P R E S S R E L E A S E
Mohammed Ali, an artist and Artistic Director of Soul City Arts, Birmingham has been awarded an MBE in HM The Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Art and Community Cohesion. The honour comes in the year Mohammed and Soul City Arts reopen The Hubb in Sparkbrook.
Mohammed, an internationally acclaimed street artist has made a significant contribution in increasing arts engagement amongst under represented communities particularly those from a Black and Minority Ethnic and Muslim background. Renowned for adding colour to the city and using his art to disseminate social messages, Mohammed has been a pioneer in the street-art movement, fusing street art with Islamic script and patterns, delivering powerful and moving messages. Art meets faith, identity and social change in Ali’s work, adorning the canvas of walls and public spaces and continues to change the visual landscapes of the cities we live in. His art has inspired and informed a new generation across the globe, to boldly express their identity and ideals.
Upon being awarded the MBE, Mohammed said:
“I have always been inspired by art that confronts and challenges the social issues that blight and hold back our communities. It has always been important to me to create and produce work that sits within our communities and not just work that can be displayed or presented in galleries and theatres. I am humbled to receive this award in recognition of the work I have done but it is important to me that the work continues as there is so much more to do to especially at a time when we have reopened our arts space in Birmingham the Hubb”.
“If this award can help throw a further spotlight on the work we’re dedicated to at Soul City Arts and can inspire other Mohammeds across the city and the UK to achieve their potential than it will have served the purpose it was given”
Mohammed has been a strong champion for promoting interfaith dialogue and co-operation working with young people from different faith communities. His work spans across the arts, cultural, faith, academia and community sectors.
With this in mind, in 2008 he founded Soul City Arts – a community arts organisation based in Birmingham which focuses on bringing arts to the lives of ordinary people, developing a reputation within local communities for making art accessible to all. Despite Mohammed’s focus on the visual arts, the organisation works across all art forms, as well as interfaith work and capturing cultural heritage. In 2011, Soul City Arts opened The Hubb, a pioneering community arts centre in Sparkbrook, one of the UK’s most deprived areas. Over the following eight years, Mohammed has led Soul City Arts in numerous projects bringing together diverse audiences across galleries, museums, theatres and public spaces in Birmingham and across the UK.
Mohammed’s contribution to community and interfaith spheres has been recognised with invitations to present at TEDxViaDellaConciliazione at the Vatican in Rome. Mohammed was also commissioned by Birmingham Cathedral to produce a new piece of public art to commemorate the Cathedral’s 300th anniversary. Mohammed was awarded an ITV South Bank Show Award for work in Diversity in 2009, nominated by the Arts Council of England.
Mohammed has delivered programs across the globe, curating arts festivals across Malaysia, the Middle East and Australia. He is working on theatrical shows exploring themes around Domestic Violence, Mental Health and stories of various working class communities. He has been exploring some new work celebrating the life of the late Muhammed Ali and intends to bring that to audiences across the world, beginning in the USA.
Locally in his home city of Birmingham, Mohammed and Soul City Arts have dedicated time and passion to re-establish The Hubb, a facility which was much-missed when it closed due to redevelopment of its former site. After a successful crowd-funding campaign, The Hubb is now based in the Bordesley Centre on Stratford Road. The Hubb continues its track record of bringing international artists and speakers to the city for intimate gatherings and creative interventions and Mohammed is looking forward to continuing this work with new audiences in the new space.
Soul City Arts: http://soulcityarts.com/
Mohammed Ali: http://www.aerosolarabic.com/
Emily Jones, Soul City Arts
Soul City Arts is a non-profit community arts organisation based Sparkbrook, Birmingham, working within the city and also partnering on projects across the UK. A secular organisation, Soul City Arts promotes and produces visual and performing arts events, offers professional development to artists, operates a community arts venue called The Hubb in Sparkbrook, Birmingham (one of the most deprived areas in the UK), and plans and delivers projects in the areas of community, cultural heritage and interfaith work.
Photograph by Chelone Photography