Presently | Curated by Feargal O'Malley, 7 February - 29 March 2014
Presently | An exhibition of Contemporary Artists from Northern Ireland
Gordon Ashbridge, Christopher James Burns, Stuart Calvin, Ian Cumberland, Craig Donald, Fiona Finnegan, Eimear Friers, Ben Groves, Angela Halliday, Dorothy Hunter, Aisling Kane, Miguel Martin, Tim Millen, Brian J. Morrison, Blaine O’Donnell, Eamon Quinn, Peter Spiers, Anne Marie Taggart
Curated by Feargal O’Malley
Exhibition 7 February - 29 March 2014
Opening Thursday 6 February, 7pm
Presently showcases new work from eighteen emerging contemporary artists, currently working in Northern Ireland. Exhibited work ranges from sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and film to installation and multidisciplinary work. Presently is accompanied by a new limited edition broadsheet style publication which includes an introductory essay by Ciara Hickey.
Download Presently Broadsheet
Working in partnership with MCAC, Visual Artist's Ireland will run a series of information sessions, curator and artist talks on Saturday 1 March at MCAC.
For more information about exhibiting artists follow the links to their individual websites:
Gordon Ashbridge, Christopher James Burns, Stuart Calvin, Ian Cumberland, Craig Donald, Fiona Finnegan, Eimear Friers, Ben Groves, Angela Halliday, Dorothy Hunter, Aisling Kane, Miguel Martin, Tim Millen, Brian J. Morrison, Blaine O’Donnell, Eamon Quinn, Peter Spiers, Anne Marie Taggart
Michael Hanna: Behaviour Setting, 7 December - 25 January 2014
Exhibition Launch 6 December, 7pm. Runs 7 December – 25 January 2014. Artist's talk, Saturday 14 December at MCAC from 2pm - for more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“A psychologist at a girl’s college asked the members of his class to compliment any girl wearing red. Within a week the cafeteria was a blaze of red. None of the girls were aware of being influenced, although they did notice that the atmosphere was more friendly…” – W. Lambert Gardiner, Psychology: A Story of a Search
Emerging, Northern Irish artist Michael Hanna has been commissioned by Millennium Court Arts Centre and awarded ACES* funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to produce a new body of work and exhibition, Behaviour Setting.
Behaviour Setting has developed from a year’s residency at MCAC. Using installation with film Hanna’s work ventures into the fields of manipulation, perception, space and patterns of behaviour; his research crossing disciplines, from environmental and behavioural psychology to planning discourse, in order to create a visual language of control. Hanna is interested in behaviour and its links to external environmental factors.
In his work the artist appropriates evocative materials like acoustic foam and perforated steel with tactile art materials; wet clay, rubber and plastics. These are integrated with video projection and animation. During his residency Hanna has conducted research, including a series of curated auditory and sensory events for the public in a number of private spaces throughout the large Millennium Court complex. Building on site-specific knowledge the artist has planned an intervention on the scale of the galleries and foyer to subtly transform the immediate environment of the Arts Centre itself.
Hanna’s work has been described as showing a healthy disregard for institutional boundaries between disciplines**. Emerging from a sculptural background at Edinburgh College of Art and MFA at University of Ulster his practice draws on diverse research from linguistics to psychology. Likewise Behaviour Setting is an installation to be experienced, where the bounds are ambiguous. This large scale solo exhibition represents a new stage in the career of this emerging artist who has previously exhibited solo at Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast and will be presenting a new work as part of Derry-Londonderry City of Culture in December 2013.
A publication will accompany the exhibition with essay by Dr Declan Long.
* Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES)
** Dazed and Confused, Converse Highlight of the Week, June 2013
Michael Hanna (b.1979, Craigavon, Northern Ireland) completed his MFA at the University of Ulster, 2012 and recently undertook residencies at the Golden Thread Gallery (GTG) and Digital Art Studios (DAS) in Belfast. He graduated with BA (Hons) in Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art,2009. Hanna has been involved in exhibitions in the UK and internationally including Futures at Elephant Gallery, Los Angeles and Instances of Agreement at the Kao Yuan Arts Centre, Taiwan. He has exhibited in group shows including Oscillator, Science Gallery, Dublin, 2013 and as a solo artist, Calculated Error, GTG, Belfast 2012. www.michaelhanna.org
Hanna discussing his work at Science Gallery Dublin, 2013
Brigitte Zieger: Wallpapered 5 Oct - 23 Nov
Millennium Court Arts Centre is delighted to present an exhibition of large scale animation and film by German artist Brigitte Zieger.
