10th December 2021

Meet Project Champion, Lorna Laidlaw

We are honoured and thrilled that Lorna Laidlaw has joined us as project champion for From City of Empire, to City of Diversity: A Visual Journey.

On Friday 3 December 2021, Selly Park Girls School hosted the launch of the schools touring exhibition which was attended by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Muhammad Afzal and Coronation Street star and Project Champion Lorna Laidlaw.

We have been working in partnership with Birmingham Archives, the University of Birmingham and Historic England to create an extensive citywide engagement programme for schools highlighting the important contribution made by those who settled in Birmingham from the Commonwealth. Twenty school partners across the city will host and explore a touring exhibition and classroom resources involving over 1200 students aged from 7-16.

The schools engagement programme is part of our From City of Empire, to City of Diversity: A Visual Journey which will culminate in a major exhibition at the Library of Birmingham in March 2022 ahead of the Commonwealth Games. We are currently creating the exhibition using photographs from The Dyche Collection, one of the most important photographic collections within Birmingham Archives featuring over 10,000 photographs documenting post-1945 migration.

Speaking about the programme Birmingham born Lorna commented, 

“From City of Empire to City of Diversity is a wonderful project, which I am proud to be part of. It connects our young people with the lives and experiences of our elders, which is essential in understanding the story of Birmingham. The Dyche photographs remind us that we are indebted to those people from the Commonwealth who settled here. Exploring our migration history can enable our young people to be proud of who they are and proud to be a Brummie. How fantastic is that?”

Black and Asian histories are a vital part of England’s story and the project aims to help students learn about their own heritage, how and why people migrated, understand different cultures and religions but mostly to feel proud to be part of the rich history of Birmingham.

Speaking at the launch, Robert Turner, Assistant Headteacher at Selly Park Girls School said “In response to the fabulous training provided by the Sampad team we’ve been able to introduce pupils to this wonderful collection of photographs.

We found that all of the pupils who have seen the exhibition have connected in their own personal way and their outcomes clearly demonstrate the passion that has helped them produce their own artwork. It gives me great joy to know that pupils are going home and speaking to their parents’ grandparents and great-grandparents and finding out about the stories that may have been lost had they not seen the exhibition.

Work produced by some of the students participating in the project will be included in the main exhibition at the Library of Birmingham in March 2022.

Read more about the project here sampad.org.uk/projects/2020-2022-from-city-of-empire-to-city-of-diversity-a-visual-journey/

L to R – Rachel Gartside (Sampad Project Learning Manager), Mr R Turner (Assistant Head Selly Park Girls School), Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Muhammad Afzal, Lorna Laidlaw (Project Champion), Sabra Khan (Sampad Executive Director)

and support from The Cole Charitable Trust
Made possible thanks to #NationalLottery players!