"Pay for it and shut up": Ikon Gallery to auction works by "greatest hits" artists

By Ben Miller | 04 March 2015

Former Turner Prize winner says gallery auction is antidote to "world of pig-ignorant arseholes"

A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing various thin lines in different colours
Ian Davenport, Colourcade (2015). Acrylic paint on stainless steel sheet mounted on aluminium© Courtesy Ian Davenport / Ikon
Last year, Ikon – the Birmingham gallery which has inspired and launched the careers of hundreds of artists – marked its 50th anniversary with an extensive programme of exhibitions and events reflecting on decades of progressive thinking.

A “greatest hits”, featuring some of its brightest stars, is about to culminate the celebrations. A major contemporary art auction, held at Sotheby’s this July, will sell works donated by the likes of Fiona Banner, David Batchelor, Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Roger Hiorns, Cornelia Parker and many more.

One of them, George Shaw, says Ikon has been a fixture in his career “ever since I started to think about art and the idea that it was made by people who weren't dead.”

“I remember doing a workshop sometime in the early 80s with, I think, Adrian Wiszniewski,” says the Coventry-centric 2011 Turner Prize nominee.

A photo of an ampersand lit up in light blue glowing neon against a grey gallery wall
Fiona Banner, Ampersand (2013). Ampersand designed by Lawrence Weiner, modelled in neon by Fiona Banner. Neon, paper template, wire, transformer, Perspex frame© Courtesy Fiona Banner / Frith Street Gallery / Ikon
“I would have seen the workshop advertised somewhere and come along on my own.

“The experience was very far from the art we would have done at school. When I was asked to support the auction my first thought was, ‘if artists don't support places like Ikon then what's the point?’”

Parker will be joined by Richard Deacon, Beatriz Milhazes, Richard Wilson and Yinka Shonibare in creating a series of limited edition artworks for the auction. A brief exhibition will also be held at the gallery, which was established by a group of artists in 1964.

“I think it's too easy to overlook the commitment places like Ikon have for education,” stresses Shaw, making his convincing case to would-be bidders at the auction.

“Who wants to live in a world full of pig-ignorant arseholes? No-one, it seems. So pay for it and shut up.”

  • Artists for Ikon is at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham from April 24 – May 4 2015. Follow the gallery on Twitter @ikongallery and on Facebook.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an etching in grey showing a naked human figure upside down
Antony Gormley, CONNECT (2014). Carbon and casein on paper. Signed, titled and dated on verso, inscribed 'For Ikon's 50th with love & thanks'© Courtesy Antony Gormley / Ikon
A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing dark purple and light pink formations
Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses (2008-38). Chalk charcoal and pencil on canvas© Courtesy Ding Yi / Ikon
A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing yellow triangles against blue lines
François Morellet, 12 lignes au hasard hybrides blanc et jaune (2007). Acrylic on canvas on wood© Courtesy François Morellet / Ikon
A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing red paint daubed over white on green
Imran Qureshi, I want you to stay with me (2014). Drawing in situ, acrylic paint on floor, paper and wall© Courtesy Imran Qureshi / Ikon
A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing various boxes and bits of metal
Lee Bul, Untitled (2003). Polyurethane panel, cast polyurethane, stainless steel, aluminium rods, acrylic paint© Donation courtesy Lee Bul. Photo: Jeon Byung-cheol. Courtesy Studio Lee Bul / Ikon
A photo of a piece of contemporary art showing various thin lines in different colours
Ian Davenport, Colourcade (2015). Acrylic paint on stainless steel sheet mounted on aluminium© Courtesy Ian Davenport / Ikon
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