Ikon Gallery’s 60th anniversary is hot off the press

The fiercely independent Ikon Gallery at the heart of Westside’s beautiful Brindleyplace estate has launched a new programme at the start of its 60th anniversary year.

And one floor will be creating brand new works for display at the gallery as the weeks go by.

Simon Harris operates the antique flatbed printing press.

Its first exhibition for 2024, running until 21 April, is called Start The Press! Visitors to the first floor will see a cast iron, antique flatbed printing press that will be operated by Simon Harris from the Wolverhampton School of Art, and other expert printmakers from the West Midlands. You can see Simon demonstrating how it works in our exclusive video here:

Items printed on the press during the exhibition will begin to fill up the walls of the first floor gallery around it, ensuring extra value for returning visitors.

Pictures (above and below) from the 60th anniversary exhibition Start The Press!

The other new exhibition in the gallery, also now running until 21 April, is Exodus Crooks’ Ephiphany (Temporaire) commissioned by Art Gallery and International Creators Forum (ICF) and featuring sculpture, film, text and sculptural installations.

During its close season after Christmas, the Ikon transformed its entrance bookshop to make it more open plan with cleaner lines. Yorks Cafe is also now open again on the ground floor.

Ikon Gallery history

The Ikon was founded 60 years ago as an octagonal, glass-walled kiosk in the original Bull Ring Shopping Centre.

In 1968, the Ikon moved to a decommissioned mortuary in Swallow Street, then on to John Bright Street in 1978. In March 1998, the then Ladywood MP Clare Short opened the current home in the Victorian former Oozells Street School, which dates back to 1870.

The Ikon Gallery in Oozells Square.

The gallery is expected to name its new director within weeks. Predecessor Jonathan Watkins was the Ikon’s longest serving director of 23 years when he left on the day of his 65th birthday last October, having already given two years’ notice.

That it has taken 18 months to name his successor is a measure of the size of the footprints that Mr Watkins left to fill.

Back in 2014, Mr Watkins celebrated the gallery’s 50th anniversary with the late and fondly remembered Midge Skene, then 94, who had co-founded the Ikon with her late husband Angus.

Where is it? The Ikon Gallery is in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Westside, Birmingham B1 2HS. Tel 0121 248 0708 or visit ikon-gallery.org.

Pictures and video by Graham Young

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