A new artwork used to celebrate and showcase Birmingham’s ‘creativity, diversity and spirit’ has been unveiled in the city centre.
Based in the heart of the city, the distinctive landmark created by Forward Together, which is inspired by Birmingham’s motto ‘Forward’ was made as a 13-metre steel silhouette of a line of 25 diverse figures working together to pull the city’s crest.
The crest, being raised by these figures, also includes the quotes “No one is here without struggle” and “We all came here from somewhere” from ‘We Refugees’ by Birmingham poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
The artist and designer, Luke Perry, who has a background in public art, said his aim behind creating Forward Together was to speak for those that are unrepresented and wanted his art to become a symbol of Birmingham and the Midlands.
Perry said: “There is a rich diversity in the Midlands and I and my team wanted to address the imbalance of representation in public monuments, and this artwork was a good starting point to create conversation about uniting, rather than dividing our communities.”
Perry felt public art in the city lacked the inclusion of everyday people and believed it was crucial to use real people as models in his monument.
“It helped to not only retain the integrity and soul of the message that we are stronger together but also gave multiple voices to the piece that speak to the fact with each other, we can overcome problems and challenges.
“In recent years, there seems to be a growing mood of opposition in the world, we are all encouraged to find our tribe, pick our corner and cram ourselves into a pigeonhole. But Forward Together is a view of an alternative world, one where we can all pull together to raise our society out of the shade.” said Perry.
Desrene Gentles-Simms, who is represented in the artwork, said working with Forward Together gave her the opportunity to add to an important conversation at hand.
“I was very proud to have taken part in this very diveresly infused project. Alongside 24 everyday people, I think in a way, we were able to use our lives to support our city’s ethics and values,” said Desrene.
Stating the artwork as an ‘impressive piece of work’, City Council leader Ian Ward reinforced the important message behind it all.
“It reflects not just the diversity of our great city, but also what can happen when people work together,” said Councillor Ward.
“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.”