Birmingham is set to be the third English city to host the Commonwealth Games, after London in 1934 and Manchester in 2002 ©Getty Images

Birmingham-based company Eastside Projects has collaborated with South African artist Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi to create a series of new artworks as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games culture programme.

The programme is funded by the British Council and has allowed for a link to be formed between the West Midlands city and Johannesburg, where Nkosi moved to at 12 years old.

"In 2014 I made a trip to Johannesburg, supported by British Council, to learn about new artists and their work and was fortunate to meet Thenjiwe on a studio visit," said Gavin Wade, director of Eastside Projects.

"I was immediately struck by Thenjiwe’s exploration of architecture through painting which has developed over the years into a rich, complex painterly and critical space of black gymnasts occupying, surviving and supporting each other within imposing colourful geometries.

"This research and development phase, made possible thanks to British Council and the Birmingham 2022 culture programme, has allowed us to explore a collaboration that would have otherwise not been possible.

"We now look forward to the possibility of bringing our research to life in an exciting series of works set here in Birmingham."

Nkosi’s art explores, among other things, the notion of black people inhabiting spaces where they have historically been excluded, mostly in what would be designed as traditionally white spaces.

The development of this work would bring the artist’s creative processes to spaces within Birmingham.

It is hoped that the final output of the project will become a part of the Birmingham 2022 culture programme, a six-month cultural festival across Birmingham and the West Midlands from March to August 2022.

The festival aims to promote and showcase the diverse creative talent of the city and region to a global audience.

"Although I have been to the UK, I have never had the chance to spend any time in Birmingham," said Nkosi.

"This project has allowed me to learn about the city through digitally connecting with people there - and I am particularly interested in black history in the region."

The project is one of seven research and development programmes funded by the British Council for the culture programme which has connected artists and companies based in the West Midlands with creatives in Commonwealth countries.

Other work includes linking Coventry company Imagineer Productions with groups in Ghana, India and Bali to share sculpting with bamboo.

Birmingham's Beatfreeks has been partnered with Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company in Rwanda to pay young artists in both territories the equivalent living wage to develop their work.