IKON Gallery and The New Art Gallery in Walsall

IKON Gallery and The New Art Gallery in Walsall

This year, A Level and GCSE art and design students were handed their final exam papers outside the IKON gallery in Birmingham, which is a stone’s throw away from the college.

This was an exciting time for everyone as each student started the process of exploring a chosen theme in a gallery. This is a process that lasts right up until the portfolio deadline at the end of the academic year.

Inside the IKON Gallery students explored the work of Jamal Penjweny who is a photographer from Sulaimaniya, Iraq Kurdistan. Penjweny’s body of work titled ‘Saddam is Here’ consisted of 12 photographic portraits of Iraqi people in familiar surroundings, each holding a lifesize picture of Saddam Hussein’s face in front of their own. Saddam’s likeness becomes a mask obscuring any expression of emotion, any gaze, or possibility of sure identification and individuality.

Jamal Penjweny on the work - “Saddam is here. Iraqi society cannot forget him even after his death because some of us still love him and the rest are still afraid of him … His shadow is still following Iraqi society everywhere.”

After spending a thoroughly inspirational morning in the IKON gallery, the group walked through central Birmingham and boarded a train from Birmingham New Street Station to Walsall. After a short train journey, the group arrived at the New Art Gallery, Walsall. Different to the IKON gallery, it not only showcases contemporary art but also older more traditional works. The gallery boasts work created by some of the masters including Van Gogh, Monet, Turner, Renoir and Constable.

With all this valuable and exquisite work on show, it was refreshing to see MPW art and design students taking most interest in work created in and around the West Midlands in a show titled ‘Back to Front: 40 Permanent Collection Gems’.