Ikon announces 2024 exhibitions & celebrates 60 years

Ikon announces plans for 2024, during which time the gallery celebrates its 60th anniversary. Established as an artists-led alternative space in the Bullring in 1964, Ikon remains free to all and committed to showcasing the very best of British and international art.

Exhibition Programme

Ikon’s 60th year sees artists responding to archives, collections and heritage sites.

In the Spring, a cohort of regional printmakers will operate a vintage printing press, on loan from Wolverhampton School of Art, to produce the exhibition Start the Press! with the support of Jerwood Foundation. At the same time, Ikon shows Birmingham artist Exodus Crooks‘ exhibition, Epiphany (Temporaire), commissioned by Ort Gallery and International Curators Forum (ICF). This is followed by a major digital commission, by Ikon in partnership with The Exchange, University of Birmingham, for which Crooks responds to The Stuart Hall Archive Project.

Left: Flatbed printing press, Wolverhampton School of Art. Photo by Tod Jones. Image courtesy Ikon. 

Right: Exodus Crooks, Doing Duties for Miss Dell (2023), installation view Epiphany (Temporaire), courtesy ICF and Ort Gallery. 

In Summer 2024, Ikon is proud to be a partner in National Treasures 2024, The National Gallery’s Bicentenary celebration, hosting Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615-17). Juxtaposed with this masterpiece is new immersive work by Irish artist Jesse Jones, funded by Ampersand Foundation, Arts Council Ireland and Culture Ireland.

Left:  Artemisia Gentileschi, 1593 – 1654 or later. Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, about 1615-17. Bought with the support of the American Friends of the National Gallery, the National Gallery Trust, Art Fund (through the legacy of Sir Denis Mahon), Lord and Lady Sassoon, Lady Getty, Hannah Rothschild CBE and other donors including those who wish to remain anonymous, 2018. © The National Gallery, London.

Right: Jesse Jones, The Tower. Installation with video and sculpture and live activation. Talbot Rice Gallery (2023). Photo by Sally Jubb. Courtesy the artist.

Also in the Summer, Ikon presents the first major solo exhibition by British artist Dion Kitson. His work dissects class and identity through sculpture, film, collage and textile and the exhibition is supported by The Foundation Foundation. Ikon partners with English Heritage on an ambitious off-site commission with Kitson, to respond to the J. W. Evans Silver Factory in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.

Left: Dion Kitson, Burn Out (2023). Bronze Frosty Jack Cider bottle. Photo by Steve Russell Studios. Image courtesy the artist.

Right: Dion Kitson, Conch (2023). Deconstructed football. Photo by Steve Russell Studios. Image courtesy the artist.

The Autumn/Winter programme features an exhibition with the British Council Collection and macLYON: Friends in Love and War / Meilleur·es ennemi·es, showing work by over 20 artists, based around the theme of friendship.

Left: Rachel MacLean, The Lion and The Unicorn (2012). Single channel HD video, colour and sound. 11 minutes 30 seconds. © Rachel Maclean, 2012, commissioned by The Edinburgh Printmakers. Courtesy of British Council Collection.

Right: Hetain Patel, Don’t Look at The Finger (2017). Single channel HD video, 169, colour and stereo sound. 16 minutes 8 seconds. © Hetain Patel. Courtesy of British Council Collection.

Education Programme

Ikon’s Education Programme addresses key social issues whilst championing arts education, often working off-site with artists to collaborate with communities.

Two commissions launched in 2023 tour to local and national venues in 2024; Maryam Wahid’s Dreams of Brum, featuring photographic portraits of Handsworth residents, is displayed at Handsworth Library; Foka Wolf’s Why Are We Stuck in Hospital? is installed in two contemporary art galleries in cities associated with Impact, the UK centre for implementing research in adult social care.

Left:  B. Singh (left). B. Bhart (right). Maryam Wahid, Dreams of Brum (2023). Images courtesy the artist.

Right: Foka Wolf, Why Are We Stuck in Hospital? (2023). Image courtesy Ikon. Photo by Tegen Kimbley. 

Ikon’s artist residency Art at HMP Grendon, generously supported by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, enters its 10th year with a focus on the development of artistic practice within a dedicated studio space at the prison. Ikon Youth Programme (IYP), funded by Freelands Foundation, reflects on its navigation of the waterways on board Slow Boat, offering an alternative curriculum against the backdrop of funding cuts to arts education. Ikon’s partnership with the School of Education, University of Birmingham, continues with a series of Teacher Twilights that challenge assumptions about migration, breaking down institutional and intercommunal barriers within the Birmingham classroom.

Left: Prisoner-made pinhole photograph (2023). Image courtesy Ikon. 

Right: Ikon Youth Programme with Slow Boat in Stourbridge (2023). Image courtesy Ikon. 

For Green Spaces, Ikon and Living Well Consortium collaborate to raise awareness of, and engagement with, topics centred on mental health and wellbeing. Birmingham-born artist Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora will work with communities, taking photographic portraits against the backdrop of the city’s green spaces, and exploring the benefits of nature to our health. Partnering with Birmingham City Council’s Public Health Division, Ikon supports different arts and health initiatives, including Feeding Chair, a project by In Certain Places, exploring the complex issue of how we choose to feed infants in public spaces.

Left: Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora. Photo by Emma Lewis.

Right: Feeding Chair (2022). Modelled by Meysa and Razan. Photo by Fiona Finchett


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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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