Museums, My City, and An Artist’s Debt

I owe a lot to the Birmingham Community Museums. My relationship with them is a sight more personal than that of a habitual visitor: my mother worked within them for over twenty years, and so, I grew up immersed in the unique confluence between the arts, heritage and education, all tied together in her vocation.

She began working in museums when I was a year old, encouraged by my father, who is, himself, an artist and creative. My mother was part of the original team that reopened the Smith & Pepper jewellery factory, and its extension into the neighbouring building, as the Jewellery Quarter Discovery Centre- now the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter- in 1992. My entire childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, in weekends and holidays, were spent across the community museum sites, in the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in particular. The insight that I was gifted into the machinations of each has inspired what I hope to be a lifetime of magic and imagination, held fast, by the city’s hallmark anchor, in Birmingham’s rich, sooty history.

I recently shared a post about my involvement in a photographic project, conceived by Arpita Shah and commissioned by GRAIN Projects, entitled ‘Modern Muse.’
That there now exists a portrait of me, as part of Birmingham Museums Trust’s official collection, in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the focal heritage site in my city, where I also had my Year 10 work experience, aged 15, is monumentally moving and poignant: it is an honour and opportunity that I cherish with every part of me.

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