Iraq plans to build 19 statues and monuments throughout Baghdad, portraying figures and events drawn from Iraq's history and culture as part of the Ministry of Culture's celebrations marking Baghdad as the Arab Capital of Culture for 2013, officials at the ministry said on Wednesday (September 12th).
Ministry Spokesperson Abdul Qader Saadi al-Jumaili told Mawtani that the sculptures will be of different sizes and will be erected at Baghdad squares and intersections before mid-March 2013.
He said the project includes two monuments, one named "The Monument of Iraq" and the other "The Monument of Gilgamesh". It also includes 17 statues that will represent well-known political, cultural, arts, sports, and religious figures.
Sculptor Abbas Ghareeb created the Monument of Iraq, while artist Hadi Hamza designed the Monument of Gilgamesh.
The two men were selected as part of a nation-wide competition held by the ministry earlier this year, according to al-Jumaili.
Al-Jumaili said the Iraq Monument will be the "most important of all the sculptures and will be erected at Firdos Square, which is considered one of the important landmarks of the city because it was the site of a statue of former president Saddam Hussein and signalled the fall of his regime when it was brought down in 2003".
The new monument is 21-metres-high and has a circular shape and four gates of the Abbasid architectural style. Its top ends are interwoven, and the monument is adorned with bronze carved scenery representing all the civilisations that have passed through the land of Mesopotamia.
Al-Jumaili said the ministry also intends to increase the number of statues of pioneering political figures who have played a dominant role in Iraqi society beyond the 17 statues already planned.
Among the figures represented in the 17 statues are sculptors Mohammad Ghani Hikmat, Fayek Hassan, and Jawad Saleem, sociologist Ali al-Wardi, author Kamil Shiyaa, poets Nazik al-Malaika and Mustafa Jamaludeen and scholar Taha Baqir;
The sculptures also include the first woman to become a cabinet minister in Iraq, Naziha al-Dulaimi, scholar and jurisprudent Ahmed al-Waeli and Father Anastas al-Karmali.
Iraqi sculptors welcomed plans to erect monuments and statues in Baghdad, describing it as a good beginning for the revival of Iraqi art of sculpture.
Sculptor Yahya Mushtaq said, "Up until recently, we felt that the art of sculpture in Iraq had died, because of the lack of government policy to nurture this art." "Now we believe that life has returned, and in a strong way, to the body of Iraqi sculpture," he added.
Sculptor Omar Abdul Salam, said, "Sculptors were very stressed because they could not use their talents, but the time has come [for creativity] to find manifestation in their works."
"I believe the works that will be completed will reflect a lot of skill, technique, and precision," he added.
Sculptor Riyadh Hamza, described the project as the "Spring of Iraqi Sculpture", inspired by the revolutions of the Arab Spring.
"We have a lot of art in store for which we must find a place in real life," Hamza told Mawtani.
"There will be tough competition between the artists [who hope] to immortalise their names by having their works prevail," he added.