For five years, Ikon has produced The Migrant Festival, a free annual event that celebrates Birmingham, UK, as a city of migration, sanctuary and refuge. From 17 August – 3 September 2023, this year’s festival features projects by three Birmingham photographers – Vanley Burke, Ayesha Jones and Maryam Wahid – who are collaborating with inner-city communities to share their stories of migration. The festival also includes artists’ talks, music events by Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham and a family workshop.
Vanley Burke, A Gift to Birmingham, 3 July – 16 September 2023, The Exchange, Birmingham
Education is central to Vanley Burke’s exhibition A Gift to Birmingham, which showcases portraits of members of Migrant Voice commissioned by University of Birmingham. Organised by Ikon and presented at The Exchange, the former municipal bank in Centenary Square, Birmingham (3 July – 16 September 2023), A Gift to Birmingham has previously toured community venues in Aston, Handsworth and Smethwick, alongside free resources for Birmingham educators to address diversity through teaching practice. To date, over three hundred children have used the activity packs, which include critical questions and creative exercises, to consider subjects of race, language, culture and religion – allowing learners to express their own identities.
Ayesha Jones, Leave A Light In My Room, 17 – 20 August 2023, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Birmingham-born artist Ayesha Jones documents journeys of migration, motherhood and living with health issues, through photography and film. For her exhibition Leave A Light In My Room, at Ikon Gallery (17 – 20 August 2023), Jones has been commissioned by Birmingham Hospice and Ikon to take photographs of, and document conversations with, the Erdington Asian Group, north Birmingham. Supported by hospice staff, Jones’ photography workshops have provided a space for community members to discuss issues of ageing and dying well. This exhibition forms part of Birmingham City Council’s Compassionate City project, which aims to normalise conversations around death, dying and loss.
Maryam Wahid, Dreams of Brum, 31 August – 3 September 2023, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Themes of loss, memory, displacement, identity and migration run through the artistic practice of Birmingham-based photographer Maryam Wahid. With a focus on the maternal home, Wahid highlights inherited objects and domestic archives as aids for storytelling and learning about cultural heritage. Ikon presents Dreams of Brum, an exhibition of Wahid’s photographic portraits (31 August – 3 September 2023), taken at Handsworth Library during a series of creative community workshops with printmaker Haseebah Ali. Maryam Wahid’s exhibition tours to Handsworth Library throughout autumn and winter 2023.
- Thursday 17 August, 3-4pm. Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham presents live music by Chinese singer Yijia Tu.
- Thursday 31 August, 3-4pm. Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham presents live music by Tala Tarang, a tabla and harp duet with Mendi Singh and Eleanor Turner.
These events take place at Ikon Gallery.
- Wednesday 23 August, 6-7pm. Vanley Burke is in conversation with Dr Reza Gholami, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education, University of Birmingham, about his artistic practice and photographing Birmingham’s diverse communities to inform a more inclusive and engaging education in schools around themes of diversity, belonging and equality. This event takes place at The Exchange, Centenary Square.
- Friday 1 September, 2-3pm.Ayesha Jones and Maryam Wahid are in conversation with Nicola Shipley, Director, GRAIN Projects, on how photography can be used as a tool for addressing difficult subjects. This event take place at Ikon Gallery.
- Saturday 2 September, 11am-3pm. Family Saturday. This event takes place at The Exchange, Centenary Square.
All events are free, donations welcome. Please visit ikon-gallery.org for full details.
A Gift to Birmingham was commissioned as part of the ‘Non-formal Intercommunal Education in Birmingham (NICE-B)’ project, led by Dr Reza Gholami, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education, University of Birmingham. Ayesha Jones’ exhibition Leave A Light In My Room is organised in partnership with Birmingham Hospice and is supported by Birmingham City Council. Maryam Wahid’s exhibition Dreams of Brum is organised in partnership with Handsworth Library and is supported by Birmingham City Council’s Cultural Development Service.
For more information, press appointments, high-res images and to request interviews please contact Rebecca Small by email email@example.com or call Ikon on 0121 248 0708.
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