Zieger employs a range of media from drawing and cut-out to video and sculpture. Though her work may initially appear ideal and harmonious this perception disintegrates upon closer examination – explosive charges lurk everywhere. In this exhibition of work entitled Wallpapered Zieger comments on the relationship between world events and the process of interpreting and conveying information via the Media. Collecting motifs and images online and also using press photographs from newspapers and television news she incorporates this source material into her diverse, exquisitely animated ‘wallpapers’ and ‘tapestries’.
The aesthetic for these works draws on Toile de Jouy. Original 18th century Toile wallpapers often comprised elaborate imagery expressing commentary on contemporary society and the political events of the day. These dioramas could include vast vistas depicting colonized countries, with intimations of conquest, the exotic and endemic violence – their form sometimes reading like a comic strip. Zieger’s animations extend and develop the form. In her wallpapers kitsch, bucolic scenes become dangerously populated by threatening objects or people who move in and out of the scenery. The animation, Bewildered, presents an infinite rolling panoramic view in the heart of an imaginary forest (such as those described in the 'colonial period' and often depicted in 18th century wallpapers) – a scene of nature reclaiming the political landscape.
The juxtaposition of familiar domestic décor and potentially violent action or destruction provides a perfect metaphor for the presence of news within the privacy of the home – a disturbing background to daily life. Zieger’s richly textured work presents many possibilities and seeks to question what exactly we put in our homes, on our walls and what realities these help to soften and mask.
About the Artist:
Brigitte Zieger is a Paris-based German artist whose work embraces a range of media. She has shown internationally in numerous exhibitions including Abracadabra, Tate Gallery London (1999), Prop Fiction, White Columns New York (1997), Bang ! Bang ! at CCA Kunsthalle Andratx Mallorca (2011), Fabulations et Vagabondages, Contemporary Art Center Villa du Parc in Annemasse (2005) and Tirs Reloaded/Pacific Standard Time, Here is Elsewhere Gallery Los Angeles (2012). Recent Solo Shows include Women are Different from Men, Odile Ouizeman Gallery in Paris (2011), Counter-Memories at Weigand Gallery in Berlin (2012) and with Kara Walker, Shadow's Dream the Man, l'Aître St.Maclou Rouen (2010).
Figure: Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture curated by Mike Robinson, August - September 2013
Pat Connor, Michael Flynn, Christy Keeney, Lucy Meagher, Peter Meanley, Ann Marie Robinson and Alex Scott. Curated by Mike Robinson
“The pot mantelpiece figure and the more pretentious porcelain figurine in its crinoline frock, that grandma kept locked in the corner cabinet, are familiar to all. Well, times have changed…they (figurative ceramics) are no longer mere twee sentimental decorations. They have also grown in stature and can be literally larger than life. They may attract, amuse and entertain, but they are just as willing and able to challenge, shock, even offend if that is what it takes to get the message across.” Mike Robinson, Curator
Figure brings together seven contemporary artists from Northern and Southern Ireland working in the field of figurative ceramic sculpture. This exhibition which is curated by Mike Robinson includes work by Pat Connor, Michael Flynn, Christy Keeney, Lucy Meagher, Peter Meanley, Ann Marie Robinson and Alex Scott. These artists and makers have been chosen not simply because they are all preeminent in their field, but also because they clearly demonstrate the importance of Ceramic in contemporary art.
Historically, the human figure has represented the most commonly addressed form in sculpture. From the 1950s forward, abstract and non-representational modes of thinking became critical to sculptors and representing the figure in more literal terms fell largely out of fashion. Recently, many artists have returned to the figure but in decidedly contemporary terms, embracing a range of aesthetics and themes.
