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Blog: The Ikon Gallery

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Last week the Dates Of My Annual Leave and I went up to Birmingham to see some a) pals b) ART. Executive summary: all were GRATE!

Once we got to Brum we met aforesaid pals at the Ikon Gallery, an amazing SPACE that (according to The Internet) is a former school that has been re-done (according to our party) in a really lovely way. Within it there were THREE (3) exhibitions, all of which complied with my stated preferences for such things i.e. they were short and they were dead good.

The first was my favourite, "Shadows In The Sky", a collection of paintings by RENAISSANCE painter Carlo Crivelli. Whenever you go to a big gallery you see LOADS of religious paintings from back when they used to be hung up in churches, but these ones were AMAZING as he kept playing around with the 3D. I am vaguely aware that this was around the time they worked out how to do perspective, and there sure was a lot of that going on, but he also messed around with painting objects to look like they were in FRONT of the main picture e.g. a PICKLE lounging around over the top of the bottom of a picture of HEAVEN or a bunch of APPLES strung across the top of another one, casting a shadow on the sky (hence the exhibition title). It was HEADY STUFF, although as tends to be the way the Gallery Descriptions made it LESS easy to work this out, with phrases like "paradoxically unthink" etc etc.

There was also a small MODERN ART bit which was supposedly "interacting" with the other stuff. This seems to be Quite The Thing for art galleries these days, and always comes off (to connoisseurs like what I am) as A Bit Of A Stretch and Probably Just How You Get Funding. In this case there were some OBJECTS lying around, including a discarded sheet, leaning broom and old boilersuit that initially looked like just a bit of a mess. It was VERY What The Daily Mail Thinks Modern Art Is, although once you got up close and deciphered the description you COULD see a point to it, it just didn't seem to have any relation to anything else. MUCH better was a side room with two paintings by Audrey Flack that were "After Crivelli". They sort of were, but were also DIFFERENT, and also Quite Good.

There were only about 12 exhibits all together, so we were full of ART THIRST and ready to go to the NEXT exhibition, which was "Under The Vast Sky" (I've only just noticed the SKY THEME here), a retrospective of embroidered pieces by Sámi (Swedish) artist Britta Marakatt-Labba. It was DEAD GOOD. The basic idea was lots of long tapestries showing the indigeounous Sámi people of Sweden with scenes of LIFE in general. I thought it was going to be a bit Stern but it was all done in an DELIGHTFUL way, like one of those big centrefolds you used to get in the middle of a Beano Summer Special with hundreds of people dashing about getting up to different things. It wasn't in the STYLE of Leo Baxendale, but it certainly felt like it was in the spirit, with STORIES everywhere. I liked it!

Again, it wasn't really helped by the gallery guide, which seemed to have been written before the placing of the ITEMS were finalised, but again it was ALL GOOD and also BRIEF, so we still had energy left for the FINAL item, which was an "immersive classical experience" called "Lusitano Remixed". Someone had done a new version of a CHORAL PIECE by Vicente Lusitano, got together a choir, and then recorded it with a seperate microphone for each singer. Each recording was then played out of a seperate speaker, so as you walked around the room you heard each individual singer, as if you were in the middle of the group. Whether you'd WANT to be in the middle of a Classical Choir BELLOWING it out is a question for another time, but it was an AMAZING experience to wander around in, and this time the gallery notes (on a big sign on the wall) were DEAD INTERESTING and helpful. More like that please!

It was, in fact, a pretty flipping GRATE gallery experience with THE ART being fab. If you happen to be in The West Midlands I would HIGHLY recommend popping in!

posted 25/4/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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