Highlights of my work with The Sikh Development Academy who receive funding from Historic England to gather the heritage narratives from Smethwick where a large majority of households identify as Sikh since first settling in the 1950s from Punjab, India.
Recruiting young people who trained as community journalists, recorded the untold stories from Sikh mothers who migrated to Smethwick and contributed to the textiles industry as machine operatives.
The focus was on the unheard voices of Sikh mothers who migrated from Punjab, India having to raise their children, whilst supporting the faith community as essential volunteers in the community kitchen, also on how they contributed significantly to the success of the textile industry. Thus, the title from Rages To Riches.
The young people learnt about these mothers’ personal journeys and their stories with other women across Sandwell.
The Sikh Development Academy captured lived experiences from these Sikh mothers’, their aspirations, dreams, work, and family life along with their resilience. Together they contributed to creating a large textile art piece that was stitched together – just like their stories to express a ‘common thread’.
This project gave Sikh-Punjabi mothers a chance to share their untold stories of their contribution in Smethwick’s industrial progress. These mothers came from isolated rural villages to an alien country where they had to develop their own survival networks. Realising they have a traditional skillset in sewing, they turned this into a living, as machine operatives and contributed to the household income, building an equitable position in the family whilst supporting their children to focus on educational attainment.
The work created during this project will be exhibited at Smethwick Library (High Street, Smethwick, B66 3AP) between Tue 25th – Sun 30th July, 10am – 4pm with the main event being held on Sat 29th July.