Ikon is an internationally acclaimed art gallery situated in central Birmingham.

Housed in a magnificent neo-gothic school building, it is an educational charity and works to encourage public engagement with contemporary art through exhibiting new work in a context of debate and participation. It offers free entry to all.

In this section

The gallery programme features artists from around the world. A variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation.

Ikon’s off-site programme develops dynamic relationships between art, artists and audiences outside the gallery. Projects vary enormously in scale, duration and location, challenging expectations of where art can be seen and by whom.

Education is at the heart of Ikon’s activities, stimulating public interest in and understanding of contemporary visual art. Through a variety of talks, tours, workshops and seminars, our Learning team aims to build a meaningful relationship with Ikon’s audience that enables visitors to engage with, discuss and reflect on contemporary art.

How it all began

In 1964, the artists’ group that founded Ikon published a prospectus that was as clear as it was idealistic. Their aesthetic proposition was neatly summarised:

“Ikon is intended as an antithesis to exclusive art establishments and galleries … [it] has been formed because of the need for an accessible place where the exchange of visual ideas can become a familiar reality.”

About image
About image

From its first home in a kiosk in the Bull Ring, through various moves around the city, Ikon now resides in Brindleyplace.

Visit the History section to read more about Ikon’s past.

Why Ikon?

We had a meeting at Midge and Angus’ in order to decide on a name for the organisation. We all turned up with suggestions, such as “New Birmingham Gallery” and “Image”. I was particularly interested in Russian or Greek – eastern orthodox – icons, and thought well “Ikon” is a lovely word. It means image and you get a four letter word that divides beautifully geometrically and was splendid in all directions. It was appropriate (also) because it suggested moving images … When I mooted it the others said “Oh no, no really, no, not having any of that …” After a few more beers everyone else’s suggestions were shot down and they said “Oh well, I suppose it will have to be Ikon then”.

Robert Groves