Does This Statue Represent the Modern Family?

Gillian Wearing poses with the subjects of her statue A Real Birmingham Family Photo: Ikon Gallery

The Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing has unveiled a new statue entitled A Real Birmingham Family (2014) in Birmingham, England, the BBC reports.

The statue is the result of a four year project between Birmingham-born Wearing and the Ikon Gallery, a contemporary art space in the city. The project received hundreds of entries, but a panel of judges selected the sisters Roma and Emma Jones and their sons Kyan and Shaye to be the subjects of the artwork.

According to Ikon GalleryA Real Birmingham Family draws attention to the unsung, raising questions about civic identity and what it means to be a family today. No limits were placed on how the 21st century family might define itself.”

Wearing told the BBC that she wanted her statue to demonstrate that what “constitutes a family isn’t fixed.”

Emma Jones said “It’s amazing to be representing so many different kinds of family from Birmingham. I’m really happy with [the statue].”

However, some residents queried felt that the absence of a male father figure in the statue was not representative of a typical family. Speaking to the BBC Nigel Passey said “It only shows one part of a family—the man had to have been involved at one point.” His wife Angela added, “To me, that doesn’t portray a family as it should be.”


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