Figure considers a wide variety of formal and conceptual approaches in Contemporary Ceramics, from more literal terms to those which are implied or symbolically stated. The exhibition opens with the “pot” figure as something familiar, something to warm to, even laugh at and moves through to the decorative. From there Figure ventures into what may be unfamiliar ceramic territory exploring self (anxiety, obsession, desire, dreams) and the expression of, through myth or abstraction, “beliefs and notions essential to us that may escape description let alone definition”.
Commissioned as part of August Craft Month 2013 and influenced by the strength and variety of the figurative tradition, this exhibition explores the contemporary figure from objects to installations, while surveying a broad spectrum of concepts, forms and materials.
A publication (in August) and four part lecture series by Mike Robinson (September) will accompany the exhibition.
Anthony Haughey: Citizen 13 April - 30 May 2013
The border in Ireland has been historically marked with signs of conflict and sectarian division (the subject of the artist’s earlier work, Disputed Territory (2006). It has been documented and defined culturally in literature, art and filmic representations. Yet it is easy to forget that the border is also an international boundary. There are no fences or passport control; a more subtle and pervasive form of surveillance is used instead. For migrants, the border is part of ‘Fortress Europe’ where they are subjected to the vagaries of European immigration policies.
Borders and transnational migration has been a major theme of Haughey’s art practice for more than twenty-years. Although his work has encompassed a wide range of subjects, he has continually returned to this on-going investigation of what Saskia Sassen describes as ‘informal citizenship’, where migrants contest the right to move freely across borders in search of a better life. The movement of people across continents, seas and oceans is no longer fixed to a specific sense of place; migrants exist in-between states, attempting to negotiate citizenship with reluctant hosts. Despite the current economic crisis, migration is a global phenomenon that is here to stay.
Haughey has worked collaboratively with individuals and groups who have left their countries of origin in the most urgent of times, many are living in temporary Reception Centre’s such as Mosney, near Drogheda for more than seven-years. Others are living on the periphery of European cities, near harbours in derelict buildings and squatter camps, and in forests behind six-metre high razor wire fences in North Africa waiting for an opportunity to enter ‘El Dorado’, the Spanish enclaves of Cueta and Melilla. Migrants are variously described by as refugees, asylum seekers, illegal aliens and sans papiers, stateless figures relegated to new spaces described by Giorgio Agamben as ‘camps’ or non-spaces located within state boundaries, and yet outside. The camp is a 'space of exception' within and without national space, where rights afforded to citizens of the state are suspended.
Through a series of long-term encounters, and in many cases close personal relationships Haughey and a growing collective of migrants from all over the world have collaborated to produce video installations, photographs, texts and performances. These transformative actions set out to dispel myths and reductive stereotyping surrounding transnational migration. Instead, migrants reclaim their agency and participate as active ‘informal citizens’.
Bio: Anthony Haughey is an artist and a lecturer in the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he supervises doctoral practice-based projects. He was a Research Fellow (2005-8) at the Interface Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design at the University of Ulster Belfast, where he completed a PhD in 2009. His art practice works from the premise of a principal situatedness of art in place and community and its connectedness through dialogic exchange. His work has been widely exhibited internationally, most recently in Belfast Exposed, where he was nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize, Künstlerhaus S11, Solothurn, Switzerland, Helsinki Photography Biennial, the Copper House Gallery Dublin, New York Photography Festival and the Korea Foundation in Seoul. Monographs include The Edge of Europe (1996), Disputed Territory (2006) and an artist’s book, State (2011) with German artist Susanne Bosch. His work is represented in many international public and private art collections. He has published several chapter contributions including, (2010)Dislocations: Participatory Media with Refugees in Ireland and Malta, in Goodnow, K and Skartveit, H L. (eds) Changes in Museum Practice New Media and Refugees: Forms and Issues of Participation, Berghahn and (2007) Imaging the Unimaginable, in Grossman, A. and O’Brien, A. (eds) Projecting Migration, Transcultural Documentary Practice, London: Wallflower Press. Haughey is currently researching a project, for the centenary of the Dublin 1913 Lockout and editing a publication, Art, Media and Contested Space.
