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Looty Goes to Heaven: Publication Launch and Talk

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Looty Goes to Heaven reimagines Looty’s story in the context of Birmingham, where Crufts – the largest dog show in the world – is currently situated. Looty, a small Pekingese dog, was taken from China to England during the looting of the Second Opium War and was gifted to Queen Victoria. Looty was one of the first Pekingese dogs to arrive in England, sparking a great interest in the breed.

Amy Ching-Yan Lam’s project consists of an animation of Looty, a book of speculative fiction about Looty’s life, and a poppy meadow. The meadow, to be planted after the Commonwealth Games end, is a legacy project that will feature varieties of papaver somniferum (opium poppy), alongside a wildflower meadow. A small version of this meadow will grow this summer at the Digbeth Community Garden.

The launch will take place at Digbeth Community Garden, Shaw’s Passage, B5 5PG. Amy will read from the book, which tells the story of Looty confronting her afterlife at the gate to heaven. She will also be in conversation with Dr Sarah Cheang, a historian of Chinese dogs and material culture, to talk about the history of Pekingese dogs in England.

Pekingese dogs and their owners will also be present (and welcome)!

In the event of rain, this event will take place at Eastside Projects.


Amy Ching-Yan Lam is an artist and writer. She has exhibited conceptual, film, and performance works internationally, both solo and as part of the collective Life of a Craphead. Her work approaches histories, personal and communal, via intuition and necessity. Lam will have a major solo exhibition at the Richmond Art Gallery, Canada, in 2023. Her poetry chapbook titled The Four Onions was published by yolkless press (2021) and her first full-length collection is forthcoming with Brick Books in 2023. She lives in Toronto (Canada), which is Mississauga Anishinaabeg territory. Lam was born in Hong Kong, which became a British colony as a result of the Opium Wars.

Dr Sarah Cheang is Head of Programme for History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London. She has a special research interest in fashion, bodies and Chinese things in British culture. Alongside histories of Chinese ceramics, garments, embroideries, wallpapers and carpets in the UK, this has led her to delve into the more unusual stories of Chinese hairstyles, Chinese pianos, and most definitely the British Pekingese dog.


For Birmingham 2022 festival