An afternoon on Ikon Slow Boat

By Oliver, King Edwards VI Five Ways School, Birmingham 



My name is Oliver and I am a student from King Edwards VI Five Ways school in Birmingham and I have just completed a week of work experience at Ikon (9-13 July 2018).

The week was a blast and with each day working at Ikon, there were always new things to do and a new team to assist with. The week of work experience gave me a new appreciation for the arts and for Ikon itself. Before my work experience, I was never aware of all the teams working at Ikon, as well as what happens behind the scenes.

One exciting event I was invited to take part in was an afternoon with Ben Pathy and Alpha Elema which was organised as part of Celebrating Sanctuary’s artist residency on Ikon’s Slow Boat. They taught people about the traditional music and instruments that derive from their native countries (Angola and Congo). Furthermore, the two artists gave the audience an insight on their culture and backgrounds.

It was fascinating to listen to the style of music originating from the artists’ native countries. Pathy taught us that as well as music being pleasurable for people to listen to, in Angola it is also used as a form of communication. For instance, it is used to announce celebrations and it is also used as a distress signal. Pathy was originally performing music with Elema’s father who recommended his son play as well. The band is very successful as they have performed gigs all across Birmingham and they have their own website ( Seeing them perform was a tremendous experience and I recommend you seeing one of their future performances so you can indulge in their amazing native music and you can discover their background and their fascinating journey.

Overall, the week at Ikon was inspiring – I am a 15 year old and I found a lot of art work appealing to me. Ikon has lots of opportunities for teenagers like me; they are open to work experience and they run a group for young aspiring artists, the Ikon Youth Programme (open to anyone between the age of 16 and 21 years). What I find makes this art gallery so unique to other galleries is that all the staff here are extremely approachable and will give you all the advice possible about working in the arts. I recommend to all people my age with an interest to art that you at least visit the Ikon, and maybe even plan going to the Youth Programme because the experience will be worth it!

Celebrating Sanctuary will be performing at St. John’s & St Peter’s Church in Ladywood on Friday 20 July from 7-9pm. Tickets are free but please book online.

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