Emma Donaldson: Trouble = Progress 8 Feb - 30 Mar 2013
Exhibition Launch - Thursday 7 February from 7 pm
‘How can all the world’s glorious “technicolour phenomenology arise from soggy grey matter?”’ (Philosopher Colin McGinn quoted in catalogue essay*)
How do we occupy space? What do we mean by the body? What is it that makes us who we are and does it exist within, or without? In an exhibition of new work, Trouble = Progress at Millennium Court Arts Centre, artist and ACES (Arts Council of Northern Ireland and their Artists Career Enhancement Programme) recipient Emma Donaldson attempts to disentangle these metaphysical questions in sculpture, installation, video, writing and drawing. The forms created are both beautiful and enigmatic.
Donaldson’s work teases out the relationship between the physical body as a vessel and what she refers to as the “mental armatures” (formed by experience) that shape our perception of self; the enduring philosophical mind-body problem. Her work is about mapping the unchartered landscape of the psyche and mental processing; how we receive, transfer and lose information. Through a process of experimentation she creates new forms to articulate fleeting and ephemeral experiences, and to visualise processes of thought and memory. The work also situates itself in the real physical world, in architectural spaces, the street and the landscape outside the artist’s studio window.
LP1 V, 2012 a structure with flickering and sequenced flashing light bulbs, like synapses, seek to capture the essence and dynamics of thought. Similarly the 5 meter hanging piece, entitled Stacked may be seen as representing a train of thought or perhaps the layering up of experience. Other sculptures, with their softness and precarious balance on attenuated plinthes allude to anxiety or instability. The watercolour sketches meanwhile demonstrate development of ideas and themes within the work itself over a period of 12 months; recurring circular motifs that are later realised in three dimensions. And, through a written text piece and accompanying video work Donaldson takes the viewer on a sensory walk, through a home and into the outside world. She performs a topoanalysis of a familiar place to investigate how real physical space affects memory creating mental armatures that contribute to perception and behaviour. The trouble of the title alludes perhaps to the fact that any progress is hard won, non-linear and messy.
“Clean bricks are made of mud, we need them for our tower”. (Thomas Kinsella from Nightwalker, quoted in catalogue essay*)
-- A publication will accompany the exhibition, new essay by Gemma Tipton.
This exhibition has been made possible through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and their Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES).
Artist’s Bio: Studied painting at Wimbledon School of Art, Royal College of Art in London, University of Houston and Histories and Theories of Architecture at the AA, London. She has exhibited at both solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally: Queens Street Studios, 2010, Golden Thread Gallery, 2009, Context Gallery Derry, 2006 Central Space London, 2002, 49 Broadway Market, London, 2001, Veneer/Folheado, Galerie Ze de Bois, Lisbon, 2004, Musuem of Arab Contemporary Art, Sharjah, UAE, 2003
Crystalline 1 Dec 2012 - 26 Jan 2013
To coincide with the exploration of sub-glacial Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica this winter Millennium Court Arts Centre presents Crystalline, an exhibition of work by both internationally known artists and local practicing artists, graduates & postgraduates living or working throughout Northern Ireland. The exhibition incorporates pieces submitted through Open Submission and by invitation, and the work explores the twin themes of scientific endeavour and the landscape of Antarctica, the latter of which has proved unfalteringly seductive to artists. Working in various disciplines the artists represented in Crystalline cover many facets of Antarctic exploration, teasing out aspects of the barren terrain, seemingly devoid of colour, sound and life, and the inverted sub-glacial landscape below the surface.
The Frozen Laboratory: There is a powerful trope associated with Antarctica portraying it as blank, politically neutral, pristine territory. It is free from a history of warfare and turmoil. Its environment is uncompromisingly resistant to permanent human habitation and colonisation. In 1959 the Antarctic Treaty was signed making the entire continent a science reserve and ensuring that no one country could claim sovereignty. Antarctica may therefore be viewed as the world’s largest living laboratory. Lake Ellsworth, which is the site for drilling by a British team this winter 2012, lies beneath the continental ice sheet in West Antarctica and it is hoped that the ancient water therein will reveal information about the earth, life and the environment.
