Public works of art exemplify inclusion. There is no entrance fee nor an imposing threshold to cross. They are accessible at all times to all people.
Much of what we recognise as ‘Art’ is housed in listed buildings in major cities. These architectural palaces are works of art themselves, but their history is rarely free from controversy.
The fruits of empire bought untold wealth into Britain, much of which was invested in culture.
Many of the museums and galleries were funded by taxes levied in colonial outposts. Little wonder statues raised in these institutions are rarely working class, female or people of colour. The oppressed were never destined to be immortalised in stone.
The end of empire and post war saw Britain down, but not out. Just as soldiers from the colonies stood shoulder to shoulder with British soldiers, these very same people were called upon to help rebuild the nation. And rebuild they did. Together.
Here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, immigration has helped shape the environment and this is illustrated in the city’s newest piece of public art, ‘Forward Together.’
A team led by Black Country based Artist Luke Perry and Raaj Shamji from BCU (Birmingham City University) with artists Pauline Bailey, Nats Perry and H Wright have created a masterpiece which sits in the very heart of Birmingham.
The monument comprises twenty five ordinary everyday people who are extraordinary in their own ways and who all contributed to the creation. They are collectively pulling a chain lifting a shield with the city’s motto ‘Forward’ across the top and ‘Together’ along the bottom.
It pays homage to the citizens of our city region; those who were born here and those who came here. It salutes their collective efforts in creating the place we now all call home.
‘Forward Together’ will sit in Victoria Square for twelve months before finding a permanent home.
I propose, not for this structure to be moved into a museum, but for a gallery to be build upon it. A gallery that showcases the achievements of everyone in society. One that demonstrates, to the world, that human beings can achieve anything the heart desires, together.