Exploring Migration And Brexit Through Art

Midlands gallery hosts 2019 The Migrant Festival

EXHIBITION: Hew Locke's artwork (Photo: Tom Bird, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, ikon-gallery.org)

AN IN conversation event with MP David Lammy and artist Hew Locke is just one of the features of this year’s The Migrant Festival, four days fusing visual art, music, film and performance.

Starting at the end of this month, events include a performance by Syrian Ood player, Rihab Azar with Celebrating Sanctuary; a screening of The Colony (1964) directed by Philip Donnellan and filmed in Birmingham; an introduction to Professor Stuart Hall’s newly acquired archive at the Library of Birmingham and much more.

The festival occurs during the last four days of Hew Locke’s exhibition, Here’s The Thing, at Ikon.


IN CONVERSATION: David Lammy features on this year’s programme

It includes Armada (2019), an installation of suspended galleons, cruisers, lifeboats and rafts, conflating historic and contemporary migratory trends. Amidst the flock is the Empire Windrush, symbolic of a mass movement of people from the Caribbean to the UK between 1948 – 1971.

The Migrant Festival starts with this history, whilst providing a platform for individuals to speak about Brexit and share their plans for Refugee Week 2019.

“Like most people, it never occurred to me that the Windrush issue was not settled, that it was even an issue at all,” Hew Locke said.

He added: “This stuff is so hard to talk about, I get angry. Now, in the light of what we’re facing with Brexit and ideas of national identity, I’m rethinking Britishness in different ways, saying to myself “OK Hew, so we’re not as accepted as we thought we were”, and that’s disturbing. This is one of the things that motivates me to make work, to get up in the morning and head down to the studio.”

Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, hosts The Migrant Festival.

Open Tuesday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am – 5pm. Admission is free.

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