Time in the Antarctic is generally comprehended in geological epochs rather than by human timescale. Roy and Kathryn Nelson examine this concept through materials and processes that demonstrate a physical accumulation of time. Belinda Loftus’s work references the extreme conditions for life in Antarctica while Joanne Proctor’s drawings obliquely point towards the origins of life and by extension the idea that exploration may yield new discovery. It is thought that conditions in Antarctica’s subglacial lakes may demonstrate how microbial life can exist in extreme conditions, similar to those on other planets and moons in the solar system. David Hamilton’s paintings seem to point both to the cosmos and the ice sheet.
As a counterpoint to the celebratory nature of scientific discovery Heather Fleming’s work looks at the mechanics and practicalities of endeavour in a harsh environment, the fleeting traces through snow and ice and the covert scramble for resources (in this case oil). This complicates the neutral laboratory by suggesting that scientific knowledge and technology may be appropriated for commercial gain.
Works by Dorothy Cross, Jana Winderen and Ruth le Gear represent art made on location in extreme conditions. Cross’s monochromatic film piece, rendered in negative, shows a group of deep sea divers in the icy, crystal waters of Antarctica. Her work also seems to reference the early history of human exploration in the Antarctic, motivated by commerce through hunting of seals and whales. This precipitated the later age of heroic exploration (1895-1917) in the continent, an idea explored in the paintings of Damien Flood. Before it was mapped and charted Antarctica was a place between fact and fiction (Terra Australis Incognita), speculated about since the second century but not seen until the nineteenth. Flood’s fantastical landscape paintings reveal his curiosity about these expeditions, and the struggles and hardships that accompany voyages in search of undiscovered, foreign or otherworldly landscapes.
Through sculptural assemblage Shelby Woods reflects on the inhospitable landscape as the ideal location to gain objectivity on the human condition, on loneliness and mortality. Similarly through painting Anna Marie Savage probes the state of solitude. Antarctica, perhaps due to its ‘blankness’ and sublime landscape is also a tabula rasa on to which imagination is projected. Claire Muckian’s micro-scale sculptural work is derived from satellite imagery of subglacial lakes and posits the lake as a metaphor for creativity – hidden pockets of imagination in everyday contexts. Mark Joyce’s paintings meanwhile revel in the crystalline sharpness of light in a cold climate, inspired by time spent in Iceland.
Jana Winderen’s work merges with scientific research – using advanced sound recording technology Winderen records in crevasses of glaciers, in fjords and in the open ocean of the frozen north. Weaving together these hidden sounds into complex soundscapes she reveals the rich complexities and strangeness of the world beneath. Ruth le Gear, who recently completed a residency in the Arctic Circle (another extreme environment), is strongly attracted by the scientific method behind investigation of non-physical phenomena and conversely the requirement of investigating fictional scenarios to understand more about the self – ideas she explores in these two exhibited films.
Dorothy Cross, Antarctica shown by kind permission of the artist and the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. Mark Joyce and Damien Flood shown by kind permission of the artists and Green on Red Gallery, Dublin. Jana Winderen, work used with kind permission of the artist and publisher Touch Music.
Victoria J Dean: The Fortified Coastline 6 Oct - 24 Nov 2012
For this new body of work Victoria J. Dean focuses on the built environment of the coastline. Two years in the making, Dean circumnavigated and documented the entire coastline of the island of Ireland to further investigate the theme of our human compulsion to rationalise space.
Dean’s work highlights the many overlooked, often absurd or jarring aspects of the contemporary coastal environment. She records the different eras of seaside architecture in their various states of regeneration and disrepair: from the brutal whimsy of public lavatories, totalitarian bus shelters and architectural flourishes in concrete to ‘temporary’ containers, pared back promenades resembling prison perimeters and modern, functional leisure areas. With a sometimes bemused eye she also records the plethora of regulations and health and safety warnings that line areas along the coast. According to Dean, “the various fortifications including urban furniture, encourage us to survey the natural environment from the safety of the man-made, be it from behind a wall, or from a bench”. While many fortifications and signs do have sound environmental and safety purposes the sheer abundance and caution (in safeguarding) may appear as nothing more than the crooked index finger of a nanny state.
