World War commemoration in Chamberlain Square

A snapshot of the 5000 ice sculptures laid on the steps in Chamberlain Square

A snapshot of the 5000 ice sculptures laid on the steps in Chamberlain Square

On Saturday 2nd August, led by the Lord Mayor Councillor Shafique Shah, Birmingham began its commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.

Hundreds of people placed 5000 ice sculptures on the steps in Chamberlain Square as part of Brazilian sculptor’s Nele Azevedo Minimum Monument, a remembrance of those men and women who died in the First World War.

The Lord Mayor placed the first sculpture on the steps at 1.00pm followed by people from all over the world, who had come to watch and participate; within an hour the steps in front of the old library were full of the poignant figures.

Pauline Roche in Chamberlain Square

Pauline Roche in Chamberlain Square

The sculptures were made over the previous two weeks by a team of 20 volunteer working under the supervision of Azevedo, Placing water in moulds made from recycled bottles, being frozen, turned out, carefully wrapped in a plastic bag and put back in a freezer. The 10 chest freezers were brought to Chamberlain Square early on Saturday morning

Artist Nele Azevedo’s previous work included a memorial to the Titanic where 1,517 figures were placed on the steps of the Custom House Square in Belfast the City where the ship was built.

The Minimum Monument was devised by Birmingham Hippodrome; using Azevedo’s work was the idea of the Hippodrome’s creative programme manager, Sarah Allen, who had come across her work on the internet and was impressed by it.

 Two of the ice sculptures were draped with a tricolour by Pauline Roche and Ted Ryan


Two of the ice sculptures were draped with a tricolour by Pauline Roche and Ted Ryan

Two figures were placed on the steps by Pauline Roche and Ted Ryan, they draped each figure with a tricolour scarf in memory of the Irish that died fighting in the conflict.

Two hours later all that remained were wet steps and two folded tricolours.

Azevedo claims to use her work to remember those with no permanent memorial, an appropriate event therefore given the lack of acknowledgement of Irish participation and sacrifice in ‘the war to end all wars’ that started 100 years ago this month.