A Note from the Curator: Immy Kaur

Plot Twist.

In 2016 we launched the #PowerofUs TEDxBrum theme inspired by the idea that we believed there was no ‘us' and 'them’ anymore, sharing ideas of our interconnectedness and how might connect across public, private and civic sectors in order to truly build a city we can be proud of. It was an incredible day that led to an amazing year of activity and more than 750 people attended City Camp events that built on the ideas shared at TEDxBrum.

Despite all of this, it has also been a year where we saw Brexit divide not only the country, but also Birmingham right down the middle with 50.4% voting to Leave (22 of Birmingham’s 40 wards voted to Leave, and 18 to Remain). In the months following the vote, the UK saw a 41% rise in reported hate crimes. Then in November we witnessed the completely unexpected (to many of us), election of Donald Trump, and in just the last few weeks we have seen global terror attacks fill the headlines and our hearts with despair, fear, anger and uncertainty. For many of us - me included - it’s been a difficult and confusing year.

So, what’s next? For a while it felt hard to plan this year’s theme, with all of the hope and excitement that surrounds our TEDxBrum planning every year. It all felt a little overly optimistic and naive, and even disrespectful to the context many of us found ourselves in or heard about from those around us.

One afternoon I was sat listening to Indy Johar talk about ‘FEAR’,  and how it has become a strategic means to divide us all, fear as the heroin of power - addictive, cheap and deeply corrosive of democracy. Fear cannot be crawled away from, it must be audaciously fought - igniting our dreams and hearts to fuel that audacity as an antidote to fear. The dark cloud cleared, and it became more obvious that again TEDxBrum would need to host the space for us to have the difficult conversations we need, as well as the space to dream and a community to build the future with.

Birmingham Hippodrome shared our vision to create the biggest TEDxBrum to date and became the first partner for 2017. A thank you to Fiona Allan and her team who supported us to take the next giant leap for the fifth TEDxBrum. And whilst this venue will be a big jump for us, the theme for 2017 is more of an evolution, incorporating rather than ignoring the difficulties we have faced together along this road.

Last year at TEDxBrum we talked about harnessing the Power of Us to overcome the embedded polarisation of ‘us’ and ‘them’. What the previously mentioned events of the last year have taught us is just how quickly rich, diverse and complex perspectives can be reduced to binary choices. Leave or Remain. Tory or Labour. Pro Trident or anti nuclear war. Viewpoints clashing constantly, whilst neither ‘side’ learns any more about the ‘other’ in our limited debates.

Instead of saying one viewpoint is valid and another is invalid, we learn more about reality by sharing perspectives. Our perspectives affect all of our life experiences. They are the lens through which we see and interpret the world. Perspectives are interchangeable; individual; multiple.

Perspectives and beliefs have been used to divide the human race; to rule us and embolden the leaders for whom power is the most important point of perspective. The false dichotomy created by wars in all guises, whether it’s between religions, countries, or economic models teaches us that we need to stand firm in our views, reject outside influence and be wary of people who hold different viewpoints. 

We think the crucial challenge for society in the 21st Century is how we understand each other, relate to each other, and talk to each other, embracing many perspectives whilst challenging our own to expose new collective spaces where we can build a city to be proud of, together.

It is with great honour and excitement I invite you to join us for TEDxBrum 2017 Perspectives at Birmingham Hippodrome on Sunday 15th October 2017, at a time where these conversation between us all are more important than ever.

Designing for TEDxBrum 2016

Our colourful 2016 branding was designed by Helen Page, this year's creative head and designer. By day, Helen can be found bringing brands to life over at Birmingham-based brand agency Orb, and it was her job to sculpt the TEDxBrum brand and interpret this year's theme - the #PowerOfUs.

Taking inspiration from bold and brash identities, Helen created a 3D isometric ‘US’ which could be displayed both vertically and horizontally to make it as adaptable as possible. Mustard, satsuma and lime were key background colours, with TED red on yellow being the key combination that quickly became synonymous with the event and helped convey bags of personality; a nod to classic TED with a creative and contemporary twist. Dots, lines, and scratch patterns were also incorporated, creating fun and versatile fillers to the wire frame letters and other graphic elements.

Helen tells us: "Shapes were also a key theme in the moodboards and are a great way to frame written content and showcase images. Three shapes have been introduced; a triangle, a hexagon and a square to create these clusters each using colours and patterns across the whole palette to tie the identity together. This year, the idea of playful illustrations of the line-up was also brought in to keep the TEDxBrum style very unique to the event and to help bring a crafted element to the visual style, breaking up the dramatic sharp edges and patterns." 

