Connecting Stories: the Library of Birmingham and the British Library - exhibition now open

Images from the Dyche Collection, Library of Birmingham: MS 2912. 1950 – c.1975. Ernest Dyche and his son Malcolm worked from a studio in Balsall Heath capturing images of local people, principally of South Asian or Caribbean origin. Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Birmingham.

The Library of Birmingham and the British Library are delighted to announce the opening of Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage, (15 July to 4 November 2017, hashtag #connectingstories) an exhibition and community project celebrating the important role South Asian culture has played in forming Britain and Birmingham’s history and identity. The archive material in the exhibition will focus on the countries of present day India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Connecting Stories explores Britain’s enduring connections with South Asia, from historical trading links stretching back 400 years, to the impact of migration and settlement in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The rich and intertwining history of South Asia and the Midlands will be illustrated by photographs, letters, posters, paintings, documents, oral history, music and ephemera, demonstrating how libraries and archives can reveal untold and forgotten stories. Highlights include:

  • The earliest minute book of the East India Company containing a list of its first investors, dating from 1599, and the starting point of close connections between Britain and South Asia
  • A letter signed by Mahatma Gandhi and other South Asian people in Britain, pledging their support during World War I
  • A 17th century map of the East Indies
  • A rare 19th century board game reflecting Britain’s trading interests in Asia and elsewhere
  • Pictures of South Asian people of all classes who came to Britain, including ayahs (nannies), the first Indian man to play cricket for England, a suffragette princess and Sake Dean Mahomed who set up the Hindoostanee Coffee House in London and became Shampooing Surgeon to George IV 
  • 1940s police reports on meetings of the Indian Workers Association and India League in Birmingham
  • Community publications and campaigning materials charting the history of South Asians in the UK in the twentieth century
  • Photographs showing protests and counter-protests in 1960s and 1970s Britain
  • Poetry and art of Nobel prize-winner Rabindranath Tagore who visited Birmingham in 1930, the year his work was exhibited at the City Museum and Art Gallery
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Birmingham in 1931
  • Visitors will be invited to tweet pictures of themselves using the hashtag #brumpeeps, building a digital picture of Birmingham’s communities
  • A range of activities for children and families, including a family trail around the exhibition and three free family days.

In addition to archive material from the Library of Birmingham and the British Library, there will be a series of photographic portraits of the local community featured in the exhibition, highlighting Birmingham’s rich diversity. Community engagement is integral to the project, and there will be a series of workshops and family activities to complement the themes explored by the exhibition, and encourage the local community to add their own stories to the exhibition’s narrative. 

The exhibition will open on Saturday 15 July with the first of three free family days, running from 11am – 4.30pm and featuring music, dance, arts and craft, and much more. The other family days are on 26 August and 21 October.

Throughout 2017, Birmingham’s Utsav: Year of South Asian Culture is celebrating the contribution South Asian communities make to the city. Utsav, meaning festival/celebration, was officially launched on 18 January 2017 and will feature a wide variety of professional and community events and activities throughout the year.

This project, made possible by a grant from The National Lottery, helps forge the next step in an ongoing partnership between the Library of Birmingham and the British Library, following the success last year of Our Shakespeare, a major exhibition at the Library of Birmingham, created in partnership with the British Library, celebrating Shakespeare’s connection with the Midlands.

Images

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Notes to Editors

Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage runs from 15 July – 4 November

Opening hours:

Monday & Tuesday 11am-7pm

Wednesday – Saturday 11am-5pm

Sunday – Closed

 

About The British Library - www.bl.uk

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages.

 

In 2017 the British Library is presenting a special year of events and cultural exchange programmes to celebrate South Asian culture. These include a partnership with the Library of Birmingham, a cultural exchange programme with CSMVS in Mumbai and a new partnership with Jaipur Literature Festival. 

 

About the Library of Birmingham – www.libraryofbirmingham.com

Birmingham City Council’s Library of Birmingham is a major cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries.

 

Described by its architect Francine Houben as a ‘people’s palace’, the Library of Birmingham is highly accessible and family-friendly. It delivers excellent services through collaboration between Birmingham City Council, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, partners and communities. It provides a dynamic mix of events, activities and performance together with outstanding resources, exhibitions and access to expert help for learning, information and culture. As a centre of excellence for literacy, research, study, skills development, entrepreneurship, creative expression, health information and much more, the Library of Birmingham is changing people’s lives.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact:

Ben Sanderson at the British Library on 078100 56848 or ben.sanderson@bl.uk

Birmingham City Council Press Office on 0121 303 3287 or press.office@birmingham.gov.uk

 

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126
e: ben.sanderson@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Press Office contacts

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.