13th May 2023


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This symposium will consider the impact of From City of Empire to City of Diversity: A Visual Journey heritage project, exploring its legacy

From City of Empire to City of Diversity: A Visual Journey has been a 3-year partnership project led by Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage with the Library of Birmingham and the University of Birmingham. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it engaged communities and young people in exploring the City’s history and heritage through archives and collections held in the Library of Birmingham Archives. A particular focus was the Dyche Collection, the fascinating contents of a photography studio operating in Birmingham from c1910 to the 1980s, together with photographs documenting city life from the 19th century to the present day.

The project enabled the 10,000 items in the Dyche Collection to be catalogued and better stored, making it more accessible for further study. Exhibitions were created from the archival collections and from new work by young people responding to the Dyche photographs. An ongoing learning programme delivered by Sampad’s Learning team continues to be delivered to schools across the City.

This Symposium celebrates the achievements of this project, and you will hear from teachers, young people, volunteers, archivists, conservators and curators involved in the project’s delivery. We also want to engage in conversation with you about how we can build on the legacies of the project and identify next steps.


1pm: Arrival

1.10pm – 1.30pm: Looking Back, Going Forward – Ranjit Sondh CBE, Chairperson Sampad

Thinking visually about Birmingham’s history; Making personal and collective connections with the city’s past; Connecting the past with Birmingham’s present and the Black Lives Matter movement; How history can help shape the future; Birmingham as the UK’s first anti-racist city.

1.30pm – 2pm: The Dyche Collection: Activating archives – Nicola Crews and Lucy Angus, Birmingham Archives

What the collection is and how ‘activating’ material (such as this) in Birmingham Archives contributes to our collective understanding/depicting of Birmingham History; Putting people at the centre; Acknowledging the ordinary and the extraordinary in people’s lives. How the project, through cataloguing, conservation, and display brought the archive into the public space, making it more visible and accessible.; Connecting archives across time and space; Archives as a vehicle for learning and inclusive legacy.

2pm – 2.40pm: Photographic memories: Learning from the Dyche Collection

Teacher, student and Sampad perspectives, developing learning programmes, impacts & legacies

2.40pm – 3pm: Experiencing archives through volunteering – Nicola Crews, Birmingham Archives and volunteers

Making physical, personal and emotional connections with the visual past

3pm – 4pm: The Future is Now

Group Discussion sessions Feedback

4pm – 4.15pm: What Next & Closing Remarks – Rita Mclean, Co-Curator

To help us reduce wasted refreshments, please let us know if you are no longer able to attend so your place can be allocated.