A very interesting day at Ikon Gallery


I went to Deaf explorers event for young deaf creatives attending school. Ten pupils from Braidwood school for the Deaf arrived in a mini bus at 9.30 am. They study GCSE Art and the teacher highlighted a couple of the pupils work on his iPad. They were striking portraits with the brush work sculpting faces into three dimensional images on paper. The purpose of the event was to reach young people like this and show them successful deaf artists at various stages in their career,  and share with them the pathway to further training and freelance employment.

This deaf explorer event was also a learning experience for the artists, who had been mentored like other artists over the weekend by Rubbena Aurangzeb- Tariq to improve their presentation skills, understand how to respond to a brief, and gain confidence about talking to groups and running workshops. When I arrived the artists were talking about the purpose of their presentations and how they wanted the children to feel comfortable asking questions. Deaf Poet Donna Williams kicked off welcoming the pupils to the Gallery, and asking each person their name and asking who is their favourite artist and why, this was a great ice breaker, and enabled the pupils to describe their interest and study of art, that they continued with through out the morning. Next up in front of the school pupils was Olivier Jamon, who described the detail of how he made a living as an artist, selling art work on his website and the importance of having ideas for where to show and promote your art work. Olivier showed the hidden side to an artist and told the group about nurturing networks to support him to deliver artistic projects, like his hand drawn art work and stencil graffiti at Grand Central ( the new train station in Birmingham)

Oliveir Jamon, Olivia Davies and Donna Williams
Oliveir Jamon, Olivia Davies and Donna Williams

Another Olivia Davies a younger artist who has just completed her BA in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University successfully reached the pupils with her portraits, making a portrait for the day, a new work to present to the deaf children – a picture with her hair in her mouth, to define the difficulty sometimes with communication. Her subject matter of communication, vulnerability and analysing and re interpreting random phases on the internet about “speaking” told the pupils that you can make art work about your lived experience and bring this into your portraiture. Most of all it was exciting to see an artist present their first presentation, and for the children to be told this and have the opportunity to encourage and support an emerging artist just a few years older than themselves. the event was a learning experience for everyone involved and I am pleased to say it was a very interesting day at Ikon Gallery, not least because of Fiona Banner highly provocative and imaginative exhibition that continued to evoke discussion throught out all of Olivier Jamin excellent and detailed tour of the show in BSL.  Olivier Jamon successfully brought the concepts and ideas behind the artwork to the pupils so they felt they could engage and talk about the reason’s Fiona had chosen to make the art work in the way she has, Olivier provided the best guided tour I have seen and the fact it was in BSL was superfluous. Rubbena Aurangzeb – Tariq Olivier’s Mentor had sought to raise the bar, of BSL tours provided by Deaf Artists, pushing Olivier Jamin skills and ability upwards. It was amazing, how he brought the pupils closer to the art work on display. The day was unique as it brought together a confident group of deaf artists, at various stages i their career so they could learn together as peers, an art class of deaf young people inspired and stimulated by the approach of the deaf artists and of course a brilliant exhibition by Fiona Banner at Ikon Gallery. Go see it.

Title prompt by Robert Young Art Teacher at Braidwood School , from Thank you email after the event on 23 October 2015

Alan McLean (Deaf Explorer Team)

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