Thursday, 24 September 2015

At Home with Vanley Burke

Working at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham I am lucky enough to get to meet artists who exhibit there and I have to say that it's been an absolute joy and privilege to meet, work and get to know photographer Vanley Burke whose exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke draws to a close this coming weekend on 27th September.  The entire contents of Vanley's flat in Nechells were transferred to Ikon and set up exactly like his home so as you enter the first floor gallery you step into Vanley's hallway then move to his kitchen, bedroom, office, living room and even his balcony with all his plants. 

Vanley left Jamaica in 1965 with his parents at the age of 14 to come and live in Birmingham. He took his first photograph on a Kodak 127 Brownie given to him by his parents and this love of photography stayed with him establishing himself as one of the leading phtographers of black culture in Britain.  Here are just some of the images I have collected over the last few weeks of my favourite things in Vanley's flat.

Vanley's first camera

This is one of his old ones but you never see Vanley without his trademark trilby hat

Jamaican Rum

Just some of Vanley's video tapes recorded from his favourite TV programmes & films over the years

Just some of Vanley's vinyl record collection which we got to choose from and play everyday on his record player.   

One of Vanley's iconic images with his vast record collection in the background.

Khus-Khus perfume made in Jamaica which Vanley would dab behind his ears when he was in the gallery

Out of all the exhibitions I have ever worked on at Ikon this has got to be the one I  have enjoyed the most and we have have all got used to Vanley dropping in to his flat for a cup of his favourite Rooibus tea where he would often sit at his kitchen table playing dominoes and chatting to visitors. It really has been a pleasure . Vanley we will all miss you. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

I'm the Boss of Me

Being on holiday has kept me from posting on my blog but while I was away in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia I came across this pearl of wisdom in one of the many gift shops (a lot of Made in China tat the like of which you see in gift shops all over, in fact one shop even had a notice up saying 'Our souvenirs are NOT Made in China', but that said I came across many genuine artisanal and hand made souvenirs to bring home). I use witticisms and funny one-liners a lot in my work writing them in sketchbooks or  embroidering the words in wooden embroidery hoops to hang on the wall but I loved this one and thought how true it is, that everyone in their life should be their own boss and not be dictated to by others.