At Home With Vanley Burke

At Home with Vanley Burke

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

22nd July 2015 – 27th September 2015

At home with Vanley Burke is an astounding and most personal exhibition that Vanley Burke has ever exhibited. This exhibition is pioneering and the conception of this exhibition is strongly introducing visitors to Black British culture, art, taste and home interior. Which is long overdue, this exhibition is defiantly not to be missed. In future this exhibition should become a part of established museum. Like many homes of important past historians. But hang on a minute, Vanley Burke is very much a alive and he needs his tings to live with him at present. So go in enjoy the experience of seeing this exhibition or buy the book.

On entering this exhibition on the first floor at the Ikon Gallery the exhibition has the entire home contents. Vanley’s own authentic artwork and his controversial and defining photography. In other rooms there is large scale portraits and drawings including a Barbara Walker, framed newspaper articles, posters, African textiles prints, and West Indian woodcraft. In the background, the sounds of BBC radio five is playing in the kitchen. On the small television and VHS player is Grease The Movie in the lounge. Occasionally classic reggae and Ska tunes playing in the background. There are typical useful items seen in someone’s home, but it’s a humble abode and atmosphere to visit.

The exhibition is pioneering that gives scope and insight of Black British people and home life to a new generation of art followers and collectors. It is highlighted and it identifies in history that Black British arts and home interior design is not recognised in fact it is grossly ignored by media, commercial retailers, national high street galleries based in the UK.

This exhibition is relevant and current displays an example of the majority of black people’s homes or visiting family and friends homes and how they were decorated. When they first arrived from the West Indies, or grew up in the UK and those like myself born in UK from the 1950’s.

Prior to entering the Ikon gallery you can see a vast range of classic music collection from The Diskery one of the best vinyl record shops in Birmingham displayed in the Gallery gift shop.

But it should be noted the diverse range of visitors, to this exhibition whom have been fortunate to sometimes to see Vanley present at the exhibition. Vanley has been hands-on informing visitors, making sure the maintenance of his home contents are well taken care of and preserved to a high standard.

Throughout the duration of this exhibition Vanley has occasionally visited his exhibition guiding invigilators. The celebration of the life work for Vanley Burke has featured spoken word performances by established national and local Black British poets and performances at the private view, and Vanley the main focus in notable artist talks lead by talented musician Soweto Kinch. Vanley teaching weekend photography workshops and seated at controversial event monitored by Marlene Smith with highly esteemed curator, writer and artist Eddie Chambers in a radical conversation with forward thinking artist/curator Morgan Quaintance.

It is good to meet a living Artist who gives critical information to their lives work. In meeting Vanley he is out rightly professional, informative and kind.

This exhibition has been awesome and will be missed by its visitors who have learnt and embrace Black British culture and art. This is an exhibition that gives insight and a education. @vanleyburke

© Gina Smith