They’re pub signs – but not as you know them.
The world’s first Punjabi pub signs will be hung at seven Desi pubs across the Black Country this month.
The signs are part of a project to commemorate the visit to Smethwick 50 years ago by American civil rights campaigner Malcolm X.
Red Lion – or Lal Sher – West Bromwich
He was there to help highlight and fight the prejudice faced by local black and Asian people, including their exclusion from some pubs.
Creative Black Country commissioned artists and Desi pub landlords in the Black Country over the past year to produce work that tells the stories of migration from the Punjab to the region.
The Sportsman – or Kalahri – West Bromwich
As part of the project, the group enlisted Smethwick-born visual artist Hardeep Pandhal to create the images for the signs, which were then given to specialist pub sign painter Andrew Grundon to produce.
Red Cow – or Gau Wallah – Smethwick
Asian landlords have been salvaging the struggling pub trade in the area for decades by reinventing failed pubs for new communities and as a result redefining British pub culture.
It’s an East meets West story, where the classic English pub with its ales, darts and dominos meets Punjabi food and Bhangra and now they will be easy to recognise.
“The handcrafted pub signs are not only works of contemporary art but they are bold landmarks that unify the pubs and narrate this remarkable story,” said Creative Black Country’s artistic director Parminder Dosanjh.
Prince of Wales – or Tekha Sharaab Desi – West Bromwich
The Black Country is uniquely populated with around 50 successful Asian run pubs which serve traditional curries.
The pubs have their own signature dishes that attract punters from all over the region.
Desi pubs have been popping up since the 70s, initially frequented by mostly Asian men working in the foundries.