A new statue known as the Rhinestone Rhino has been unveiled this morning in the heart of Birmingham’s gay village.
The sculpture is of a life size rhinoceros which has been covered in what, at first glance, appears to be large gems. The ‘jewels’ themselveswere created with a mixture of mirrorwork and replica gemstones to create the crystaline effect. The project is the result of a collaboration between Birmingham City Council, Birmingham LGBT, GB Training Ltd and Southside Business Improvement District, which incorporates Birmingham’s gay village, Chinatown and theatre districts.
The design of the sculpture combines a number of different thematic elements. The rhino itself was a well known symbol of gay rights in America, while the ‘jewel’ encrusted surface was meant to act as a tribute to Birmingham’s proud jewellery-making heritage. But the true treasure of the piece lies in the rhino’s constructed ‘heart’ which contains music, photos, videos and stories which were donated by members of Birmingham’s LGBT community.
The artwork was unveiled at the beginning of Birmingham’s Gay Pride weekend, which also coincides with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Following the unveiling, the piece sits on top of Wynner House at the junction of Hurst Street and Bromsgrove Street – a prominent gateway to the area’s gay village.