The Ikon Gallery in Oozells Square, Birmingham, is one of the most beautiful and impressive buildings in the city. Dedicated to modern art, it is always an interesting place to visit, with exhibitions that inspire and make you ask questions. Currently it is home to Here’s The Thing, an exhibition of the work of Hew Locke, and last week I went along to take a look, intrigued by an article in the What’s On magazine that showed a fascinating image of a statue of Queen Victoria.
Hew Locke’s work is inspired and often features Guyana, the birthplace of his parents, and where he spent most of his formative years. Boats and ships are another motif that feature a lot, Hew had travelled to Guyana from Britain as a five year old, and then came back as a young man, and he is fascinated by the way that ships can transport things across the sea, both for good and bad.
The exhibition is a mixture of photographic images, video installations and sculpture and 3d pieces. The piece that had initially inspired me to want to see the exhibition is Hinterland. Hinterland (2013), is a reworked photograph of a statue of Queen Victoria in Georgetown, Guyana, The statue was removed in 1970 and dumped in the undergrowth of Georgetown’s Botanical Gardens where it decayed, lost a hand, part of its nose, and was generally forgotten and unloved. The statue was rescued in the 1980s and restored to its original setting, but not mended in any way. Hew decorates the image with symbols of Guyana and South America, carnival type figures the echo of Día de Muertos type imagery, and seems to be saying that we should learn from our history, rather than trying to whitewash anything that makes us feel uncomfortable.
Other motifs run through Locke’s work, including iconic pictures of our current Queen obscured by plastic, and his use of cheap beads to create huge works of detail and beauty is quite incredible.
Definitely worth checking out.
Hew Locke – Here’s the Thing
Ikon Gallery Birmingham Until 2nd June