Queen Victoria statue art installation branded ‘woke trash’

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Transforming the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Square with an art installation which will not be removed until the end of the Commonwealth Games has been described as ‘desecration’ and ‘woke rubbish’. You can see Queen Victoria before and after installation in the video above to see if you’re okay.

The Birmingham Civic Society helped fund the statue’s restoration four years ago and today the chairman of its public art committee, Stephen Hartland, said that despite ‘regular meetings’ with the council Birmingham City Council on Public Art, he hadn’t heard of the installation until it was at the top. basement.

Workmen were putting the finishing touches on Saturday evening when the above video footage was taken – exactly a week after Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign culminated with a major concert at the exterior of Buckingham Palace.



The new art installation atop the Queen Victoria Pedestal in Victoria Square will remain there until August 15 – a week after the Commonwealth Games end

Commissioned by Ikon Gallery and Birmingham 2022 Festival, the installation is called ‘Foreign Exchange’ and is a temporary artwork by Guyanese-British artist Hew Lock showing Queen Victoria standing in a boat as ‘an object of reverence , at the head of a battalion of other statues”. to represent the native nation throughout the Empire.

Originally unveiled in 1901 just 12 days before the monarch’s death, Sir Thomas Brock’s marble figure of Queen Victoria was later recast in bronze by William Bloye and members of the Birmingham School of Art in 1951.

Read more:Festival organizers react after redesign of Queen Victoria statue marked with ‘woke trash’ and ‘desecration’

In May 2018, conservation specialists spent two weeks fully restoring the statue of Queen Victoria to its original glory. The work was partly funded by the Birmingham Civic Society

Ikon said the facility will remain in place until August 15. This means Commonwealth Games visitors will see a ‘temporary’ rather than ‘classic’ view of Birmingham’s Victoria Square lighthouse.

This will also be the case at £16million Centenary Square, where a giant new temporary building is currently being constructed above the dancing water fountains installed in 2019 as part of a water feature designed to provide a reflective and wide-angle view of neighbors. buildings including the Rep, the Library of Birmingham, Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory.

Locke has been reinventing historical statues for 20 years, his interest having been born during his childhood in Guyana where he came across a sculpture of Queen Victoria every day on the way to school.

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But Mr Hartland told BirminghamLive: “The statue is a memorial to Queen Victoria and not a Christmas tree to be dressed up with garish baubles or woke rubbish. It is outrageous and whoever allowed this to happen produce should resign.

“It was donated to the city by Sir William Henry Barber (1860-1927) in memory of his father. No memorial should be treated like this, certainly not for a monarch. I can see this as nothing but ‘disrespectful and ill-advised. This wouldn’t be allowed in a cemetery, so why in a town square?



The classic view of Queen Victoria's statue in Victoria Square that Commonwealth Games visitors won't see now
The classic view of the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Square that Commonwealth Games visitors won’t see now

“I am simply appalled. My public art committee had previously discussed another ‘skin proposal’ received by BCC and then informed them that it was disrespectful and that we could not support it. is much worse – this installation is a collision of two worlds that don’t need to collide.”

Mr Hartland added: “All public art is subjective and if they had put that next to the statue for a different perspective I could have figured that out, but that’s just plain wrong. In this country we seem now wanting to fight for things that happened hundreds of years ago that we weren’t a part of.”

Birmingham Civic Society colleague Glyn Pitchford, chairman of the Birmingham Big Art Project, added: “In relation to this desecration of the Queen Victoria Memorial, are we all wasting our time on the art sub-committee BCS public if the city thinks it can ignore seeking input from well-qualified experts in our group that oversees public art in Birmingham?That is disrespectful, given our work, which is entirely voluntary .”



Birmingham's Queen Victoria statue is temporarily turned into an art installation
Birmingham’s Queen Victoria statue is temporarily turned into an art installation

Birmingham Museums Trust is handling the artwork on behalf of Birmingham City Council, which said the installation had gone through the “usual planning process” and referred any requests for further comment to Birmingham Festival 2022.

Ikon said the installation was “generously supported” by Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Henry Moore Foundation and the Ikon Investment Fund.

BirminghamLive understands that the Festival is issuing an ’embargoed press release’ containing comments from self-described Cllr Jayne Francis (Lab, Harborne), BCC Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism on Twitter as a ‘feminist and proud mom of a feminist daughter’.

During the Games, Victoria Square will also be transformed by a new temporary art commission from Birmingham-based designer Anjuli McKenna called ‘Connection’s’, which will reflect ‘how Birmingham’s diverse communities meet and connect with each other across the city. “.



Dressing Queen Victoria statue by Hew Locke in Birmingham for temporary art installation
Dressing Queen Victoria statue by Hew Locke in Birmingham for temporary art installation

Artist’s view

Locke’s press officer in London said the project aimed to bring “a diverse social and historical focus to an often overlooked Birmingham heritage asset”.

The work has been described as his “first temporary public sculpture and a natural progression from many years of exploring the symbolic power of public monuments”.

He sought to create “an object of reverence, leading a battalion of other statues to represent the nation of origin throughout the Empire”.



Centenary Square was rebuilt from 2017 to 2019 with a giant shallow pool designed to mirror the nearby buildings, but during the Commonwealth Games it will house this temporary structure which will be both a store and a studio for the BBC.
Centenary Square was rebuilt from 2017 to 2019 with a giant shallow pool designed to mirror the nearby buildings, but during the Commonwealth Games it will house this temporary structure which will be both a store and a studio for the BBC.

When the statue was restored in May 2018, Rob Lewis, Head of Collections Care at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: ‘Public art connects the city’s past to its present, and the statue of Queen Victoria is a significant piece of Birmingham art that stands proudly in one of the busiest parts of the city.

“The conservation plans are part of the Civic Society’s centennial celebrations so the statue can continue to play an important role in the city’s history.”

The Birmingham 2022 Festival is a £12million “celebration of creativity across the West Midlands” with events taking place from March to September as part of the wider impact of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ( July 28 – August 8).

Birmingham 2022 said the £12million was “raised independently by an in-house team. Major support has come from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund”.

Martin Green, Creative Director at Birmingham Festival 2022 said in November: “The fantastic support from our partners and funders has enabled the Birmingham 2022 Festival to become the most ambitious cultural festival ever linked to a Commonwealth Games, enlivening the city and the wider region with a celebration of creativity across the West Midlands.



The classic view of Queen Victoria outside the Council House that visitors to the Commonwealth Games will now not see
The classic view of Queen Victoria outside the Council House that visitors to the Commonwealth Games will now not see

Other Festival events this month (June) will include the Birmingham International Dance Festival (BIDF), which runs from June 17 to July 3.

A multi-genre concept album titled On Record will be released on June 17 featuring 11 new tracks from artists including UB40, Dapz on the Map and Bambi Bains.

Fierce will continue its 25th anniversary celebrations with Healing Gardens of Bab, to “champion queer culture and stories through performances, artwork and events featuring queer artists and collectives from across the Commonwealth.

Look:We went to a secret preview of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony – here’s how it went

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