Currents: Empire and Migration

March – June 2019

This project brought together artist Jane Thakoordin, Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) and the Barber Collective to explore an exhibition at Ikon Gallery alongside an object in the Barber’s collection. The project drew points for consideration and inspiration from Hew Locke’s Armada (2019) which was displayed in his 2019 exhibition at Ikon Gallery Here’s the Thing and a Benin Ikegobo which is part of the Barber’s collection.

During a series of workshops participants explored and discussed the history of the 1897 British punitive expedition to Benin, the looting of the Ikegobo and the story of Idia, the first queen mother of Benin, a motif common in the work of Hew Locke.

“Working in coproduction with 15 young people from both IKON and Barber, we created an artistic response to Guyanese artist Hew Locke’s exhibition “Here’s the Thing.” Drawing on my Guyanese heritage and our shared knowledge of Empire and colonialism, over 6 sessions, we created an ambitious performance, incorporating textiles, music, storytelling and installation to take over the Slow Boat. The performance boat floated up the canals as part of Migrant Festival 2019”.

Jane Thakoordin

IYP and the Barber Collective decorated Slow Boat and were joined by a real-life figurehead Lara. Lara wore clothing made by the young people that re- appropriated Victorian costume using Guyanese inspired fabrics and colours. At the end of the project the decorated Slow Boat and figurehead floated between Ikon and the Barber Institute creating a processional dialogue between the two exhibitions.

The event was part of IKON Gallery’s The Migrant Festival (30 May – 2 June 2019) a four day festival fusing migration, art, music and performance supported by Arts Council England, Michael Marsh Charitable Trust and The Sainsbury Trust.

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