A Real Birmingham Family

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1280px-A Real Birmingham Family.jpeg

A Real Birmingham Family is a public artwork and sculpture by Gillian Wearing, cast in bronze, and erected in Centenary Square, outside the Library of Birmingham, England, on 30 October 2014.[1]

It depicts two local sisters, each a single mother, with their two children. One of the mothers is depicted as pregnant with a second son who was born before the sculpture was unveiled.[2] The people depicted are Roma and Emma Jones with their sons Kyle and Shaye respectively. Emma was pregnant with Issac at the time.

The lack of any adult males in A Real Birmingham Family was noted by MRAs and others soon after the unveiling.

In a process begun in 2011, and coordinated by the city's Ikon Gallery, nominations for a real local family to model for the sculpture were invited. The Jones' were selected from a shortlist, by an independent panel, in August 2013.[3]

Wearing said:

'I really liked how Roma and Emma Jones spoke of their closeness as sisters and how they supported each other. It seemed a very strong bond, one of friendship and family, and the sculpture puts across that connectedness between them. A nuclear family is one reality but it is one of many and this work celebrates the idea that what constitutes a family should not be fixed. [4]

The £100,000 cost of the work was covered by a combination of public money and private donations. The casting was carried out in China. The project follows Wearing's 2008 work, A Typical Trentino Family.

In November 2014 shortly after being unveiled, New Fathers 4 Justice activist Bobby Smith covered the statue with a white sheet and pictures of his two daughters. Smith commented:

"They’ve depicted the normal family with no fathers... I believe kids are always better off with both parents in their lives." [5] [6] [7]

The statue went into storage in May 2017, ostensibly to allow work for the redevelopment of Centenary Square to begin.[8] It is unclear if the statue remains in storage.

References