(Pictured left to right: Mike Hopkins (College principal), Marianne Coward (Governor) Cllr Maureen Cornish JP (Lord Mayor of Birmingham), Jordan Barber (Art & Design student), Jennifer Slater (Art & Design tutor) and Alex Stephenson (Governor)
On 21st November 2022, an art and engineering sculpture was unveiled at South & City College Birmingham’s Longbridge campus foyer by The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Maureen Cornish JP, the college principal, Mike Hopkins MBE and Jordan Barber, former art & design student who designed the winning sculpture. The sculpture captured the history of car manufacturing within the area of Longbridge, which was the main concept behind the creation.
This project began as a casual discussion in the staff car park between Jennifer Slater, Art & Design tutor and an engineering tutor. They thought it would be great to do a project together as art and engineering are subjects that appear to be so far apart and they wanted to make something that seemed impossible, possible.
Art students were given a brief and advised to create a sculpture that would represent the past, present, or future (or all three) of the Longbridge site.
Jennifer Slater, Art & Design tutor said: ‘’We wanted to represent the site and we discussed how in a few years we are planning to bring back the old MG and the old cars and represent the past again. We wanted to kick-start that with this project.’’
After much deliberation between staff and Mike Hopkins, Jordan Barber’s design was chosen.
Jordan, a former Level 2 art & design student explained the concept behind his design, saying: ‘’What inspired me was the ruins and what is left of the former factory, and I wanted to try and remind people of the past of what we once had as a country and as a nation. Also, what we could look forward to in the future of moving on. Probably not with the car manufacturing side but the creative side of things.’’
During Mike Hopkins’ speech at the unveiling, he reflected on the history of Longbridge and his recent findings, saying: ‘’What was the most amazing thing to me is we’ve got a state-of-the-art engineering centre downstairs and right on the site of where the number one engineering shop was, which wasn’t planned.’’
It is amazing to know that the history of car manufacturing and engineering is still embedded and reflected in the Longbridge campus, keeping the history well and truly alive.
The Mayor gave a captivating speech with it ending with an important message for everyone, ‘’ Do not walk away from an opportunity or a challenge.’’
South & City College would like to thank the mayor for attending this marvellous occasion and congratulate Jordan Barber for his winning design. A big thank you to the engineering students who helped bring the design to life and most importantly, Jennifer Slater for making this project happen, giving the students the opportunity to collaborate and gain experience that they can cherish for life.