Celebrating Birmingham’s diversity by going 'Forward Together'
Unveiling the 4th July 2021
The Forward Together monument inspired by the Birmingham motto brings together 25 ordinary diverse Midlanders that are extraordinary in their endeavors. The real people that are not usually celebrated, have their own unique stories to motivate and inspire others. From those that suffered domestic abuse, to cancer, to disabilities, violence and bloodshed (Holocaust), to simple acceptance in society, to racism, to mental health. The monument visibly represents our multi-coloured multicultural society.
The monument is pertinent to our times. The current female artist and male forger (as per the Forward crest) are working with the 25 ordinary citizens to drag out of the ground a crest. Birmingham poet and actor Benjamin Zephaniah quotes which he approved are embossed on the crest. "No one is here without a struggle" and "We all came here from somewhere".
The monument was built in 14 days in Cradley Heath led by artist Luke Perry for a competition to be aired in October 2021 (details of the competition are currently confidential). Luke has an amazing background in public art, representing those that are underrepresented. He brought together people like myself from the community, to build this monument that addresses the imbalance of representation in public monuments. Those that have seen it, including Benjamin Zephaniah, state that this is a "symbol of Birmingham and the Midlands". Others have said it’s a great masterpiece for diversity or simply a monument that demonstrates what happens when we all work together, supporting the city’s ethics and values.
Even though we were in the midst of a lockdown we challenged ourselves on getting real people to be models for the monument. It would have been far easier if we simply got silhouettes of people that represent the city but we decided to retain the integrity and the soul of the message. Luke's team who in themselves represent the diversity of the Midlands were trained in his Cradley Heath factory, where this monument was made. An empowering piece that allows people to represent themselves that can be copied and adapted for anywhere in the world. We are proud to have done this simple concept for our Forward City.
“I’m looking forward to unveiling this impressive piece of work which reflects not just the diversity of our great city, but also what can happen when people work together. The fact that Luke has been inspired by local people with extraordinary stories to illustrate the diversity of our city and how we can come together to achieve things is a great message for Birmingham – and beyond.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council.