The final literary countdown

In less than a months time, 27 days today, the new Library of Birmingham will open and it's an exciting race to the finish line with a mix of finishing touches being completed ahead of the opening.  With less than a month to go, both Centenary Square is seeing finishing touches while the move of books, papers and archives will be completed at the end of this week,

It's addition to the heart of the city's civic space in Centenary Square will from next year be joined by a new piece of artwork fronting the library.  The three year project by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing to create a £100,000 bronze statue of a Birmingham family aims to immortalise a real Birmingham family.  From 370 nominations the judging panel will now decide which of the four families below best represents a Birmingham family.

  • The Clarke family: Mother Michelle is half Indian and stepfather Kevin is Irish. They have three daughters, Leanne, Billie and Kerry. Kerry has one son and is expecting a second child.
  • The Hay and Wooldridge family: Rachel and her partner, Richard Hay, have a daughter, Kaeliea Hay.
  • The Hancox and Treadwell family: Tonya and her husband, Craig Hancox, have three children, Nethaniel, Anna-Zara and Emily. Nichala Treadwell and her husband, Mark, also have three children, Benjamin, Chloe and Callum.
  • The Jones family: Roma lives with her son, Kyan Ishaan Jones. The family also includes Roma's sister, Emma, and her son, Shaye Jones-Amin.

The addition of the sculpture will add an interesting contrast to the golden statue of the Murdoch, Watt and Boulton, known as the Golden Boys, on Broad Street standing opposite the new library,  The recent report on the project on BBC Midlands Today saw a commentator from the IKON gallery, who are supporting the project, note the contrast as one between the Golden Boys who led Birmingham and brought forward the modern world in industrial development and the new diverse city that shapes its future in diversity, creativity and modern future.

The statue should provide another interesting addition of public art to the city and will like the library it will sit in front of provide a topic of conversation as the city continues it's motto of Forward.

As well as a testament to the city's past with the ability to showcase it's archives the new library will lead the city into the future with the plaza fronting the new library providing free wifi as part of a city wide rollout by Virgin Media of free wifi in key public spaces in the city centre,  The free wifi will make use of small cells, a UK first, and initially start with the plaza fronting the new library together with Victoria Square, Moor Street, New Street, High Street and St Philips Cathedral.

The way small cells work is by connecting into a fibre network, then being attached to street furniture, such as lamp posts, to broaden the reach of their frequencies. They can then mesh with other installed small cells, boosting signals for any mobile networks that choose to link to them.

“This is a first with small cells in the UK,” adds McKay. “They have been used successfully in the US, so I am not concerned that the technology is an issue. Instead it is exciting for Birmingham, taking our infrastructure and marrying that with proven international technology not yet used in the UK, all to the benefit our residents.”

The following pictures were taken at a recent stay at the Hyatt Hotel which offers stunning views across the city as well as while passing the new library.  The night time display, showing the library lit up, offers a tantalising glimpse into how the library will literally be a beacon for the city but the lights as shown in the pictures show only testing and we will have to wait to see how the new library will be lit up for it's grand opening.

2 August 

3 August

4 August

The opening of the library will see a flurry of events and activities to welcome it's role as much loved civic and cultural heart of the city as the city also celebrates 10 years since the Bullring opened.
From September 6 - 8 the 4 squares weekend will see arts events and live performances as city arts organisations join together to welcome the new library.

The fifteen year old Birmingham Book Festival will be relaunched as the Birmingham Literature Festival, running from October 3- 12 and will include events including Will Self and Germaine Greer and make use of the new library as a backdrop for it's events. 

This year’s audiences can expect events housed in some of the city’s most interesting venues including Birmingham Cathedral, Ikon Gallery and the new library.

Headline events will include UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, writers Lionel Shriver, Will Self, Catherine O’Flynn, Jonathan Coe and Germaine Greer.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, will deliver a specially commissioned lecture and Benjamin Zephaniah will give an ‘urban sermon’ about multiculturalism.

In addition the first UK Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, will host poetry sharing events and an evening with literary friends will be curated by broadcaster Stuart Maconie.

Heart FM presenter and keen creative writer Rachel New will be attempting to draft a novel live throughout the entire festival.


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