Regardless of what you may think this is not a scene from this years Emmy award winning series 'The Handmaids Tale', no its from the other award winning series... that would be the Apna Heritage Archive! These ladies are actually dressed like this representing National Trust and in particular Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton (a lot of drama went on their with King Charles II hiding from Cromwell back in the day!) They were very enthusiastic about the images and articles on our stall along with other members of the public and we had a long day talking to a number of peeps about what we have done/doing with our archive collection. Special thanks to Wolverhampton City Archives for inviting us to be present again this year! - Anand Chhabra
October was quite a busy month for BCVA! Anand Chhabra Chair of BCVA was invited to the Royal Collections Trust at Windsor Castle in October by the Photo Collections Network. It was an amazing treasure trove of photographs held by the Trust as anyone can imagine. There were not only photographs from the royal family of 100+years ago but also collections from the founders of photography as well as world famous photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Cecil Beaton and Mario Testino to name a few! This is where the real crown jewels are kept! Hope to see our collection there one day you never know. Unfortunately but understandably the only image we were allowed to take was this one taken from my phone!
We will be sorry to see the end of our workshops at St Luke's school here in Wolverhampton as part of the Apna Heritage Archive. The photos here document our work with the school in our final series of workshops just in the last two weeks. We have been doing about 5 sessions of workshops with at least 3 year groups over 2 years. It was important to have an educational element to our archive and grateful to St Luke's primary school for their partnership as up to 50% of pupils have Punjabi heritage. The pupils have been empowered by the importance of archiving a collection for future generations and learnt photographic skills. They have also uncovered their own archive kept hidden away at the school for more than a 100 years and thanks to HLF funding will receive display cabinets to put the found photographs, albums and ephemera. Special thanks to all pupils and staff at St Luke's Primary school extremely well done! Thanks also to our brilliant host Jon Everall at City Archives for hosting the tours around Molineux House and their strong rooms at City Archives. Not only that but allowing us to conduct our photographic workshops there. Its been a rewarding partnership for all!
It was great evening at PhotoCafe in Birmingham on 27th September. It was a very interactive presentation with many good questions being asked about the archive and also with 2 new volunteers being signed up! We are grateful for PhotoCafe and Nicola Shipley from GRAIN for the invitation and 1000 Trades pub for hosting this event. For more information at where we will be speaking please do follow our @apna_heritage handle via twitter.
Good things continue to happen and Anand will be speaking about the photography collection 'Apna Heritage Archive' and particularly ways in which photographers as artists need to agglomerate with those in the locality to give their project the best chance of getting off the ground! Doors open at 6p.m. at 1000 trades pub in Jewellery Quarter.
We were interviewed earlier this month at our archive space by the lovely Heather Loat the chief editor at Wolverhampton Magazine. Our 4 page feature in this August issue describes not only how our archive started and the national award we recieved earlier this month but recognises the importance of the history of Punjabi migrants to Wolverhampton and the various impacts that they have had in the Black Country c1960s to 80s. Its great to see some of the hidden truths/stories presented here about this community via the article and through the imagery we have collected. At Black Country Visual Arts we are excited by the prospect of getting the news about the archive to the wider community of Wolverhampton especially as the region has been celebrating Black Country day on July 14th. We are delighted that August issue of the magazine itself is full of arts and culture which is great to see with the inception of the 'Wolves in Wolves' statues which is having a great buzz around town. A very thankful team here at BCVA for highlighting the Apna heritage Archive. Well done to Wolverhampton magazine for a very cultural issue of the magazine! The August issue of W-ton Mag is available to buy from local outlets now!
The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) held its annual conference at University College, London on 11 July 2017. Black Country Visual Arts cic won the ' The Best New Group' for the Apna Heritage Archive. The judges commented: “The Apna Heritage Archive run by Black Country Visual Arts (BCVA) is an outstanding example of collaboration capturing vitally important local heritage, in this case photographs and memorabilia on the migration of South Asian Punjabis to Wolverhampton from the 1960s to 1980s. The project has a strong educational element, including local schools (and the teaching of photography) and Wolverhampton University. We noted the involvement of a Gurdwara, the city council and others, as well as the supportive role of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It is great to see HLF becoming more involved in community archives, and we hope that this presages a more strategic approach to the sector.”
"BCVA are delighted to receive this recognition from colleagues in the archives and records sector. It is testament to the energy and commitment of everyone involved in the Apna Heritage Archive: members of the local community, our local partners and, of course, the support and help provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund."
The Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) Awards are organised, judged and presented by the Community Archives and Heritage Group, a special interest section of the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), the main professional body representing archivists, records managers and archive conservators in Britain and Ireland. For more on the ARA, see www.archives.org.uk
We have reached a milestone with our 1000th image archived on our digital database! Archiving is no small feat as it requires a lot of attention to detail in obtaining information from participants who allow us to scan their pictures. Our 1000th image pictured here is from our volunteer Salgram Dass, a powerful portrait of family of his father and mother Sarwan and Amro Dass and their first child sister Kanta. The image below tells a forgotten story of where many Punjabi migrants came to live in Wolverhampton from 1960s onwards. This photo was taken on Inkerman St, in the Heath Town area. The area is still synonymous for where new migrants live today. So we're glad we achieved a milestone, only 1000 more images to go! Phew!?
