A Real Birmingham Family

The Project

A Real Birmingham Family is 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 will be located in Centenary Square outside the new Library of Birmingham in 2014.

Ikon started the project at the Pallasades Shopping Centre in April 2011, and toured to many different locations within the city over the next year. A 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 twenty-first century family might define itself.

From the many hundreds of self-nominated families, a shortlist of four was chosen by a diverse panel of community, cultural and religious figures. Each family is distinct, from an extended family of neighbours to single parents, representing a diverse range of social and cultural backgrounds. These families were the core of an exhibition presented in the BBC Birmingham Public Space at The Mailbox during summer 2013. In short films the families talk about being from and living in Birmingham, and their identity as a family.

From this shortlist the panel chose the Jones family as A Real Birmingham Family

A Real Birmingham Family is supported by Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and the Friends of the Family

Family Monument (2007) Bronze sculpture Gillian Wearing. The Typical Trentino Family of 2007 (2007). Bronze sculpture.

The Family

From hundreds of participants, one family has now been selected to be the model for the new public sculpture. The Jones family consist of two sisters, Roma and Emma, both single parents, and their two sons Kyan and Shaye. The selection panel was greatly impressed both by their commitment to Birmingham and the evolving nature of the concept of 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 up or what it looks like.” The Jones Family

In Spring 2014 the process of making the sculpture began. It will be unveiled in Centenary Square outside the new Library of Birmingham in Autumn 2014.

Ikon needs to raise £100,000 to fund Gillian Wearing’s bronze sculpture, please support us by making a donation.

The Jones Family The Jones Family

The Shortlisted Families

From over 370 families who nominated themselves to be the subject of Gillian Wearing’s new sculpture A Real Birmingham Family, four families were shortlisted.

The Jones family has now been announced as the chosen family.

The Clarke family

This is my family! We can talk about anything together. We are very open, down to earth and we enjoy each other’s company. My mother is half Indian, my stepdad is Irish and my son is a perfect mix.

The Clarke family The Clarke family

The Hancox / Treadwell family

We are two separate families who lived next door to one another for six years. Our children go to school together and are all quite close in age. We rely on each other a lot when we need to – for example babysitting and taking and collecting kids from school. We are all very close and feel like one big family.

The Hancox / Treadwell family The Hancox / Treadwell family

The Hay / Wooldridge family

We are two parents who have grown up in and around Birmingham, one black, one white, who met in Birmingham and who now have a beautiful mixed race daughter as the ultimate expression of our love for one another.

The Hay / Wooldridge family The Hay / Wooldridge family

The Jones family

Our family is made up of two sisters who are single parents that support each other and play a major part in each other’s life. We have lived in Birmingham all of our lives, in many different areas across the city. Being mixed race we feel at home here as it’s so diverse and multicultural and as a result we believe the mixed race population in Brum will only increase.

The Jones family The Jones family

The Selection Panel

Our selection panel is a diverse mix of community, cultural and religious figures who arrived at the shortlist following a discussion on what makes a family: multiple generations, friendships, diversity as well as strong connections to Birmingham.

  • Stacey Barnfield, Editor, Birmingham Post
  • Micaela Boas, Outset Family
  • Brian Gambles, Chief Executive, Library of Birmingham Development Trust
  • Jonathan Gurling, Executive Secretary, Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group
  • Ian Taylor, Club Ambassador, Aston Villa Football Club
  • Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon
  • Gillian Wearing, Artist
  • Dr. Elizabeth Yardley, School of Social Sciences, Birmingham City University
  • Polly Welsby, Ikon Youth Programme

Support A Real Birmingham Family

We need to raise £100,000 to fund Gillian Wearing’s bronze sculpture of the chosen family, and can only do this with your help. Any donation welcome.

This is an exciting time for Ikon. For a limited period from now, every donation we receive will be doubled through the Arts Council England Catalyst Scheme. For example, this means a donation of £5 from you will be worth £10 to Ikon.

In addition, those who donate £250 or more will automatically become a Friend of the Family to be acknowledged in a published list of supporters.

To make a donation:
Visit: www.ikon-gallery.org/support/ikon-appeal/
Text: IKON14 £5 to 70070
Call: 0121 248 0708

Family Album


Ikon is an internationally acclaimed contemporary art venue situated in central Birmingham, just 15 minutes walk from New Street Station. Ikon’s exhibitions show work by artists from around the world in a variety of media.


Ikon Gallery
1 Oozells Square
Birmingham B1 2HS
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am–6pm – free entry
0121 248 0708 / www.ikon-gallery.org

Ikon Gallery Limited trading as Ikon.
Registered charity no. 528892
Ikon is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.

If you are having problems with this website please contact Ikon on 0121 248 0708 or email arealbirminghamfamily@ikon-gallery.co.uk

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