photographs of it will feature in the exhibition.

Through his work, Zephaniah was inspired by music, his lived experiences in Birmingham and his Barbadian-Jamaican heritage. In 2008, he was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers and won numerous awards and honorary doctorates for his literature. Zephaniah also made numerous acting and media appearances, most recently as the preacher Jeremiah Jesus in BBC’s Peaky Blinders.

Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame has been developed and funded by Colmore BID, the Business Improvement District for the commercial district and co-curated by Pogus Caesar and art historian Ruth Millington.

Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame is free to visit from July 5-31, 2024 at Victoria Square and along Colmore Row in Birmingham City Centre.

Exhibition partners: Colmore BIDCentral BID, OOM Gallery Archive, DACS/Artimage, Windrush Productions, The Family of Benjamin Zephaniah, Birmingham Museums Trust, University of Birmingham’s The Exchange and Castle Fine Art

The exhibition has been developed with the support of Zephaniah’s family.