Balsall Heath Biennale

Surreal House Competition

£300 First Prize / £150 Second Prize / £75 Third Prize    

Balsall Heath has an unlikely history of Surrealism, with English surrealist Conroy Maddox living in the area during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The ‘Decorate Your House Competition: Surreal Theme’ was open to anyone in Balsall Heath and judged by Dr Stephen Forcer, a specialist in Surrealism from Birmingham University. The winning entries formed a surreal house trail across the local area as part of the biennale.

Using the project as a starting point, Dr Saskia Warren & Dr Stephen Forcer were successful in securing funding from the Communities and Culture Network+ to conduct research on the Birmingham Surrealist Group in Balsall Heath and whether surrealism is culturally coded (i.e. whether surrealism is something only recognised by Western cultures?). Building upon the platform and networks established by the ‘Decorate Your House Competition: Surreal Theme’, the research investigated cultural, religious, linguistic and educational barriers to engagement and the translation of humour within the context of Balsall Heath.