Generations by Julian Germain : Exhibited in the public realm 27 May – 30 Sept 2022, in partnership with Multistory, part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival

Generations by Julian Germain

GENERATIONS is a groundbreaking project which celebrates the diversity and heritage of Birmingham and Black Country families.

Julian Germain’s GENERATIONS uses the format of the family portrait to craft a fascinating celebration of the people of Birmingham, coinciding with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Germain’s photographs of the 30 families that took part will appear in the public realm over the summer months.  They will feature on billboards, banners, poster sites and at a display at Birmingham New Street Station. 

(c) Thom Bartley for Jack Arts

In addition to exploring universal human themes, GENERATIONS offers an authentic portrait of a diverse region, acting both as an invaluable historical record and thought-provoking work of art.

Germain’s images reflect upon time itself – the past, present and future – via their detailed representation of direct lines of genetic descent from old age to infancy across 4 and even 5 living generations. It’s an ongoing discussion about the life cycle, the ageing process, human biology and characteristics. What do we inherit through our genes and what comes from our culture, our upbringing and the surroundings, which form an essential backdrop to each group portrait? 

Families from across Birmingham and the Black Country responded to a call out, made in November 2021, looking for four and five generation families that showcase all different stages of life; new-borns, infants, children, teens and their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, many coming together for the first time since Covid. 

The artist spent time with the families exploring old family photos, their history and their lives uncovering deeply personal stories from mixed race marriages in the 1970s looked down on by other people, Birmingham born and bred five-generation families, the first Bangladeshi woman to be elected to the council in the Midlands, Bournville workers, and Italian emigres who spoke no English on arrival, and a couple who met at an Italian Dance at Edgbaston Reservoir’s Tower Ballroom.

When experiencing GENERATIONS, audiences can expect to encounter fundamental questions that relate to us all; life, death, time and the effects of time, where do we come from and where will we go? 

(c) Thom Bartley for Jack Arts

GENERATIONS is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to our Media Partner Jack Arts who have brought this to life for us across the city

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.