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Queen Victoria rules the waves as city statue is 'reimagined' for Commonwealth Games

A notable city-centre sculpture of Queen Victoria has been re-imagined as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Hew Locke and students from the Small Heath Leadership Academy at the launch of his reimagined sculpture of Queen Victoria in Birmingham's city-centre
Hew Locke and students from the Small Heath Leadership Academy at the launch of his reimagined sculpture of Queen Victoria in Birmingham's city-centre

The sculpture of Queen Victoria, which stands at the edge of Victoria Square in the centre of Birmingham opposite the Town Hall, has been given a new look by acclaimed Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke as part of the cultural programme of the Commonwealth Games.

Originally unveiled in 1901, Sir Thomas Brock’s marble figure of Queen Victoria was then recast in bronze by William Bloye and members of Birmingham School of Art in 1951.

The "Foreign Exchange" work sees the statue become the captain of a ship, with the Queen joined by four other statues representing parts of the British Empire, which later became the Commonwealth.

The work, which was supported by Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Henry Moore Foundation and the Ikon Investment Fund, comes from Mr Locke's vision to create "an object of veneration, leading a battalion of other statues to represent the home nation throughout the Empire".

He said that his interest in the power of statues originates from his childhood in Guyana where he passed a sculpture of Queen Victoria every day on the way to school. He has been re-imagining historical statues for twenty years.

Commissioned by Ikon, this is his first temporary public sculpture and will stay on display throughout the Commonwealth Games alongside the festival site, an area of entertainment, food and drink and a place to meet during the Games in the city centre.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival will run throughout the Commonwealth Games, providing a wide range of art and exhibitions, and will continue following the Games until November 5.

To find out more, go to birmingham2022.com/festival

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