The iconic, bulbous blue and silver facade of Selfridges Birmingham has been transformed into something altogether more otherworldly. This is the work of multidisciplinary artist ​​Osman Yousefzada, whose vast new installation, Infinity Pattern 1 measures in at 10,000 sq m, and weighs five tonnes.

The piece – co-commissioned with Ikon gallery – comprises an endlessly tessellating pattern of angular pink and black shapes, addressing themes of migration, race and labour. Beyond a striking public art installation, and a dramatic new landmark for Birmingham’s Bullring, Infinity Pattern 1 is also a record-breaker, taking the title of the ‘world’s largest canvas’. 

For Yousefzada, who is Birmingham-born, and the son of Pakistani-Afghan migrants, the work is steeped in biography but also holds universal resonance. In its infinitely tessellating pattern, it imagines a world without borders. ‘The work is entrenched in autoethnographic elements of migration, community formation and how they happen, interact and settle,’ says Yousefzada. ‘The work reflects my personal story and more widely my ethnic history and some of the symbolism inherent to my culture.’

Continuing Selfridges’ commitment to creativity in the cities its stores inhabit, the commission – in situ until the end of 2021 – is accompanied by an in-store art exhibition, shop and art trail all co-designed and co-curated with Ikon. These elements and expand on the subjects raised by Infinity Pattern 1, featuring further new works by Yousefzada, and pieces by Birmingham artists Hira Butt, Farwa Moledina and Maryam Wahid. 

Yousefzada’s additional work – anchored by a series of mixed-media works on paper – was developed through a recent residency at Birmingham’s School of Art in Fine Art Printmaking and Sculpture. The new pieces challenge the stereotypes of ‘The Model Migrant’ and the perception of Brown Bodies in the Western world. 

Selfridges creative director, Hannah Emslie said: ‘Selfridges is celebrating the communities of Birmingham through a unique art commission that represents both optimism and transformation. This new work by Osman Yousefzada is uplifting but also meaningful and deeply connected to the fabric and culture of the city. By changing the skyline – at a time when the city itself is changing – we hope to make the world brighter through creative expression, and the people of Birmingham even prouder of their iconic city.’ §

Osman Yousefzada shares his ode to Birmingham, the city that shaped him

Hira Butt, Dhee Kahani, 2020. Courtesy the artist. Copyright the artist

Maryam Wahid, Women from the Pakistani Diaspora in England, 2018. Courtesy the artist. Copyright Maryam Wahid

Farwa Moledina, No one is neutral here, 2019. Courtesy Ikon