National Treasures: Artemisia in Birmingham

Jesse Jones: Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon


National Treasures: Artemisia in Birmingham

Jesse Jones: Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon

Ikon is a partner in National Treasures, a key strand of the programme celebrating the National Gallery’s Bicentenary, NG200. Ikon presents a masterpiece by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654 or later), Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615-17).

Wrapped around the Gentileschi work, and made as a direct response, is a solo exhibition by contemporary Irish artist Jesse Jones, whose artistic practice crosses film, sound, performance, sculpture and installation. Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon considers art history, cinema, feminism, ritual and healing, presenting multiple interconnected archetypes of feminist resistance.

For this self-portrait Artemisia Gentileschi, the most celebrated female artist of the seventeenth century, appears in the guise of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian saint martyred in the early fourth century. Fascinated by Gentileschi’s decision to title her work Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Jesse Jones explores the performative relationship between the artist and the medium of self-portraiture. Through extensive research, Jones, like many other contemporary scholars, views Gentileschi’s work as a composite of three women: Gentileschi herself, Saint Catherine (287-305 AD) and the pagan philosopher, mathematician and astronomer Hypatia (around 370–415 AD).

Jones transforms Ikon’s gallery space to present audiences with an opportunity to “encounter” Gentileschi’s self-portrait through sound and architectural interventions. Interrupting the exhibition space is The well of Eels (2024), a scrim curtain with a printed image showing an entanglement of bodies referencing an ouroboros – a serpent eating its own tail. Created in collaboration with Junk Ensemble the work is itself a self-portrait of twin choreographers Jessica and Megan Kennedy. Within Ikon’s space, Gentileschi’s masterpiece takes centre stage and is accompanied by Head of Prudence (c. early 1400s), a two-faced marble sculpture from The Barber Institute of Fine Arts’ collection.

In the final space, Jesse Jones presents a new 16mm film Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon (2024), a cartographic operatic work based on the landscape of Mount Sinai, where the body of St Catherine was mystically elevated after her martyrdom. The film includes a score composed by Irene Buckley, starring Colombian American singer Stephanie Lamprea, and featuring the music of Francesca Caccini, a friend and contemporary of Gentileschi. This film holds a powerful space for healing and contemplation with Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria invoked, in the words of Jones, as a “triple headed goddess”.

Jesse Jones’ exhibition is supported by The Ampersand Foundation, Culture Ireland, Arts Council of Ireland and The Finnis Scott Foundation. It is presented as part of Ikon’s 60th anniversary year.


Exhibition Details

10 May – 8 September 2024

Open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am-5pm

Free entry, please consider making a donation

Associated Event:
Water Ritual: Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon
Every Thursday and Saturday

This exhibition is on the First Floor

Please note this exhibition contains some nudity and is a darkened space with variable flashing lights and loud sound. Seating available.

Information on Ikon Gallery’s accessibility is available here

For additional access enquiries please contact education@ikon-gallery.org


Ikon Gallery

1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS



Document Name
Exhibition Guide
232.6 kB
Press Release
339.9 kB
Ikon Forward Programme 2024
2.2 MB


See more
As part of Jesse Jones’ solo exhibition Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon, Ikon hosts a unique water ritual. Participants are invited to experience an interactive eye-cure ceremony, which transmits Irish folk collecting practices and prepares visitors for a private encounter with Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615-17).
See more
Support Ikon: 60 for 60
This year marks Ikon’s 60th anniversary. Ikon remains free for everyone and committed to showcasing the best of British and International art, working with local communities to address key social issues and championing arts education.
Events/Talk07.06.2024 / 5.30pm6.30pm
See more
Artist's Talk: Jesse Jones
Join artist Jesse Jones and Lucy Mounfield, Curator at Ikon, for a talk about Jones’ artistic practice and her current exhibition Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon.

1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace
Birmingham, B1 2HS

GALLERY: +44 (0)121 248 0708
SHOP: +44 (0)121 248 0711

Ikon is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and Birmingham City Council.

Copyright © 2024 IKON. All rights reserved. Registered charity no. 528892