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The centrepiece of Start the Press! is an antique, flatbed printing press from Wolverhampton School of Art.
The centrepiece of Start the Press! is an antique, flatbed printing press from Wolverhampton School of Art.

The University’s Culture Forward Project is a core supporter of the exhibition and is funding two artists as part of the exhibition as well as giving them access to our archives to explore and be inspired by. The Ikon is one of Culture Forward's valued partner organisations.

The artists will be operating an antique, working flatbed printing press from Wolverhampton School of Art: establishing a functioning printmaking workshop, producing original prints and filling the gallery walls as artwork is made in real time in response to the Mingana collection.

Taiba Akhtar, is one the two regional printmakers as part of the exhibition, making new work in response to the Birmingham Qur’an and Mingana Collection at University of Birmingham. Her evolving interest in language and communication binds the spoken, written and the read. She is particularly intrigued within the intaglio field, surprised by the wonders of etching and the magical nature of engraving. Her visuals stem from time and the passing of time, entangling thoughts, feelings and actions.

Haseebah Ali's work is centred around storytelling and conveying that through a visual language. As a printmaker, mainly working with relief print and intaglio, Ali enjoys weaving themes of her own Pakistani culture within her artwork, as well as highlighting humanitarian topics that need to be spoken about more.

The centrepiece of Start the Press! is an antique, flatbed printing press from Wolverhampton School of Art, taking its position in the gallery as a form of occupation in the tradition of the student art-school sit-ins of the 1960s, and in response to the current challenging economic landscape. Taiba and Haseebah join a wider cohort of eight printmakers that include: Simon Harris, Fae Kilburn, Karen McLean, Laura Onions, Satinder Parhar and Heather Peak.

One of the series of prints by artist Pamela Scott Wilkie, who first exhibited at Ikon in 1966.
One of the series of prints by artist Pamela Scott Wilkie, who first exhibited at Ikon in 1966.

In Ikon’s 60th year, Start the Press! celebrates Ikon’s history of creating opportunities for artists and audiences to make and engage with art through bringing the act of making into the gallery space. 

The University of Birmingham's Mingana Collection comprises nearly 3,000 manuscripts of mainly Arabic and Syriac Middle Eastern origin, together with other items including a few Hebrew and Jewish works, coins, seals and clay tablets. Founded in Birmingham between 1925 and 1929 by Edward Cadbury, and named after the Iraqi scholar Dr Alphonse Mingana, who came to live in Selly Oak. The collection is one of the few with a particular significance for researchers in the University of Birmingham's Department of Theology and Religion and those interested in art, history and archives.  

Event details

Join the Ikon Gallery to celebrate the launch of Ikon’s new exhibitions Start the Press! and Exodus Crooks: Epiphany (Temporaire).

The event will take place on Thursday 8 February 2024 (17:00–19:00) with free entry and no booking required beforehand in the Ikon Gallery first and second floor spaces in Birmingham City Centre. For additional access enquiries please contact education@ikon-gallery.org.