Hew Locke: Foreign Exchange

Ikon (offsite, Queen Victoria Square, Birmingham)

14 June - 15 Aug 2022

Birmingham’s city-centre sculpture of Queen Victoria reimagined by acclaimed Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke, presented by Birmingham 2022 Festival.

Originally unveiled in 1901, Sir Thomas Brock’s marble figure of Queen Victoria was then recast in bronze by William Bloye and members of Birmingham School of Art in 1951. Locke’s vision was to create “an object of veneration, leading a battalion of other statues to represent the home nation throughout the Empire.”

Locke’s interest in the power of statues originates from his childhood in Guyana where he passed a sculpture of Queen Victoria every day on the way to school. He has been reimagining historical statues for twenty years.

Ragnar Kjartansson: The Sky in a Room

Ikon (offsite, St Mary Magdalen Church, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire)

25 June - 3 July 2022

Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson draws on the histories of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature to develop video installations, durational performances, drawing and painting.

This project, a collaboration with Artes Mundi (Cardiff), involves musicians taking turns to perform an ethereal arrangement of ‘Il Cielo in una Stanza’, the famous love song by Gino Paoli, originally released in 1960. Accompanied by the church organ, the piece was repeated, uninterruptedly, for five hours a day for several days, like a never-ending rosary of love and spatial transformation.

Britta Marakatt-Labba: Under the Vast Sky

Ikon, Birmingham

23 Feb - 29 May 2022

The first UK exhibition by renowned Sámi (Swedish) artist Britta Marakatt-Labba.

Under the Vast Sky featured embroidered pieces by Marakatt-Labba for which she is best known, including panoramas chronicling the history, culture and cosmology of the Sámi, the Indigenous population of the northernmost parts of Scandinavia. These were combined with other art forms to demonstrate the wide range of her practice. Her work overall strikes a balance between the vernacular, the domestic, the intimacy of daily life, and urgent issues of our time such as climate change and terrorism.

Carlo Crivelli: Shadows on the Sky

Ikon, Birmingham

23 Feb - 29 May 2022

The first exhibition in the UK dedicated to the work of Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli.

Shadows on the Sky highlighted Crivelli's experimental use of perspective, trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) and sculptural relief to create illusions of illusionism. Such cleverness was conveyed with consummate craftsmanship and foiled by an extraordinary elegance. Crivelli’s paintings both suggest and undermine his own visual trickery to explore the coexistence of material and spiritual realities.

Organised in partnership with The National Gallery, the exhibition also included loans from other leading institutions such as the National Trust, the Vatican Pinacoteca, the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Wallace Collection, and the Gemäldegalerie

On Kawara: Consciousness. Meditation. Watcher on the Hills

 Ikon, Birmingham 

20 Nov 2002 – 26 Jan 2003

This was the most comprehensive exhibition of work by On Kawara in the UK to date. It exemplified the artist’s ongoing preoccupation with the nature of human consciousness. It included 36 Date Paintings, one for each year since 1966 when the artist began making them, and a rarely seen early drawing, Sundays of 100 Years.

Also included were more than 150 telegrams sent by the artist to friends and colleagues since 1970, bearing just the message ‘I am still alive’. One Million Years – Past and One Million Years – Future are two complementary works listing the passage of time across thousands of pages.

Cornelia Parker: Cold Dark Matter

Chisenhale Gallery, London

18 Sept - 27 Oct 1991

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View consists of a garden shed and its various miscellaneous contents, which have been blown up by the army. The exploded shed is suspended from the ceiling of the gallery with a single light source at its centre. 

The work parodies the Big Bang; the beginning of the universe as a bench experiment in a garden shed. From the initial blast, matter flies out in the form of the shed’s everyday contents. This constellation of domestic appliances, sporting equipment, household objects, gifts and purchases are not exactly examples of the pinnacle of human development and civilization, but are at least a part of its copious inventiveness and folly.

Peter Blake. With Love

Galleria Mucciaccia, Rome

18 Oct 2023 - 18 Jan 2024

This was the most comprehensive exhibition in Italy to date of work by the acclaimed British artist Peter Blake. A painter, sculptor and printmaker, he is often referred to as the 'Father of British Pop Art' with influences ranging from folk art to Dada and Surrealist collage.

The title of the exhibition, With Love, refers to Blake's genuine affection for his human subjects. It is laced with humour - irreverent, absurdist yet not unsympathetic - "nonsensical", in the tradition of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, yet making perfect sense in light of the social upheavals post-World War 2. Artistically, he hit his stride during the 1960s, around the time the Beatles were singing "All You Need is Love".


Christiane Baumgartner. There Goes The Sun

Strawberry Hill House, London

15 Oct 2023 - 10 April 2024

German artist Christiane Baumgartner is internationally renowned for her woodcuts derived from photographic imagery. Movement and the passage of time are recurring themes, also embodied in her chosen medium. Woodcuts involve a lengthy and painstaking process, and once Baumgartner has selected an image she wants to use, she modifies it on a computer using line grids and then transfers it onto a wooden support carving the image by hand.

Whereas earlier work, often depicting built environments, placed emphasis on speed, recently she has turned her attention to slower, natural phonomena. This exhibition, for example, featured a number of sunsets.

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