EVENT23.09.2011 / 8.00am5.00pm

A Real Birmingham Family

Gillian Wearing


A Real Birmingham Family was Ikon’s four-year project with Birmingham-born, Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing: a quest to find a ‘real’ Birmingham family and immortalise it in bronze. The sculpture was unveiled on Thursday 30 October 2014 in Centenary Square, outside the Library of Birmingham.

The project draws attention to the unsung, raising questions about civic identity and what constitutes a family today. During 2011/12, residents were urged to nominate their families to be the face of Birmingham. Ikon toured to many different locations within the city and over 350 families responded. No limits were placed on how the twenty-first century family might define itself and nominations included groups of friends, extended families and people living alone.

In 2013 a diverse panel of community, cultural and religious figures chose a shortlist of four – the Clarke family, the Hancox/Treadwell family, the Hay/Wooldridge family and the Jones family – following discussions on what constitutes a Birmingham family: multiple generations, friendship and diversity as well as evidential links to the city. These families formed the core of an exhibition presented in the BBC Birmingham Public Space at The Mailbox in summer  2013.

In August 2013, live on BBC Midlands Today, the Jones family, consisting of two sisters, Roma and Emma, both single parents, and their two sons Kyan and Shaye, was announced as the selected family.

We feel truly amazed and honoured to be chosen to represent what it means to be a family in Birmingham. We feel it highlights that family is an indestructible bond between people that is universal and it doesn’t matter how it is made or what it looks like.  The Jones family

A Real Birmingham Family was funded by Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and Ikon’s Friends of the Family.

Friends of the Family – Adrian Bland and family; Associated Architects; John Crabtree; Jean Denning; Candida Gertler; Antony and Vicken Gormley; Mark Hodgkins; Glenn Howells; David and Mary Lodge; Maverick TV; Paul Needham; Tim Oldham; David and Ethne Owen; Maureen Paley; Stephen Pallister; Midge Skene; Richard Verdi; Jonathan Watkins.



Event Date

This event has passed
Image Credits
2. The Jones Family Photo: Jas Sansi 2013


Document Name
Gillian Wearing Limited Edition Poster
301.6 kB


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Gillian Wearing
Family History
These two new films by Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing were screened as part of an installation inside an apartment in Birmingham’s city centre. Inspired by her long-standing interest in the seminal BBC series The Family, the first reality TV show, Wearing reflects on her own childhood as well as the representation of Heather Wilkins, the outspoken teenager who appeared in the programme.
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Gillian Wearing
A Real Birmingham Family: nominations
A Real Birmingham Family is Ikon’s ongoing project with Birmingham-born, Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing: a quest to find a ‘real’ Birmingham family and immortalise it in bronze. The sculpture will be located in Centenary Square outside the new Library of Birmingham in 2014.
See more
Gillian Wearing
A Real Birmingham Family: BBC Birmingham
BBC Birmingham, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1AY

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