Queen Victoria is all over the sea – as the famous statue of the former monarch is getting a makeover for the Commonwealth Games. The statue has been “dressed up” with an art installation as part of a cultural festival to tie in with the sport.
Renowned Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke, who has previously exhibited at the city’s Ikon Gallery, is behind the new look of the Victoria Square statue. It officially kicks off on Tuesday, June 14.
The statue is accompanied by mini versions in a large wooden boat as they sail abroad. Artist Locke, 62, has called Queen Victoria’s transformation “Foreign Exchange.” He has said it’s a “re-imagining” in an Instagram post.
READ MORE: Famous statue of Queen Victoria in Birmingham gets ‘dressed up’ by artist
The temporary art installation is just a temporary measure as part of the festival running alongside the international sporting event this summer. It is intended to provoke ideas and discussion about what viewers feel it is saying to them.
Cultural Festival organizers previously explained that Foreign Exchange is part of a massive six-month program of more than 200 performances, events and projects that all consider our place in the Commonwealth.
“As an artist, Hew Locke has been rediscovering historic statues for 20 years,” said a festival spokesperson. “His interest in the power of images has its roots in his childhood in Guyana, where he passed a statue of Queen Victoria every day on his way to school.
“Foreign Exchange will be his first temporary public sculpture and a natural continuation of many years of research and exploration into the symbolic power of public monuments.”
The statue’s unveiling coincided with the Floozie in the Jacuzzi fountain returning to its former glory this weekend. Water has returned to the iconic landmark in Victoria Square after a vandal halted its reopening last month.
Locke has an affinity for Birmingham as he chose Ikon Gallery to display a large selection of his work in the Here’s the Thing exhibition in 2019.
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