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.
The project draws attention to the unsung, raising questions about civic identity and what constitutes a family today. During 2011-12, families were encouraged to nominate themselves to be the face of Birmingham. No limits were placed on how the twenty-first family might define itself.
Ikon started the project with an exhibition at the Pallasades Shopping Centre (30 April – 12 June 2011) and utilised a mobile unit provided by Birmingham City Council to tour A Real Birmingham Family to different areas of the city. People were able to find out more about the project, have their photograph taken and nominate their family. Over 350 families took part.
The mobile unit went to locations including Sutton Coldfield, Northfield Carnival, Witton Lodge Community Centre, Christmas market in Victoria Square, Stirtchley Community Market, Birmingham Carnival at Handsworth Park, Yardley Fun Day at Queens Park, Centenary Celebration at Aston Hall and the parade in Sutton Coldfield. In addition the project was taken to Artsfest, HomeSense in The Fort Shopping Centre, and Ikon Gallery hosted a big Family Day in a bid to engage with as many families as possible.
During the nomination period Ikon exhibited a selection of family photographs at Mint Hotel (now Hilton Garden Inn Brindleyplace) (3 October — 21 November 2011) and at Café Ikon (now Café Opus at Ikon) (22 November 2011 – 5 February 2012).
Lastly, in the final weeks of the nomination period, Ikon took over a space at Central Library (19 March – 31 March 2012) to promote the project and encourage families to take part.
A Real Birmingham Family is supported by Birmingham City Council.