Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research
  Under the sun


Saranjit Birdi

Saranjit worked with Elizabeth Turrell on the construction of a stainless steel, painted stainless steel and vitreous enamelled mildsteel circular panel measuring 430cm x 245cm x 45cm. 'Under The Sun'  is a gateway sculpture commissioned by Birmingham City Council to celebrate the cultural diversity of Handsworth's communities and was undertaken in partnership with Handsworth Traders Association, Soho Road businesses, St. Michael's Church and local people. It mark a key stage in the economic and environmental regeneragtion work in Soho Road ad Handsworth and was officially unveiled on 11 February 2010.

The sculpture is reminiscient of chronometric and navigational instruments. The central 'Coin of Colours' makes reference to Matthew Boulton's coins developed at the Soho 'manufactory' for the British colonies in Africa and India. Its colours allude to those of the African, Asian and European climates and landscapes. The three figures at the top join hands in a universal dance across the sky, bridging their territorial histories. As the sun rotates overhead, their shadows and the observer's shadow will always be cast in the same direction. No matter where we stand,  or from which four corners of the world we hail, as the poem around the rim of the coin reads:

                       UNDER THE SUN
                       OUR SHADOWS POINT
                       IN THE SAME DIRECTION
                                                         Saranjit Birdi

Matthew Boulton was a member of the Lunar Society, a group of enlightened scientists, philosophers, inventors and entreureneurs that met at the nearby Soho House (now Soho House Museum). This Society was one of the first groups to make a stand against exploitation of indigenous peoples in the British colonies. The panels on the legs of the sculpture incorporate images by local school children. They depict coinage from the countries of origin of the various communities in Handsworth and voice the sentiments of the young.