Each speaker and performer from this year's line-up was hand drawn by local illustrator Louise Byng using pencil, and the resulting images were used on the TEDxBrum website, across social media and in our printed programme, as well as signed prints of the artwork being presented as part of 'thank you' gift bags to our speakers and performers."It felt really special to be able to create that level of detail, with a lot of recipients sharing how much this and other little touches curated by the team had added to their wider experience of being part of the event", says Byng.

Social media was key to building up the energy around the event, with the line-up being revealed gradually in the weeks leading up to the day itself via twitter and facebook. The written content in these announcements graphics was minimal allowing for the accompanying social media text to flesh out the details, keeping the social media posts simple, shareable and more memorable.

Byng adds: Working with Helen's vibrant colour scheme and incorporating textures into the drawings digitally was a new challenge for me, and I think the combination of hand-rendered marks and digital vectors is what sets these illustrations apart, bringing an entirely new dimension to my work. The announcements were fast-paced and required consistent teamwork between myself and Helen to bring the different elements together and keep things super high quality despite the quick turnaround. The outcome is absolutely a testament to the #PowerOfUs itself, as neither of us could have produced these outcomes by working in silo.

Connect with Helen & Byng on twitter:
@HelenCPage | @ByngSquirrel

The Creative #PowerOfUs - Part 3

Last month we asked creatives to submit pieces inspired by this years TEDxBrum theme - the #PowerOfUs. Here are our final selection of entries by some of Birmingham's creative talent.

Below: Convivencia. Pencil and watercolour on paper.


'Convivencia' is the Spanish term for co-existence, and is the name given to the period of rule in Spain in the early eighth century under governance of the Umayyad Muslims, up until the forced expulsion of the Muslims and Jews in 1492. Like the lines in the painting, things weren't perfect, but it has been widely claimed that the Christians, Muslims and Jews lived and prospered together in Andalucia, southern Spain. Great advances were made in music, literature, the sciences, architecture and cross cultural education. The pattern drawn is from the Alhambra in Granada. 

Although it's a complicated pattern with many steps, the progression shows how the intersections of lines and circles can build something worthwhile. That with the principles of harmony, symmetry and balance, things may go wrong, and they may not always be accurate, but we could end up with something quite beautiful.

by Shaheen Kasmani

We love Shaheen's work, check her out at: 

This interconnected #PowerOfUs piece is by Sabah Nazir. Connect with her on twitter at @_sabah_nazir & @FutureEngineer_

A HUGE thank you to all the amazing creatives who took time to submi to the brief, we've loved sharing your interpretations.

Stay creative Birmingham,
TEDxBrum Team

The Creative #PowerOfUs - Part 2

Last month we asked creatives to submit pieces inspired by this years TEDxBrum theme - the #PowerOfUs. Here are some more of the responses from Birmingham-based artists Pete Ashton and Sarah Radulovich.

This piece was sent to us by Pete Ashton @peteashton, fellow at Birmingham Open Media and creator of Bham Camera Obscura. Find out more about his work here.

These photos were taken in Birmingham with a vintage Flexaret camera by Sarah Radulovich. Check out more from her on her blog.

A huge to the artists featured in this post, and everyone else who submitted something based on the #PowerOfUs. We look forward to sharing more creative responses soon!


Longing for TEDxBrum

Illustrations by this year's TEDxBrum illustrator Louise Byng

Illustrations by this year's TEDxBrum illustrator Louise Byng

Dear Deidre,
I feel a bit silly writing this, but I’m really struggling at the mo’  - got a lot of emotions whirling around my head and heart. I thought I was over this, as it happened about 18 months ago, but I'm not. I'm still not over TED, my ex, or TEDx as I call him.

The last time we got involved was in November 2014 in Brum. We had a blast. Honestly, it was amazing - we were good for each other. What I loved about TEDx is the way he'd put across the simplest things in such a powerful way, and always had ideas worth sharing. He was inspirational and had a real thirst for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and his passion expanded my mind and allowed me to grow as a person.
I know what you're thinking, it was 18 months ago, and it won't be the same this time. But I think it will, in fact, I think it’ll be even better! It's all about the Power of Us, right? 

Friends ask me why I want to get involved again, but it’s hard to explain. I lead a good life, full of variety laughter family and joy, yet, I feel down and have been for the past 18 months. I feel like I need my fix. I need TEDxBrum!

I really miss what we had, which is why I need some advice,  as he coming back to Brum this week(!) It always felt like a real event and I can't lie, I really want to get involved again.
Yours sincerely,
A longing TEDxBrum love

by Karen Blanchette
TEDxBrum Champion

Sorry we were gone so long. Don't miss out - get your next TEDxBrum fix here.