Fortified Coastline asks the viewer to reconsider these familiar landscapes of leisure. It highlights a tension between nature and the encroachment of human development on the landscape but even further it emphasises the attempt to control human behaviour in these spaces. Through meticulous documentation Dean’s work attempts to create a new iconography of coastal spaces.
This exhibition has been made possible through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and their Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES).
About the Artist: Dean graduated in 2003 with BA (Hons) Photography from Blackpool and the Fylde College. She is a member of Young Photographers United and was selected in 2007 for PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch. Dean has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the UK and Ireland and has appeared in publications including Magenta Foundation and the British Journal of Photography. She has won awards from ACNI, Magenta Foundation and NIVAF.
Tim Doak: Look At Me Now And Here I Am 6 Oct - 24 Nov 2012
Look At Me Now And Here I Am is a body of new photographic and video work by Northern Irish artist Tim Doak. Delving into the world of human trafficking Doak presents fragmentary portraits of six young Cambodian women/girls. These women were trafficked into the sex trade in Cambodia as children and are now living under the care of Ratanak International (Aid Organisation).
Doak cites the formation of relationships with his subjects as foremost in his methodology; allowing stories to emerge naturally. In this work the sensitivities, language and working time constraints encouraged close collaboration (photographic workshops and interviews) and significant input from the young women in the making of representative portraits. Included are twelve images produced by them during photography workshops in April-May 2012. The women are anonymous for various reasons though they have chosen the names Esther, Amuy, Miya, Kan Nga, Soriya and Srey Pouv. Their faces are obscured or their bodies turned completely but their surroundings, voices, gestures and physicality create a narrative of their current situations in view of their pasts.
The work at once touches on a widespread problem in contemporary Cambodia (as well as the worldwide crisis in human trafficking), and one that is exacerbated partly by corruption, wealth disparity and by economic dependency produced by ‘sex tourism’. Although these problems are systematic Doak aims to tell personal stories at an indivisible human level. This exhibition is the first instalment of what Doak intends to be an ongoing project in Cambodia.
Tim Doak graduated with a Masters Degree in Photography from the University of Ulster, Belfast, in 2011, and has himself worked as a part time lecturer in photography at Southern Regional College (Down, Armagh). Doak has been represented in a number of exhibitions throughout the UK and Ireland and has contributed to a variety of publications including Beautiful Dawn, Belfast, 2011. (See attached CV). He was awarded SIAP funding from ACNI in 2012.
This exhibition has been made possible through Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Craigavon Borough Council, Portadown 2000 and Ratanak International.Printing by Fire, Dublin
Between Art And Industry: Róisín de Buitleár, Neil Brownsword, Molloy & Sons 4 Aug - 29 Sep 2012
Between Art And Industry is a new exhibition of work commissioned in partnership with the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny and curated by Ann Mulrooney. The exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the shifting relationships between craft and industry through the use of evocative imagery utilising text, film and sound.
With the advent of globalisation, methods of manufacturing have shifted dramatically. Outsourcing of labour to other countries has resulted in decline of industrial manufacturing in Ireland and the UK. This exhibition reflects on those trends, on their consequences and costs, and on the potential for sustainable, highly skilled small-scale production to offer a new model.
Between Art and Industry features work by UK maker Neil Brownsword, whose work focuses on the decline of the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent while Irish glass artist Roisin de Buitlear's work will be considering Waterford Glass. Donegal based weavers Molloy and Sons provide a counterpoint with an insight into successful, contemporary, commercial craft making.
