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Idris Khan’s art comes back home to Walsall Art Gallery


‘The Beginning’ by Idris Khan. Photo credit: Nilupa Yasmin.

By Scott Francis

INTERNATIONALLY renowned artist Idris Khan has returned home to Walsall Art Gallery.

Khan’s ‘A World Within’ exhibition opened on February 3 and is a collection photographs, glass works and glass sculptures.

The exhibition includes works such as ‘Seven Times’ and sculptural work ‘The Beginning’ which is being shown in the UK for the first time.

The signature style of the artist is to take images or ink and overlap them several times to create pieces which show movement and life.

He was born in Birmingham in 1978, but lived with his parents and went to school in Walsall for the majority of his childhood years.

Deborah Robinson, head of exhibitions, said: “Idris came to Walsall with his parents and went to Walsall College.

“We are delighted to bring him home, he now lives in London and is a major international artist who has been shown to all of the world.

“It’s really inspirational to be able to bring him here back to Walsall to show people here really that you can achieve great things with hard work and talent.


Khan’s work has also been used as an inspirational and educational tool for children.

As part of Meadow Arts Inspires learning programme children have been given the chance to visit art works and exhibitions, including ‘A World Within’ and an artist works with the children to make a bespoke project for their school.

Year 3 and 4 Bosbury Primary School children visited the exhibition and created a piece of work for a project.

Rebecca Farkas, marketing and engagement Manager at Meadow Arts said: “It is a great to take a group of children to an exhibition which they may not usually get the opportunity to see.

“The children go together with an artist and get to look and discuss the materials used in the exhibitions.

“We find that people can find it daunting to go and see art, so by taking children at a young age it provides the opportunity for them to feel comfortable to see art later on in life.

“It is a really good educational tool and provides the children with skills.”

‘Autonomy’ Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London, © Idris Khan

Khan has also gained new fans through his exhibition at Walsall Art Gallery.

Nilupa Yasmin, 21, photography undergraduate at Coventry University said: “I wasn’t familiar with his work or style until I visited the gallery and later searched him up for my own research.

“However, I have become a fan.

“I really like how he explores his dual heritage in his work, embracing every part of him into his art to both educate and inform others.

“The way the exhibit shows this gradual process of his working style is really effective.

“You start with a taste of his earliest work and the same style is still with him when you’ve entered the final room with his most recent work.”

You can join Idris Khan to discuss his work at Walsall Art Gallery for In Conversation’ for £3 on March 23.

Who is Idris Khan?

Idris Khan was born in Birmingham, West Midlands in 1978 and grew up and went to school in the Black Country town of Walsall.

Khan also studied at the University of Derby in 2001 and at the Royal College of Art for an MA in 2004.

The artist now lives in London.

He is now an internationally recognised artist who has had exhibitions commissioned in London, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and he created a large public monument in Abu Dhabi.

Idris Khan’s work has now been brought home to Walsall Art Gallery, the town where he spent his early years at school and at college.

‘A Grey Bucket’ Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London, © Idris Khan

In the museum’s guide the exhibition is described as, “something of a homecoming, enabling the Gallery to celebrate Khan’s success and to inspire young people from the region.”

When you visit the ‘A World Within’ exhibition you can see Khan’s personality and Muslim heritage come through in his art work.

Although a non-practising Muslim, Khan uses his heritage in his art he photographed every page of Qur’an and created an overlapped photography piece. Also, after being inspired by the Kaaba found in Mecca he created ‘Seven Times’ which are boxes with Holy Prayers overlapping one another.

The reason the piece is called ‘Seven Times’ is because during the pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims must circle the Kaaba seven times.

Ms Robinson described ‘Seven Times’ as “combining minimalist purity of minimalistic art and the spiritualism and gravity of the Muslim faith.”

What do you think?