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Monsters of the World

25 June to 9 July 2022

Looking into the Commonwealth connections of Birmingham’s industrial past, this project by Toronto-based artist Jon McCurley focuses on the global chocolate trade through the lens of his Irish-Vietnamese roots, working-class family histories in the UK, and his parents’ experience of meeting whilst working for Cadbury’s. 

With the help and expertise of his parents, McCurley has created a replica chocolate bar food made of 100% Coberine: a manufactured vegetable fat product invented by Cadbury’s as an inexpensive replacement for cocoa during the 1970’s. Using humour and satire as his tools, McCurley presents Taste Test; an interactive stall as part of the Bournville Village Festival, where audiences are encouraged to interact with his live consumer survey. 

Over two consecutive weekends and within historic green spaces in Bournville, costumed actors will perform Monsters of the World on Tour. Treating the spaces as something of a nature reserve, the fake attraction comprises a variety of ‘monster people’ from different parts of the world. Based on well-known, exaggerated, and racially charged depictions by European explorers and missionaries of what people in other continents looked like, audiences will be motivated to think about the Monsters’ well-being, and how responsible they are for how they are treated. 


Taste Test
Saturday 25 June, 1pm-10.30pm
Bournville Village Festival, Linden Road. B30 1JR

Monsters of the World Tour
Digbeth First Friday 1 July, 6–8pm
Eastside Projects

Saturday 2 July, 10am–4pm
Women’s Recreation Ground, Bournville
Access via Bournville Lane or Mary Vale Road. B30 2LU

Saturday 9 July, 10am–4pm
Bournville Park
Access via Linden Road or Selly Oak Road. 

Alongside projects by Amy Ching-Yan Lam, Rajni Perera, and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Jon’s project is part of our programme for Birmingham 2022 Festival. This programme is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Canada House, Canada Council for the Arts and British Council.

Jon McCurley (b.1982, Toronto / Tkaronto) works in performance, film, sculpture, and comedy. Jon is of Vietnamese and Irish descent. He was half of the art group Life of a Craphead (2006 – 2020) and was co-founder of the performance and music venue Double Double Land (2008-2017).

Life of a Craphead performance projects include King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don River (2017), where a life-size replica of a well-known colonial statue was dumped into a Toronto river on a weekly basis for a month and Doored (2012 – 2017), a monthly live broadcast performance art show that featured over 150 performers over the span of 5 years. In 2018, Life of a Craphead was nominated for the Sobey Art Award.