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At Home with Vanley Burke Exhibition - Ikon Gallery Birmingham

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Archive Of Black British Culture Through Photos & Belongings
An exciting free art exhibition by the Godfather of Black British photography comes to Birmingham's Ikon Gallery this summer.

Vanley Burke1
One of the striking images by photographer Vanley Burke. Photo courtesy of Vanley Burke and Ikon Gallery


At Home with Vanley Burke features a vast array of exhibits by and belonging to the Birmingham-based artist as the entire contents of Burke's flat in Nechells has been transported into Ikon's main exhibition space.

Black African and Caribbean culture in Britain will be under the spotlight as Burke is a dedicated archivist and collector of objects relating to this subject from posters to clothes, records and ornaments.

The exhibition will be open at Ikon Gallery from July 22 to September 27.

Burke was born in Jamaica in 1951 and emigrated to live in Britain in 1965, where he settled in Birmingham and still lives there today.

Vanley Burke2
Vanley Burke's flat, which is being transported to Ikon Gallery. Images courtesy of Vanley Burke and Ikon Gallery


Burke went on to have an illustrious career, capturing striking photographs including from the streets of Handsworth in Birmingham during the disturbances of the 1980s to recording black life at the end of apartheid in South Africa.

His work documenting the experience of black people in the UK for over 45 years, regarded as the greatest photographic record of African Caribbean people in post-war Britain, will be on display as part of this exhibition.

Vanley Burke, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, At Home With Vanley Burke Exhibition
Vanley Burke recorded a catalogue of Black British Culture in his photographs. Photo courtesy of Vanley Burke and Ikon Gallery


Speaking about the exhibition, Vanley Burke says: "This flat is many things, it's an archive, it's a gallery, it's my home, it's where I collect a part of our history.

History is part of a lived experience… it's those objects which might look so insignificant, so kitsch, but to a lot of people it contains so much information about how their parents lived."

Vanley Burke3
Vanley Burke wasn't afraid to photograph tensions in Britain. Photo courtesy of Vanley Burke and Ikon Gallery


A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which has been illustrated by the artist and includes texts by Peter James, Curator of Photographs at Library of Birmingham, and artist Marlene Smith.

A spokeswoman for Ikon Gallery said: "Burke's collection stands as one of the most significant bodies of material in the city of Birmingham's Archives, and exists in part within the Library of Birmingham; the majority, however, remain in his flat near the city centre.

"The countless objects that fill Burke's space, serve as a portrait of religious and political beliefs, artistic activities, fashions, leisure pursuits, food, health issues and many other aspects of everyday life. These items are on public exhibition at Ikon, revealing a shared human experience and community identity that has long been hidden from view."

At Home with Vanley Burke is supported by funds raised through Art Happens, the Art Fund's crowd-funding platform.

At Home with Vanley Burke Exhibition
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
22 July – 27 September, 2015

Ikon Gallery
0121 248 0708
www.ikon-gallery.org
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm.
Free entry
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Why? See an archive of Black British Culture in Britain
When: From July 22 - September 27, 2015
Phone: 0121 248 0708
Where: Ikon Gallery
Cost: Free
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