Hew Locke: Heres the Thing Exhibitions

Involving a wide range of media – painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and installation, including extensive use of collage and found objects – Locke explores the languages of colonial and post-colonial power, and the symbols through which different cultures assume and assert identity. Fusing historical source material with a keen interest in current affairs, often through the juxtaposition or modification of existing artefacts, Locke focuses attention especially on the UK, the monarchy and his childhood home of the then newly independent Guyana.

Through appropriating coats of arms and trophies, weaponry, naval warships, public statuary and the costumes and regalia of state, Locke subtly critiques governmental authority, its iconographies and legacies. His Souvenir series of royal busts, including Souvenir 1 (Queen Victoria), (2018), are presented alongside re-workings of antique share certificates, obsolete documents referring to the turbulent history of colonial economies and their exploitative nature.

In Hinterland (2013), a reworked photograph of a statue of Queen Victoria in Georgetown, Guyana, Locke hints at the country’s tumultuous relationship with its past. Removed in 1970 and dumped in the undergrowth of Georgetown’s Botanical Gardens, the statue was subjected to a kind of dethroning, symptomatic of Guyana’s then burgeoning socialist republic, only to be reinstated in 1990 in front of the city’s Supreme Court of Judicature. Superimposed drawings refer to aspects of local history, such as the environmental impact of gold prospecting in Guyana (historically El Dorado), involving the influx of Brazilian miners and the forest-wide cross-border use of mercury.

Model ships and boats recur through the galleries as leitmotifs for the exhibition. Carriers of countless possible meanings, evoking centuries of warfare, trade and strategies of cultural imperialism, they also hold personal significance for the artist: "Here’s the thing: Guyana means ‘land of many waters’ – you are constantly aware of boats. I went to Guyana as a five-year-old kid on a boat. I came back here on a boat. So many things, good and bad, travel by sea.”

Exhibited at Ikon for the first time, the video installation The Tourists (2015) recasts Locke’s artistic intervention on board the British battle cruiser HMS Belfast. Active in the Korean War as well as World War 2, HMS Belfast visited the Caribbean in 1962, stopping at Trinidad on its final voyage. Locke conjures up an alternative history for the on-board museum mannequins, where we see them preparing costumes and props to take part in the Trinidad Carnival. The satirical gesture hints at an “exotic” alternative to the regimented daily life of sailors, whilst reminding us that ships launched in the name of western democracy and “civilisation” were essentially vehicles for unfair trade.

In this vein, the finale of the exhibition presents a flotilla of customised boats, comprised of a mixture of new ships and those featured in the installation On the Tethys Sea (2017), first shown in the Diaspora Pavilion in Venice. Suspended from the gallery ceiling, intricate decorations, talismans and greenery adorn these empty vessels – with crew and passengers as absent presences – immersing visitors in a submarine environment, at once dreamlike and poignant.

The exhibition will tour to Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas (12 September 2019 – 5 January 2020) and Colby Museum of Art, Maine (February – June 2020).

Ikon is open Tuesday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am - 5pm. Admission is free.

Exhibition Opening: 6-8pm, 8 March 2019

More details

Date(s)8 Mar - 2 Jun 2019
WebsiteVisit website
VenueIkon Gallery
Address1 Oozells Square, Birmingham, West Midlands,

Explore localWhat's on in Birmingham
 Local tourist information guide
Other eventsWhat's on at Ikon Gallery

Main photo may be copyright © Pelham

Nearest Hotels

Jurys Inn Birmingham


This modern Jurys Inn is in Birmingham city centre, within 150 metres of the International Convention Centre and the Barclaycard Arena. It has a bar, a restaurant, a coffee bar, and free Wi-Fi in all areas..

Postcode: B1 2HQ
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

Novotel Birmingham Centre


In Birminghams lively centre, the stylish Novotel has a modern fitness centre, spacious bedrooms and a stylish restaurant. The Bullring Shopping Centre is a 20-minute walk away..

Postcode: B1 2HT
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0.1 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

Easy Stay Apartments -


Situated a minutes walk from bustling Broad Street, Easy Stay Apartments offer fully equipped modern apartments with free WiFi throughout..

Postcode: B1 2LS
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0.1 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham


With a prestigious location at Brindley Place, just off Broad Street, the 4-star Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham offers omplimentary WiFi throughout..

Postcode: B1 2HW
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0.1 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

Cutlass Court


Situated 100 metres from Broad Street and 200 metres from Brindleyplace, Cutlass Court offers accommodation in Birmingham. The apartment is 300 metres from The ICC-Birmingham..

Postcode: B1 2LS
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0.1 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

Hyatt Regency Birmingham


In Birminghams centre, this modern 4-star hotel offers a luxury health spa with a pool and gym. Elegant rooms each have a flat-screen TV and there is a stylish restaurant and bar..

Postcode: B1 2JZ
Distance from Ikon Gallery:
0.2 miles

CHECK AVAILABILITYHotel details, map & prices

View all hotels near Ikon Gallery

Your comments:

comments powered by Disqus

Disclaimer: This event is not organised by BritEvents, and we cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information provided, errors, or omissions. Always check the information provided before you book tickets.

Event Details

Date8 Mar - 2 Jun 2019
Time(s)11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
VenueIkon Gallery
1 Oozells Square
West Midlands
Phone020 8969 3959


16 Jan 2019

Contact organiser

View full profile