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Birmingham's Ikon has opened two new exhibitions in their galleries this week, with a playful and thought-provoking solo exhibition from Dion Kitson, and an immersive staging of the National Gallery's masterpiece, Artemisia Gentileschi's Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Marking the Bicentenary of London's National Gallery collection - Friday 10 May - the institution has created 'National Treasures', a programme loaning masterpieces to galleries around the UK, and giving host galleries the opportunity to display the works in their own unique ways. Ikon have brought in contemporary Irish artist Jesse Jones to build an immersive installation around Gentileschi's painting, Mirror Martyr Mirror Moon.

The exhibition has a devotional atmosphere, with a gauze curtain circling the room, film and sound filling the space, and spotlighted iconography glowing in the darkness. At the centre of the room is the Gentileschi itself - its detail and elegance given space to be fully appreciated.

Every Thursday and Saturday an hour is given to a unique water ritual - an eye-cure, which prepares visitors for an 'encounter' with the portrait. The sacred water used in the ritual was collected by anthropologist Sara O’Rourke, from a 7th Century Irish holy well in the village of Brandon, County Kerry, which has a folk history of healing properties.

Jesse Jones spoke to What's On about her process creating the exhibition, and her interview can be read here.

In the Gallery upstairs, and in complete contrast to the space below, is a major solo exhibition from Dion Kitson. Kitson's sculptural protraits of everyday life, heavily inspired by his childhood in Dudley, offer an insight into his ability to transform mundane items, ideas and symbols into art. 

Kitson's work plays with found artefacts - turning school rulers into a music box, and using scratched bus stop glass as a plate for drypoint etching. In removing items from the real world, and placing them into a gallery setting, Kitson is pulling the gallery away from imperious mystery, and instead celebrating real-life experiences and wide reaching cultural touchstones. 

The centre of the gallery contains a standard pub pool table, ready to be played, described by Kitson as an 'ice-breaker' - included to coax the gallery space further away from stuffy silence. Visitors might like to give themselves the challenge of using a cue which is a hybrid mop, itself a perfect and witty image of British pub culture.

Kitson's exhibition is launched in tandem with Silver Lining, a residency at J.W. Evans Silver factory, 20 minutes walk away, in the Jewellery Quarter. Here Kitson continues his subtle celebration of the mundane amongst the artefacts of the museum - a hidden gem showcasing Birmingham's working class and industrial history.