Gillian Wearing to immortalise a real family in bronze

Reviewed,Chris Beanland
Friday 19 August 2011 00:00 BST

The only thing that really matters in life, it is often said, is your family. Yet how many statues do we see depicting devoted partners and adored kids alongside the heroic and famous? Not many. But Gillian Wearing is trying to change that.

The Turner Prize-winning artist is on the hunt for a real family to be immortalised in bronze. Their statue will be installed in the new Library of Birmingham, which is under construction next to the city's Repertory Theatre.

"The idea came from a family-monument project in Trento in 2008," Birmingham-born Wearing says. "I thought about doing another monument based in Birmingham, but with a different emphasis which celebrates the city's diversity."

Families living in Brum can nominate themselves online, with the eventual winners chosen by a panel headed by Wearing and Jonathan Watkins, director of Birmingham's Ikon Gallery. Watkins explains: "Instead of historical heroes being immortalised, here we are celebrating what is remarkable about every inhabitant of the city."

So what makes a family for the artist? "According to statisticians a family can be one person. I'm hoping that all sorts of families apply," says Wearing.

But what happens if this very modern family then gets divorced? Melt Dad down? "The work is a snapshot," says Watkins. "If the family is based on a married couple, in the sculpture at least, they will be married forever."

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