We were delighted to host the St Chad's Asian Women's group at the Apna Heritage Archive. We taxied them in from their community centre and response was good with a small number from around 20 ladies bringing images with them. We were delighted as they brought fantastic images from 1960s-80s perfect for the archive! There was a lot of positive comments as now that most had seen the archive for themselves were better to understand what we at Black Country Visual Arts CIC wanted to achieve for our archive funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. Further to this we had received an invite to go back to the group and talk with the ladies individually to gather even more photos! Special thanks to Mrs Suraksha Asar and Mrs Kanchan Jain leaders of the group for helping arrange the visit to our archive space.
We recently had a visit from the Mel Jool group from All Saints community centre. A majority of the group were away on their annual trips to India but we still had a strong interest and participation in our project. Mrs Bhatia had a carefully looked after archive of hundreds of images covering 3 decades from the Bilston area of Wolverhampton. She was keen to participate before also travelling to India! We also met Mrs Dhanjal a clay relief artist originally from India and now settled in Wolverhampton. Mrs Dhanjal has exhibited both here and abroad and is trully a very unique and talanted artirst.
We are proud to have a good number of images given to us by the generosity of Mr. Salgaram Dass for the Apna Heritage Archive. I met Mr Dass as he usually parks his car right outside my house to drop off of his children to a school here in Wolverhampton . As I get to know this very articulate and intelligent man he is instantly smitten with our work. Salgaram bought me negatives and then also learned skills and our protocols in scanning these amazing photos that depict the early years of life, living in Inkerman Street, Heath Town, Wolverhampton c 1960s. The vast majority of images here are taken by his father an ardent photographer. I restored and edited a few of these here and personally I find them nostalgic of a bygone age of innocence in the Black Country. Even more than that they are photographers dream and an amazing scoop for our archive in terms of telling the story of individuals and integration to life in Wolverhampton. There's more to come from this set of images we now have in our possession!
The Apna Heritage Archive is now starting to develop exciting themes through the collection of images. These will be an important part of our archive to reference images for research purposes and they also seemingly create a story of their own from within our collection circa 1960s-80s. In future we will be able to cross reference single word search items online, enjoy a couple of themes here ‘Bhaji on the Beach’ or ‘First Cars’. You can follow other themes available on a regular basis via our twitter handle @apna_heritage.
BCVA has started working with two new community groups from All Saints and Blakenhall on the Apna Heritage Archive project. We took along some of our archive prints to showcase the collection so far and introduced the project to the ladies. A keen interest was shown by both groups and we look forward to further visits and hopefully more photographs for the archive!
It was great to see the Humjoli Ladies Group visit the archive space at Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara in Blakenhall. They were really exited to see prints of some of the archived material and the display of items collected from participants. This was a great opportunity to see some of their own photographs and some of the group had even brought along more photographs to archive for the project. The collection of prints started to bring back memories and stories from the 60's and 70's and early migration to Wolverhampton.
It as been a pleasure working with new participants at Bilston Community Centre for the Apna Heritage Archive. The ladies have been digging out their old images for the archive, even storm Doris couldn't keep them away from their regular meeting last week. You can see above a group portrait we took after one of the yoga sessions. We look forward the meeting them soon and discovering more new archive material.
Another great meeting and discussion with the ladies at Humjoli. It was great to catch up with one of our project partners to encourage further participation and to talk to new members about heritage, archiving and how to get involved. We look forward to the groups visit to our archive space in the coming weeks.
We were honored to be invited to the the Sikh Survey launch at the University of Wolverhampton by Dr Opinderjit Takhar, head of Religious Studies at the University. It was a great opportunity to meet up with possible participants for the Apna Heritage Project. We had a very positive response from the visitors who very excited by the archive and how important it was for the town and region as a whole.
Year five pupils at St Luke's got to talk about their own personal archive bio and share their archive photograph with the school. There was a great deal of excitement as the pupils looked for their portraits as you can see in the image above. After reading out their own hand written information sheet they got to file away the information along with their photograph into the new St Luke's archive box. The children were really positive about the archive sessions and have enjoyed learning about our project and the importance of archive and heritage.
One again it was great to visit St Luke's for another workshop. The children put into practice what they have learnt so far about recording their own archive stories. BCVA took portraits of the year five pupils in national dress or home clothes whilst the children recorded information to go with the photographs. We look forward to going back next week to complete the archive with year five. A big thank you for St Luke's for make a great effort!
BCVA were invited by Wolverhampton City Archives to attend this years Local History Fair to share their ground breaking HLF funded Apna Heritage Archive project. The project is documenting Punjabi migration to Wolverhampton form 1960 to 1989 through the collection of photographs and ephemera. We had a great turnout and it was great to see such positive response from all members of the community for our project.