The unveiling of a 20ft mural paying homage to Lady Wulfruna took centre stage at a launch event for a Wolverhampton entrepreneur’s new venture.
Businesswoman and former police officer Bal Heer who founded leading Birmingham estate agents Regional Homes commissioned the artwork to mark the expansion of her business and the opening of her first branch in her hometown.
It was revealed at an opening ceremony at the new office on Cannock Road by Midlands TV news legend Bob Warman on Friday, July 26.
The work by renowned Midlands street artist, Doddz, reflects a ‘defying the odds’ ethos. The artist’s commercial career was launched in 2017 following a major project in Stoke. He is now a much sought-after artist involved in projects across the country.
Entitled ‘Wulfrun’, the mural is intended as a modern-day reminder that Wolverhampton is unique, not only because it was founded by a woman, but because that woman managed to secure the city’s safety and future prosperity at a time of great turmoil.
“Just as Wolverhampton was in good hands with its founder, Regional Homes’ ethos is ensuring people’s homes remain in good hands with their company,” says Doddz, “which is where I took my inspiration for this piece.”
Bal said: “I love that Doddz’ message of defying the odds, which is where his name originates, ties in with mine and it’s been wonderful to see the mural take shape.
“We’ve both defied the odds to become successful in our respective careers and I love that Doddz uses his creativity to convey positive messages about challenging conformity and striving to reach your potential, regardless of the obstacles in your way.”
As a businesswoman, Bal says she faced many challenges in terms of being taken seriously in roles of responsibility and seniority, but the struggle made her more determined to prove herself.
After four years in West Midlands police force, Bal moved into a sales role with Arcedia Direct, a direct sales company for Scottish Power. Within her first year at the firm, she was promoted to manager and turned the company’s failing Wolverhampton office into their flagship branch with the highest turnover of all of their 17 UK offices.
She became the firm’s first female manager to win Manager of the Year in 2004.
Returning to work in an established estate agency after a five-year gap to bring up her family, she found that the same recognition for her hard work and dedication wasn’t forthcoming.
This triggered the move to launch Regional Homes in 2014, which has gone from strength to strength in Birmingham and led to the recent expansion into Wolverhampton.
Doddz’ story is equally inspirational.
Suffering from severe dyslexia, Doddz was labelled as special needs at school and his hopes of studying at university were dashed when he failed his A-levels.
Discovering a passion for art and creativity and having the drive to succeed against the odds enabled him to live his dream.
The success he found in launching his own graphic design business, working with the likes of James Corden, enabled him to enrol on a design course at Stoke University. It is here his double life as anonymous street artist ‘Professor Pigment’ began.
The light-hearted street art he created around Stoke on Trent, which Doddz says was intended to celebrate inspiring stories and raise a smile, gained much media attention and mixed reactions. His Professor Pigment alias even received hate mail and death threats.
But Stoke City Council recognised his brilliance and commissioned him to complete 25 murals around Stoke on Trent, incorporating an exhibition at Trentham Gardens. His identity was finally revealed at the exhibition’s unveiling with an accompanying documentary released about the student and his secret alias. It was an instant viral hit.
Now he chooses to work with those whose message resonates with his own philosophy. That we don’t need to conform to succeed.
“Labels shouldn’t define us,” he says. “Everyone’s potential is limitless.
“Because of Bal’s story and determination, I felt our messages were in harmony which is why I took on this project.”
Walsall-born ITV Central News presenter Bob Warman was among special guests at the grand opening.
The 72-year-old said: “I was asked to come down and support this new branch and I’m delighted to do so, I wish them every success.
“The boss, Bal, is a very impressive lady, full of pride and enthusiasm, and I think she’ll do extremely well, she’s very driven and successful.
“I like the artwork very much, I like good street art, it’s very clever, and much more interesting than just a blank wall, and people will notice it and hopefully respect it.
“It’s a very nice piece of work with a good message.
“I love the Black Country, its where my roots are, it’s a great part of the world and I love the people here.”
Bal continued: “I love that Wolverhampton was founded by a visionary woman who defied the odds to create a prosperous community.
“I hope the community of Wolverhampton will enjoy the mural.”