Gillian Wearing and Ikon Gallery search for A Real Birmingham Family at The Mailbox

By Sarah Jackson | 19 August 2013

Exhibition preview: A Real Birmingham Family, The Mailbox, Birmingham, until September 8 2013

Gillian Wearing, Family Monument (2007)
Gillian Wearing, Family Monument (2007)
For one Birmingham family, immortality could soon be within reach. A three-year search for a family to be the face of Birmingham is nearing completion.

A Real Birmingham Family is an ongoing project between local artist and Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing and Ikon Gallery, aiming to find and immortalise in bronze a "real" Birmingham family.

The project began in 2011 and 2012 when residents in Birmingham were urged to nominate their families. The constitution of a 21st century family can, of course, be much more complex than the stereotypical nuclear family, so the project placed no limit on how a family might define itself. Foster families, groups of friends and even individuals were all nominated.

The project intends to raise questions about civic identity and what it means to be a family today. By focusing on ordinary local people, it hopes to draw attention to unacknowledged parts of the community.

A shortlist of four families has been chosen from the hundreds of submissions received by a diverse panel of community, cultural and religious figures. These include former Aston Villa footballer Ian Taylor, Birmingham Post Editor Stacey Barnfield and the Chief Executive of the new Library of Birmingham, Brian Gambles.

The shortlisted families include two separate clans - living next door to each other but considering themselves one family - and two sisters: both single mothers who are supporting each other in bringing up their children.

Through short films, the finalists talk about their experiences of being from and living in Birmingham, as well as their identity as a family.

The panel will select an overall winner from the shortlist, to be announced before the end of the exhibition.

The final bronze sculpture will be placed in Centenary Square outside the new Library of Birmingham in 2014. A fundraising campaign has also been launched to raise the £100,000 needed to create the statue.

  • Find out more about the project here.

More pictures:

The Jones Family
The Jones Family© Ikon Gallery
The Hay/Wooldridge Family.
The Hay/Wooldridge Family© Ikon Gallery
The Clarke Family
The Clarke Family© Ikon Gallery
The Hancox/Treadwell Family.
The Hancox/Treadwell Family© Ikon Gallery
Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson.
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