Ann Mulrooney of the National Craft Gallery, says of the exhibition (quoted in National Craft Gallery website):
“The title of this exhibition expresses the relationship of craft to industry. Craft is an intelligence of the hand that creates the bridge between initial inspiration and finished product. It is a specific, skillful, engaged and physical understanding of materials and process, problem-solving by its nature. Shifting values suggest that the evolution of manufacturing now is towards a closer relationship with craft and the handmade. In that sense, this exhibition could be seen as an arc, responding to the legacies of history but also describing a present in which new manifestations of small-scale production can be seen to emerge and survive”
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Between Art And Industry is a 30 page, full colour, softback catalogue, published 2012 with introduction by Jackie Barker, curator's essay, 'Between Arts And Industry' by Ann Mulrooney and essay, 'Future Needs The Past' by Finbarr Bradley (UCD).
Lesley Yendell: Transposer 20 Mar - 5 May 2012
Transposer: to alter the positions of; interchange, as words in a sentence; put into a different order.
Spoons have been a recurring image within Yendell’s work, their association with food, comfort, sustenance, nurture, love and as an instrument of measure have given them multifaceted meanings. As a choice of subject matter they reflect an awareness of the intrinsically human-scaled design of the objects with which we surround ourselves.
This exhibition focuses on the large scale reproduction of teaspoons, treated in a variety of ways, receiving projections, some cradling inside others and interacting with the gallery space. The artist converts this everyday object into an artefact to be considered anew through a transformation in scale, use of ‘natural’ materials and removal of the object’s function. The object distanced from reality, introduces itself into a poetic universe of its own. Drawing also plays an important part in the development of Yendell’s work and her large sculptural pieces are accompanied by intricate project drawings realized in Chinese ink with elements of collage.
“I hope in the end that my work offers a discourse where humour and tenderness does not impede its effectiveness” – Lesley Yendell
About: Lesley Yendell is an English sculptor, originally from Leeds, and now based in Barcelona. She has completed residencies in Spain, France, and Northern Ireland, and has been awarded ‘ART FAD silver prize’ and ‘Visual Arts Fellow’ in the UK, as well as a scholarship from the University of Barcelona. Her work is represented in various public and private collections including Craigavon Borough Council.
Creative Craigavon Video with Yendell Installation
Noel Bowler: Making Space 10 Feb - 24 Mar 2012
There is a calmness and informality in Bowler’s portraits of these spaces. They reveal, perhaps, a central quality of Islamic faith – that during sallah (prayer) there is nothing between one’s self and the divine. Without formal structures or divisions, these spaces are evidence of an earnest faith that transcends the separations and barriers established in secular life. They testify to the simple ways in which spiritual experience can co-exist within everyday vernacular conditions.
Devoid of any distinction or ornamentation apart from the ubiquitous prayer rugs (or sajjada), Bowler’s documentation of these everyday and generic spaces offers considered insights into the adaptability of modern Islamic communities and the ease with which mundane spaces are occupied, complemented and transformed.
Making Space is a touring exhibition organised by Gallery of Photography Ireland in partnership with Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown.
A publication featuring a text by Colin Graham accompanies the exhibition.
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Making Space is a 64 page, full colour, hardback catalogue, published 2011 (edition of 500) with essay 'Description as Revelation' by Colin Graham. It is available to buy from Gallery of Photography, Dublin and at Millennium Court Arts Centre @ £17.
Walk The Line: Tjibbe Hooghiemstra, John Brown and Arno Kramer 9 Dec 2011 – 28 Jan 2012
Walk the Line is about the transforming mystery of good drawing – its ability to freeze and flow like water. This dynamic exhibition aims to investigate the relationship and connections between two “shapeshifters”; drawing and poetry, between the sequential evocations of writing and the continuous, immediately present drawn image. Artists Hooghiemstra and Kramer often incorporate text into their work whether through title and accompanying poetry, by creating neologisms or in palimpsest, on the very paper supporting the image – Walk the Line is partly a development of this work. In Brown’s view there are less “cover-ups” in drawing than writing or talk. Instead good drawing exceeds and confuses truth by mixing up the real and imagined, or walking the line between. The title references both Johnny Cash and Paul Klee’s idea of imaginatively “taking a line for a walk”.
This exhibition also responds to the continuing enthusiasm for drawing, popular with the public for its directness and immediacy. It aims to develop this further through the methods in which the works are presented, having been drawn and scribed straight onto the walls. This visceral process creates an experience for the viewer, bringing them directly into what is usually a private activity, which can very often betray a conscious or subconscious thought process.
