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Sculpture celebrating women who wear hijab to be installed

Sculpture celebrating women who wear hijab to be installed

A new sculpture believed to be the first of its kind in the world will be unveiled next month to celebrate women who wear hijabs.

The Strength of the Hijab was designed by renowned sculptor Luke Perry and will be installed in the Smethwick area of Birmingham in October.

It is believed to be the first sculpture in the world of a woman wearing the head covering, worn by many Muslim women.

The sculpture is five metres tall and weighs around a tonne.

Mr Perry said: “The Strength of the Hijab is a piece which represents women who wear hijabs of the Islamic faith, and it’s really there because it’s such an underrepresented part of our community, but such an important one.

“They need visibility, it’s so important, so working with the community to come up with the designs has been really exciting because we didn’t know what it was going to look like until now.

“The location of where it’s going is Smethwick, [where] there’s a humongous part of the community that is from the Islamic faith.

“They wear the hijab as part of their community, and it is really underrepresented.

Mr Perry's work is five metres tall and weighs almost a tonne (Phil Barnett/PA)
Mr Perry’s work is five metres tall and weighs almost a tonne (Phil Barnett/PA)

“It’s something which people feel very strongly about, identify with, [and] they feel happy about and comfortable with.

“But it’s not something which is regularly seen, especially on public art, let alone in a heroic narrative, so this is something that celebrates people who are very much under-celebrated.”

Mr Perry has previously designed the Black British History is British History sculpture, alongside Canaan Brown, which was installed in nearby Winson Green in May.

That piece was defaced shortly after it was installed, but while Mr Perry acknowledged the new sculpture could be “controversial”, he said it was important to represent everyone who lived in the UK.

He said: “There’s a possibility that this piece could be controversial for many different reasons.

“I don’t feel like any of them are valid, but people do, there are a lot of people who object to the differences that we have in our communities, and would like them to be more divided.

“But the future of our country is about what unites us, not what pulls us apart, which is why it’s important to have representation across the whole of the UK, of everybody that lives here.

“The reaction has been really, really positive.

“People have seen some photos, but they haven’t actually seen the sculpture in person.

“I think people are really impressed by the size, certainly, but the level of detail, I think has surprised people too, and that’s really satisfying.

“I think it’s going to be a loved part of the community.”

The sculpture, commissioned by the Legacy West Midlands charity, is made of steel which will be galvanised before its completion.