For ten years Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) has steered Slow Boat around the canals of the West Midlands and beyond. A converted narrow boat, it is a unique floating space for IYP, local communities and artists to make and experience art in a stimulating and creative environment. With the support of Freelands Foundation, over the next three years (2021-2024) IYP will continue to navigate the waterways, collaborating with creative thinkers and makers to reimagine Slow Boat as a local art school. Set against the backdrop of funding cuts to arts education, we will expand the alternative curriculum offered by IYP, raising fundamental questions concerning the definition and relevance of art. “Support from Freelands Foundation affirms our belief as young people that an alternative arts education is integral to our learning. We hope to generate new ways of thinking that will result in positive conversations with art schools, transforming social narratives and building on radical histories that reflect our everyday experiences. We are all looking forward to the future discourse around this project, including the changing space of Slow Boat; a space of provocation, a space of transformation, a space of us.” Ikon Youth Programme, Birmingham.

In the first year, members of IYP will be introduced to various histories, materials and processes, including painting, sculpting, printmaking, ceramics and glassblowing. Just as local art schools of the 19th & 20th Century provided formative educational experiences for artists, designers, educators and activists, we envisage Slow Boat playing this role for many more young people. The Slow Boat Summer School 2021 Programme (July-August) involves a number of workshops with artist tutors: John Yeadon’s arts education started in the 1960s with a Pre-Diploma at Burnley Municipal College and School of Art, followed by Diploma at Hornsey College of Art and an MA from the Royal College of Art. A painter and printmaker, who has also worked in banner-making, theatre design, digital media and music, Yeadon taught members of the Blk Art Group at Coventry University, including Keith Piper with whom Yeadon has work in our current exhibition A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s. johnyeadon.com With an MFA from Birmingham School of Art, Betsy Bradley is working towards her first major solo exhibition at Ikon, Chasing Rainbows (3 December 2021 — 13 February 2022). Bradley will run workshops for Coventry City’s Council’s Through Care service for looked after children and care leavers aged 12-25. Together with IYP they will produce a radical new design for Slow Boat’s painted exterior. betsy-bradley.co.uk Monica Perez Vega has an MFA in Painting from Slade School of Fine Art, a studio at Old Print Works, Balsall Heath and teaches Art and Design Technology at Tudor Grange Academy Kinghurst, Birmingham. Her students will work with IYP to paint an adaptable flag for Slow Boat based on the work of Vega’s former tutors, Lisa Milroy and Graham Gussin, included in A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s. monicaperezvega.com In collaboration with the artist tutors, IYP will curate their own public events, including Slow Boat’s launch (22 July), with a DJ set by Saffiyah Khan, former member of IYP and performer with seminal two-tone band The Specials. They will also organise public events with Celebrating Sanctuary for Ikon’s fourth Migrant Festival (19 – 22 August) and film screenings with Flatpack Festival for the August bank holiday weekend (28 – 30 August). “The removal of art from school curriculums has significantly influenced IYP which, since it began in 2010, has offered members an alternative to mainstream education and a means of creative expression. With the support of Freelands Foundation, we are able to expand Slow Boat’s reach to communities and celebrate the radical history of the Arts and Crafts movement, the architecture of which lines the canals and underscores the diverse cultural ecology of the West Midlands.” Linzi Stauvers, Head of Learning, Ikon.

“We are delighted to support Slow Boat, and excited to see this innovative alternative art school get underway on the canals of Birmingham and the West Midlands. Ikon have long delivered exceptional art education programmes, and we hope this flagship project will continue to energise and enthuse young people in the Midlands to embrace the long tradition of making and creative practice in the region.” Henry Ward, Creative Director, Freelands Foundation For more information, high-res images and to request interviews please contact Rebecca Small or Laura Jaunzems on 0121 248 0708 or email r.small@ikon-gallery.org or l.jaunzems@ikon-gallery.org Social Media - Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @ikongallery #IkonGallery @FreelandsF Links: ikon-gallery.org freelandsfoundation.co.uk Visiting Ikon: Entry is free. To book a ticket or for more information on current opening times and visiting guidelines please visit ikon-gallery.org

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