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Foreign Exchange,  Photos this page by Stuart Whipps    

Foreign Exchange  
2022,   728 x 435 x  682 cm
Resin, fibreglass and steel frame around pre-existing bronze statue
About Statues, Public Artwork

This temporary artwork was  erected in Birmingjham, UK's central Victora  Square to co-incide with the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival and commissioned by Ikon Gallery, it wrapped around the existing Queen Victoria statue by Sir Thomas Brock’ and William Bloyle.   Depicting a boat carrying five smaller replica statues of Queen Victoria, each figure wears a helmet, reminiscent of that worn by Britannia. Each of the Victorias carries a replica of a medal relating to an important battle in the formation of the British Empire. They are the Second Afghan War medal 1880, the East and West Africa medal 1887, the Ashanti Campaign medal 1901, the Serangapatam battle medal and a medal to commemorate the centenary of the capture of Trinidad and Tobago by the British in 1797.. Exploring the symbolic power of public monuments, Locke’s vision is to create “an iconic image, leading a cohort of other statues to represent the home nation throughout the Empire”.

During the height of Empire, statues of Victoria were shipped across the Empire, following a similar pattern or image of her as an aged mother of Empire - sometimes indeed actual replicas of existing statues. Fifty alone were scattered across India.  Locke  pased one everyday on his way to school as a student in Guyana.  British culture is a result of centuries of foreign exchanges, including across the former Empire. In this work, Locke was keen to make something that was relevant to all the people of Birmingham, and to people visiting the city for the Games. Representations of Victoria are scattered across the UK, and also existed in every country represented by athletes at the Commonwealth Games, enabling them to engage directly with the artwork.

Click here to see a short film about Foreign Exchange

All images © Hew Locke & ArtImage unless otherwise indicated