Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Other Birmingham: Iron Men

Fiona contacted me from Birmingham UK with a series of posts contrasting the two Birminghams. She visited our Birmingham and saw many similarities with her own, and wrote a fascinating series of posts on them. She has kindly offered for some of them to be reprinted here - I'm sure you'll find them as intriguing as I did!

By Fiona Cullinan

Iron: Man, Birmingham, UK

Yes, that’s Iron [colon] Man. Though the locals just call it The Iron Man. This tilted 1993 sculpture by Turner Prizewinner Antony Gormley lives in Victoria Square, home of Brum’s Town Hall, Council House and the Floozie in the Jacuzzi (more on that in a later post). It’s 6m-tall with it’s feet buried in the pavement and leans 7.5° backwards and 5° to its left. Why? Who knows. That’s art for you. But it was cast with more than a nod to Birmingham industrial heritage and forging skills. A lot of people don’t like it apparently – it’s ‘controversial’. Me, I think it’s probably the most interesting thing in the square - apart from the random concrete balls, that is. (Picture: Amanda Slater)

Vulcan, Birmingham AL

Just a teensy-weensy bit larger is Bham’s Vulcan, also referred to as the Iron Man. Vulcan is the world’s largest cast-iron statue at 17m tall - the circumference of his waist matches the height of Brum’s statue – and is located in its own 10-acre park complete with visitor’s centre. It has long been an iconic symbol of Birmingham, and is set on a 37m pedestal tower on Red Mountain, which overlooks the city… [cont.]

Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti had it cast from local iron in 1904 and it’s been in its elevated home since 1939. Why Vulcan? He was the Roman god of the Forge, also nodding to Bham’s industrial iron and steel past.

Thanks to Daniel, who was my local host and guide for my 24 hours in Birmingham AL, I not only got to see Vulcan close up but he treated me to a ticket to ride inside the Nasa-style elevator tower to the top. A dizzying experience as you can see from my painted smile and set of white knuckles below. (Pictures: Fiona Cullinan)


j said...

I like the idea of contrasting the two Birminghams. Your Iron Man is quite interesting and appears to be fully covered (a plus).

Vulcan was so much a part of my childhood and teen years. It was always a treat to visit the statue, whether I was a little girl with my mother or a teenager on a date.

I'm so glad you liked our Iron Man.

FionaC said...

Thanks Jennifer. It's been quite fascinating to twin our cities, though I'm very aware I only got to spend 24 hours in your Birmingham.

I think someone over there needs to come over here for an exchange visit.

Yes, that's an invitation...

Wade Kwon said...

Kudos to Fiona for her blog and for stopping by to visit (I was one of the lucky ones who get to meet her in person).

If you haven't linked up and introduced yourself yet, be sure to go here to do so!