Janet Mendelsohn exhibition at Ikon Gallery


Janet Mendelsohn, Kathleen hanging out (c.1968). Black and white photographic print. Courtesy Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham.

This week I have been to Ikon Gallery to have a look at the exhibition Varna Road by the American documentary filmmaker Janet Mendelsohn.

Varna Road is part of a photo-essay made by Janet during 1967- 69 when she was a student at the University of Birmingham.

The photos were taken in the inner-city district of Balsall Heath, focusing in the daily routine of a particular woman referred to as Kathleen, a sex worker with whom Mendelsohn kept a close relationship.

It is also an incredible document about how inner-city parts of Birmingham looked like that time. A period that some parts of the city became notorious, affected already by the ongoing poverty-related issues.

 ” During the late 1960s Balsall Heath was Birmingham’s largest red light district, a place of work for some 200 prostitutes. Mendelsohn provides an extraordinary insight into these women’s lives, their domestics arrangements and personal relationships as well the nature of their profession.”


Janet Mendelsohn – Varna Road exhibition

27 January – 3 April 2016

Second Floor Galleries


Events and talks related to the exhibition:

Instameet – Balsall Heath Saturday 5 March, 11am–1pm – FREE Ikon holds an Instameet in Balsall Heath with IGersBirmingham, inspired by Janet Mendelsohn’s photographs of the area in the 1960s. Come and document contemporary Balsall Heath and the best photographs from the day will be chosen to feature in Ikon’s Archive Weekend (12–13 March). Booking essential.


Race, Prostitution and Cultural Studies: The post-war inner city through Janet Mendelsohn’s “social eye” Friday 18 March, 1–1.50pm – FREE Cadbury Research Library (Chamberlain Seminar Room), Muirhead Tower – LG Floor, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TT Dr Kieran Connell, Queen’s University Belfast, provides the historical context for Ikon’s exhibition by Janet Mendelsohn.

The talk gives an insight into a unique archival discovery of 100 prints, 3,000 negatives and interviews now housed at the Cadbury Research Library. Organised in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, part of the Arts and Science Festival 2016 (14–20 March). To book visit www.race-prostitutioncultural-studies.eventbrite.co.uk

Simone Ribeiro
Hi! I'm Simone, a citizen of Britain, where I live for over a decade, and of Brazil, where I was born. Midlands Traveller is where I combine my passion for travelling, business and an Eco-friendly lifestyle.

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