Client: Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Industry: Sports, International Events
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.
The Relay begins on 7 October 2021 at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will place Her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. The Baton then takes on an incredible 294-day journey through all nations and territories of the Commonwealth, arriving back in England in July 2022.
The Baton was conceived in an innovative West Midlands collaboration that fuses art, technology, and science. Product designers and engineers Raymont-Osman Product Design, design and development specialists Kajul, both based in rural Warwickshire, along with Coventry-based MAOKWO, headed up by artist Laura Nyahuye, each injected their creativity and expertise into the Baton. The technology within the Baton is the work of BOM (Birmingham Open Media), a leading centre for art, technology and science in central Birmingham, dedicated to ‘creative innovation with purpose’.
Influenced by her Zimbabwean heritage, artistic skills, activism and community engagement work, Laura brings her passion for tactile and non-precious materials, coupled with the influence of young voices, and lived experiences to the design of the Baton. Using a multi-medium approach, Laura and a team of young creatives at MAOKWO explored themes of the meaning of the Commonwealth, sustainability, the strength and fortitude of women within Commonwealth communities, which has directly influenced the Baton’s design and concept.
The Baton champions the individuality in humanity and celebrates bringing people together. It embodies the idea that every individual has distinctive lived experiences that are threaded together and woven into a collective tapestry of cultures. The Baton form is entwined with unique components and displays connectivity to represent the power of collaboration.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is one of the most special aspects of the Commonwealth Games as it so vividly symbolises the friendship, respect and unity across our 72 nations and territories.
When Her Majesty The Queen places Her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton at Buckingham Palace next week, it will start a spectacular 294-day journey that will begin the final countdown to the Opening Ceremony.
I know that communities across the Commonwealth will be so excited to see the Baton as it passes through their own villages, towns and cities.
I hope that as many Commonwealth citizens as possible can be part of the Relay so that they can experience the true magic of the Commonwealth Games.
Dame Louise Martin DBE
Commonwealth Games Federation
The Baton’s form
The shape of the Baton moves away from the traditional shape seen in previous editions of The Queen’s Baton. With Birmingham 2022 making history by being the first major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men, the strength and fortitude of women across the Commonwealth is celebrated throughout the design of the Baton.
Lining the length of the Baton is a platinum strand, paying homage to The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year, as well as celebrating her role as the Head of the Commonwealth.
To represent the bronze, silver and gold medals that athletes will be competing for, the Baton has been cast using accessible, non-precious metals of copper, aluminium and brass. By using aluminium forged using the traditional method of lost wax casting in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the Baton has used the centuries of local expertise and craftsmanship that gives Birmingham its reputation as the city of a thousand trades.
The Baton’s design
Etched onto a steel plaque on the top of the Baton is the Birmingham 2022 logo, a distinctive ‘B’ shape which is a visual representation of communities across the West Midlands. The mechanised chamber sitting beneath the brass leaf plaque will be opened at the Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony to reveal The Queen’s message.
The Commonwealth Games Federation logo is also visible on the Baton, an emblem that reflects the key values of humanity, equality and destiny.
As the Baton travels on its journey and tells stories from communities, the warm copper tones of the Baton will develop a mesmerising patina, a blue-green film that forms on the material after exposure, demonstrating how it will evolve in appearance as it is passed from Batonbearer to Batonbearer.
The Baton’s technology
Enhanced with cutting-edge technologies, the Baton will capture data and stories from across the Commonwealth, shining a spotlight on grassroots innovation and celebrating the people driving change within their communities. The Baton features LED lighting and a heartrate sensor that display the heartbeats of Batonbearers. The lighting also changes when two people grip the Baton during handover, celebrating collaboration and the sharing of wisdom between young and old. In a time where human contact has been limited, the Baton addresses how connections matter more than ever.
As well as an illuminated heartbeat, the Baton also has ‘lungs’, consisting of atmospheric sensors with laser technology that analyses the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world. Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to creatively visualise the data captured throughout the journey to invite more awareness of and conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth. The data will contribute to the ongoing research projects being conducted by atmospheric scientist Professor Francis Pope and his team at the University of Birmingham.
Fitted with a 360-degree camera, the Baton also has ‘eyes’, and a ‘brain’ which records and transmits imagery and digital information, allowing stories from Commonwealth communities to be told. GPS technology allows the Baton to be tracked on its travels.
The team of creators were photographed with the Baton on the balcony of the offices of PwC, the Official Supplier of Professional Advisory Services for Birmingham 2022, which overlooks the iconic Birmingham landmarks of Centenary Square and the Library of Birmingham.
The global journey will conclude at the Birmingham 2022 Opening Ceremony where the final Batonbearer will return the Baton to Her Majesty The Queen.
“The Queen’s Baton Relay is a special tradition for the Games and a fantastic opportunity to connect the Commonwealth as we countdown to Birmingham 2022. Unveiling the Baton and its international journey is an exciting milestone for us, as we’re just days away from the official launch of the Relay.
“The Baton is the stunning result of art, traditional craftmanship and innovative technology, all designed and made right here in the West Midlands, and I can’t wait to see it embark on its epic journey where thousands of Batonbearers will interact with it. It will be visiting some wonderful places before arriving back here in Birmingham for the Opening Ceremony on 28 July 2022.”
Chief Creative Officer