A PROJECT by renowned Black Country artist Luke Perry to create a steel sculpture celebrating Muslim women in the region is taking shape.

The 16-foot piece of art, named ‘The Strength of the Hijab’, will be moved to its permanent home near Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick, later this year.

It depicts a Muslim woman wearing a hijab with the words ‘it is a woman’s right to be loved and respected whatever she chooses to wear’ inscribed across its base.

Artist Luke Perry, who lives in Stourbridge and has a workshop in Mushroom Green, Cradley Heath, said inspiration for his piece came from speaking to Muslim women in the area who felt “under-represented”.

The talented sculptor said – despite a large Islamic following in Smethwick – they were saddened that “nothing looked like them”.

The artwork will provide “visibility” for Muslim women and show they too are “powerful, beautiful and strong”, he added.

Mr Perry, who installed another steel sculpture celebrating Black History along Birmingham Canal Old Line earlier this year, said: “I’m really pleased with it how it’s turned out. But the most important thing is the feedback we get – which so far has been great.

“The idea for the piece came from speaking to Muslim women who I work with at Community Connect Foundation. I asked them what artwork they would like to see and they talked about how they have no representation; nothing that looked like them.

“They want to be able to show their children things in the environment which makes them feel connected, important and gives them pride. Not just endless history on rich white men.

“It’s nice to represent the times. It’s about making people feel like they belong somewhere. In my artwork I like to convey themes of ‘home’ and having pride in the community.”

The artwork, which has taken six months to build, but is not quite complete, was approved by Sandwell planners in August.

It will be installed on land next to Brasshouse Lane and Galton Valley Pumping Station in early November.