Project description

The former Oozells Street School (dating from 1878) has in its time been put to a variety of uses, including an infant school, a girls' grammar school, a theatrical costume hire department and a road tax office.

During the 1990s it was refurbished and converted into a contemporary arts venue, becoming the Ikon Gallery in 1998. It provides exhibition, workshop and seminar space.

The former school played a key role in the Brindley Place project and the wider regeneration of Birmingham city centre. The design process involved a close collaboration between client, architect and artist Tania Kovats.

Aims and Objectives

Ikon was set-up to encourage the public to engage in contemporary art.

Facilities and Services

The Ikon has an artistic programme consisting of three interdependent strands.

  • The gallery features temporary exhibitions over two floors totalling 450 square metres (4,844 sq ft). A variety of media are represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation
  • There is also an off-site programme which helps develop dynamic relationships between art, artists and the audience outside the gallery. The projects and events vary enormously in scale, duration and type of location, challenging expectations of where art can be seen and by whom
  • Education is at the heart of the Ikon's activities, stimulating public interest in, and understanding of, contemporary visual art. Through a variety of talks, tours, workshops and seminars, the education and interpretation programme recognises that artistic expression can empower people, heightening individual and community experience.

Business/operational model

Ikon is a limited company registered as an educational charity. Ikon receives core funding from Arts Council England West Midlands and Birmingham City Council. It raises additional income from a variety of sources, including charitable trusts, foundations and corporate sponsorship.

Financing and delivery/procurement

The cost of the conversion was partly funded by a grant from the National Lottery. The arrival of the Lottery in 1994 meant that the scheme had a realistic chance of going ahead and at a more sophisticated level.


Contact details

Ikon Gallery
1 Oozells Square
Birmingham B1 2HS
T: 0121 248 0708
F: 0121 248 0709


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