Ikon’s 2017 was nothing short of brilliant. Late November saw the close of an exhibition of German artist Kathë Kollwitz, curated in partnership with The British Museum. The exhibition welcomed a record number of visitors, a testament to the quality of the work on display. This collection of her powerful and poignant work, entitled Portrait of the Artist, is on tour and can currently be seen in Young Gallery, Salisbury. It will move on to Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea from 24th March. Last year, Ikon also featured work by the fantastic Sheela Gowda and Sidney Nolan, both transforming the gallery’s space with vibrant and colourful artworks.
Until the 11th of March 2018, you can still catch two striking shows; the first UK exhibition of convict artist Thomas Bock and In Place of Hate, a stunning presentation of Edmund Clark’s photographic portraits. Bock’s work is a rich selection of drawings, paintings and photographs documenting his work whilst he was living in Tasmania. Clark is Ikon’s current artist-in-residence (2014-18) at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire. By working with inmates, prison officers and therapeutic staff, Clark’s work sheds new light on the effects of incarceration. Make sure to catch both Bock and Clark’s exhibitions whilst they’re in Birmingham.
This year, Ikon is celebrating 20 years since its move to a beautiful neo-gothic former school in Oozells Square, Brindley Place. Keen to build on its success – as over 2.6 million people have visited Ikon in this location – there is an exciting and diverse programme for the upcoming year.
From the 21st of March, Ikon will host Langlands & Bell, a sculptural partnership marking their 40th year together. British artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell’s new exhibition, Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe looks towards the multinational companies currently dominating our everyday life. Through relief sculptures, installations, digital animations and portraits, this dynamic duo will explore and challenge the influence these companies exert over us. A touch of Black Mirror, their stark, pixelated portraits are sure to leave a lasting impression long after you leave (and perhaps prompt you to delete your search history).
Also joining Ikon in March is Cyclic by Rie Nakajima, bringing her incredible experimental style to the city. Using a combination of kinetic devices, found objects and musical instruments, Nakajima’s work is engaging and yet transparent. Further experimentation with sound, although in a completely different way, sees the work of Max Eastley grace Perrot’s Folly in Ladywood. Normally inaccessible to the public, from 10th May visitors will be able to appreciate Eastley’s delicate work with Aeolian harps, transforming the tower into an immersive aural experience.
The full programme for the coming year is simply impressive. Welcoming artists from all over the world, this year will see Osman Yousefzada, Francis Alÿs, Vladimír Kokolia, Polly Apfelbaum and Haroon Mirza all bring their individual talent to the city. Beyond the gallery’s walls, Ikon continues to engage local communities through their travelling Slow Boat. For the international fan, Ikon is even screening Floating World in Baghdad.
The gallery continues to prove its commitment to the development of new art and education. For anyone in Birmingham, whether amateur art lover or distinguished academic, Ikon’s upcoming exhibitions promise bright and beautiful things.
For more information on any of the upcoming exhibitions or artists mentioned, see Ikon’s website https://www.ikon-gallery.org
Review by Sophie Bremner @sophiebremner_