Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics courtesy of Ikon Gallery
On Wednesday 6th December, Ikon Gallery will unveil two new exhibitions: Edmund Clark: In Place of Hate, and the first UK exhibition of work by convict artist Thomas Bock (1793-1855). Both exhibitions are free to enter and will be on display until 11th March 2018.
Thomas Bock was born in Birmingham and trained here as an engraver and miniaturist. However, in 1823, he was found guilty of ‘administering concoctions of certain herbs … with the intent to cause miscarriage’ and was sentenced to transportation to Australia for 14 years. It was in Tasmania that Bock developed his role as convict artist; he was commissioned to document the penal system, prison life and the many executions that took place there.
However, the exhibition at Ikon will showcase his portraits of Aboriginal people which he took during his time in Tasmania. Portraits during this period depicting Aboriginal people often focus on their powerlessness during the British settlement; their indigenousness is founded upon this. It will be interesting to see how Bock – as a marginalized British convict – portrayed individuals and families living in Tasmania at the time.
For more on the Thomas Bock exhibition, visit www.ikon-gallery.org/event/thomas-bock
Concurrently, Ikon Gallery will be hosting In Place of Hate by Edmund Clark. Edmund Clark is Ikon’s official artist-in-residence at HMP Grendon in Buckinghamshire, a role he has been in since 2014 and will continue to produce work in conjunction with the gallery until 2018.
Edmund Clark: In Place of Hate is a culmination of his time at Europe’s only entirely therapeutic prison and will display a series of installations, photographs and videos which will engage with his experiences therein. Established in 1962, HMP Grendon uses a democratic and utilitarian approach to the prison system, asking the inmates to accept their punishment and to take responsibility for their offence. On Ikon Gallery’s website for this exhibition, it states that ‘evidence shows that Grendon has delivered lower levels of violence in prison and reduced instances of re-offence after release’.
Edmund Clark: In Place of Hate has the potential to be an exhibition that invites speculation on the effectiveness of the current prison system as well, as a reflection the artists differing experiences of the prison system.
There is, of course, a world of separation between transportation to Australia 200 years ago and a residency at HMP Grendon, but by bringing these two artists together the questions of crime, punishment and rehabilitation are opened up – making a rare shared context in which to interpret their work.
For more on Edmund Clark: In Place of Hate, visit www.ikon-gallery.org/event/edmund-clark
For more on Edmund Clark. visit www.edmundclark.com
For more from Ikon Gallery, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.ikon-gallery.org