Hew Locke standing in front of his sculpture Foreign Exchange with Small Heath Leadership Academy students

Annual Review: 2022

As we approach the end of 2022, we would like to thank everyone who has supported Ikon during the year. We remain committed to offering free experiences of art for all, including our exhibitions, off-site projects, talks, tours and workshops.


This year over 230,000 people have visited Ikon Gallery in Brindleyplace, with visitor numbers higher than pre-pandemic.

Highlights of the year included Shadows on the Sky, our popular exhibition of work by Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli, which was paired with the revelatory embroideries of contemporary Sámi (Swedish) artist Britta Marakatt-Labba.

Ikon’s summer exhibition programme Arrivals brought together a host of artists to consider issues of migration and identity. Off-site we enjoyed widespread attention with Foreign Exchange, Hew Locke’s first temporary public sculpture, commissioned by Ikon and presented by Birmingham 2022 Festival.

In the Autumn, visitors were drawn to Ikon’s groundbreaking exhibition of sketches and drawings by nonsense poet Edward Lear; and the first solo exhibition by an Ainu artist in the UK – Mayunkiki.

We end the year with Horror in the Modernist Block, which features 20 UK and international artists, and continues to the start of May 2023.

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Ikon has engaged 150 educators to explore the visual arts and key social issues with a wide range of participants.

Exhibition tours and workshops have been delivered for 4,200 students from early years, primary, secondary, SEND, further and higher education settings.

“A true inspiration for young minds, building on imaginations and provoking the thought process through an emotional connection.”
Teacher with school visit, Whychall Primary.

Vanley Burke’s photographs of members of Migrant Voice feature in school packs, designed by artist educator Haseebah Ali, for key stages 1, 2 and 3 to breakdown intercommunal barriers in the classroom. Currently at Handsworth Library, A Gift to Birmingham continues to tour inner-city venues in 2023.

With the support of Freelands Foundation, Ikon has worked with local art collectives, technicians and teachers to transform Slow Boat into a floating art school. 70 free workshops took place with young people in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, introducing them to ceramics and performance and exploring digital self-portrait photography.

As part of Dean Kelland’s artist residency at HMP Grendon, Ikon has opened the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Studio – a dedicated space for workshops, in printing and painting, and a changing programme of exhibitions, art historical and contemporary.

“My conversations with our Artist in Residence, and my fellow artists who reside here, have been invaluable in helping me realise that art and creativity is not so much about making valuable use of time as it is about making all time valuable.”
 Nick London (name changed) Inside Times, March 2022


Our high-profile exhibitions and projects have gained much press attention. Here are some of the highlights:

The Carlo Crivelli exhibition was given 5 stars by Hettie Judah for iNews; Waldemar Januszczak called Crivelli a ‘dazzling illusionist’ in a review for Sunday Times Culture; Rachel Spence, for her Financial Times review, said the exhibition leaves viewers ‘awed’; Stuart Jeffries recognised Crivelli’s ‘ideas and innovations that made it impossible for me to keep a smile off my face as I wandered around the gallery’ in his Spectator review; and Jonathan Jones gave it 4 stars for The Guardian, describing ‘a joyous encounter with Renaissance art, free from phoney reverence or heavy academicism’.

In Studio International, David Trigg’s review of Britta Marakatt-Labba’s exhibition called her work “so urgent, so timely”.

Foreign Exchange was covered by Louisa Buck for The Art Newspaper; Ermine Saner for The Guardian; Dan Hicks for Hyperallergic; Daniel Trilling for London Review of Books; and Precious Adesina for The New York Times.

Jonathan Jones’ review of Lear for The Guardian included: “The Ikon Gallery has put together an exquisite selection of Lear’s quick, immediate sketches and watercolours. It makes for an intimate, warming show.”

The Guardian’s Saturday magazine dedicated a two-page spread by Kadish Morris to Farwa Moledina’s new work Women of Paradise.

The Telegraph’s chief art critic Alastair Sooke gave Horror in the Modernist Block a 4 star review.

In The Telegraph both the Carlo Crivelli exhibition and Hew Locke’s Foreign Exchange were selected in Best of 2022: Art – Ikon was the only institution featured outside London. Artsy selected Foreign Exchange in its article about The Best Public Art of 2022.

The Team

2022 also saw Ikon enter a new phase in its history as Jonathan Watkins, Director since 1999, stepped down. His final day at Ikon was marked with music and celebration and the return of many friends and supporters.

During the following period, members of the current senior management team have taken on new roles and responsibilities. Ian Hyde is Acting Chief Executive Officer; Melanie Pocock is Acting Artistic Director, Exhibitions; and Dr Linzi Stauvers is Acting Artistic Director, Education.

Thank you. Please support us again next year.

We end the year with a huge thank you to all our artists, visitors, supporters and partners.

As we look forward, we are proud to remain an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, with a 12.2% reduction in funding.

Please continue to support Ikon by visiting our exhibitions; taking part in an event or workshop; making a donation when you can; choosing our independent shop for your next gift; or hiring our rooms for your work events. By engaging with Ikon in these ways you are helping us to keep the gallery free for all.

Thank you for all the support and we look forward to seeing you again in 2023.



See more
Carlo Crivelli
Shadows on the Sky 
Ikon presents the first exhibition in the UK dedicated to the work of Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli.
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Britta Marakatt-Labba
Under the Vast Sky
Ikon presents the first UK exhibition by renowned Sámi (Swedish) artist Britta Marakatt-Labba.
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Audrey Flack
After Crivelli
To coincide with Ikon’s exhibition of works by the 15th century master Carlo Crivelli, the gallery shows two works by the pioneering photorealist artist Audrey Flack.
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Abdulrazaq Awofeso
Commissioned by Ikon, this solo exhibition by Nigerian artist Abdulrazaq Awofeso features all new work.
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Haffendi Anuar
Rumah Berkaki (Legged House)
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Edward Lear 
Moment to Moment
Ikon’s exhibition is the first solely devoted to Lear’s sketches and landscape drawings from across the entire span of his career.
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Farwa Moledina
Women of Paradise
This new work by Birmingham-based artist Farwa Moledina is a study of the four women promised paradise in Islamic tradition. One of these is Maryam (a.s.), mother of Isa, otherwise known as Mary, mother of Jesus.
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Siknure - Let me live
Ikon presents Siknure – Let me live, by Ainu artist and musician Mayunkiki. It is the first solo exhibition by an Ainu artist in the UK.

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

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