The monument presents contemporary reimaginations of the female artist and male forger supporting the official coat of arms of the City of Birmingham working with 25 ordinary citizens to ‘drag’ the crest from the ground. This reimagined crest incorporates two famous quotations from the poem ‘We Refugees’ by poet and actor Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘No one is here without a struggle’ and ‘We all came here from somewhere.’ Zephaniah described the monument as a ‘symbol of Birmingham and the Midlands.’
Forward Together is about people working together towards a shared future, respectful of their differences, and committed in their shared values and a promise of a better tomorrow.
The monument was designed by Black Country artist Luke Perry, who built it in 14 days in the midst of lockdown alongside Edward Cadbury Honorary Fellow Raaj Shamji, artists Haldin Wright, Pauline Bailey and Natalie Perry.
Luke and the team wanted to respond to the fact that public art lacked inclusion of everyday people and art that depicts that together we are stronger.
The monument is the inspiration for a programme of activities which seeks to engage the wider community of the West Midlands in thinking about what togetherness means for them, in real and practical ways. The message that ‘we are stronger together’ needs to be more than just a saying, it needs to be explored, outworked and implemented in practical ways in our community. Using the monument as a catalyst, the Forward Together project will host a series of dialogues in various formats from town hall meetings, to podcasts, to private roundtables. To express an interest in taking part in these events or to learn more, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.