The viewer is invited to participate directly in the development of the exhibition by taking the line for a walk over the walls of Gallery 2.
This exhibition toured to Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, Limavady and Ormston House, Limerick in 2012.
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Walk The Line is a 40 page, full colour, soft back catalogue, published 2011 with introduction, by Jackie Barker, an essay 'Walk The Line' by John Brown and joint statement by the three artists.
Aideen Barry: On Tenterhooks 7 Oct - 26 Nov 2011
On Tenterhooks is an exhibition of a new body of work that was created in response to a discussion with Millennium Court Arts Centre about the Craigavon area by Aideen Barry, a practicing visual artist based in the West of Ireland. Nominated by Millennium Court Arts Centre, the proposal for this exhibition was shortlisted for the prestigious AIB prize 2010.
The word On tenterhooks refers to being in a state of uneasiness, anxiety, or suspense, stretched like the cloth on the tenter. In this show Visual Artist Aideen Barry explores the idea through performative videos, animations, drawings, photography and sculpture. These manifestations of what the artist calls "Visual Fictions" play on what we perceive to be real, the humdrum banal domesticity, with the unreal. Her protagonist behaves in an odd uneasy way, manifesting slapstick behaviour in an effort to deal with the ordinary of the everyday, while some of the drawing and sculptural objects play on architectural folly, something that becomes a recurring theme in Barry's recent work. Shooting film and performances in abandoned contemporary housing estates both North and South of the border, the artist plays with the notion of the contemporary "Houses of Usher", the most haunted of houses, of landscapes and of space of the "in-between".
This exhibition is based on the notion of a landscape created by man-made forces but possessed by grief, loss and failing. The haunted landscapes in our contemporary environment are the unfinished and repossessed housing estates, the redundant shopping centres and the desolate, unused car parks. Since the bursting of the years long property bubble haunted houses are often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property.
MCAC looks forward to this exciting, new work by Aideen Barry in her show On Tenterhooks. In the videos her protagonist behaves in an odd uneasy way in these surroundings, manifesting slapstick behaviour in an effort to deal with the ordinary of the everyday, while some of the drawing and sculptural objects play on architectural folly. Uninhabited housing estates that are scattered all over Ireland spoiling towns and countrysides and the nervousness in a homely setting that sneaks up on people is the centre of investigation for Aideen Barry. Her use of new technologies, like different video works and sculptures visualises the different dimensions of these abandoned lonely buildings and the confused irritated people living in them.
About The Artist:
Aideen Barry is a Visual Artist, working in the mediums of performance, film, musical composition, drawings and animation. She is a recipient of the 2010 Arts Council of Ireland Bursary Awards, and is currently working on a project funded by the 2010-2011 New Works Award from the Arts Council of Ireland.
She was recently awarded funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Projects: New Work Award towards the creation of a new work filmed in Zero Gravity whilst on a residency at Kennedy Space Centre, NASA. She has worked on projects that have been exhibited in the Moderna Museet, Sweden and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio.
Barry teaches part-time in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, The Galway Film Centre and also has lectured in several art institutions in the west. (please see CV for further detail)
transForm: 12 Aug – 25 Sep 2011
An exhibition of contemporary Irish Ceramics
Exhibition Runs: 12 August – 25 September 2011
with work by Adriana Ionascu, Alex Scott, Alison Kay, Andrew Ludick,
Christy Keeney, Deirdre Hawthorne, Deirdre Mc Loughlin, Derek Wilson, Elaine Riordan, Eleanor Swan, Frances Lambe, Grainne Watts, Gus Mableson, Helen Doherty, Henry Pim, Ingrid Murphy, Jack Doherty, Jane Jermyn, Jennifer Hickey, Karen Morgan, Kathleen Standen, Laura McNamara, Laura O'Hagan, Mandy Parslow, Marinna Klopp, Michael Flynn, Michael Moore, Neil Read, Nuala Creed, Nuala O'Donovan, Peter Fulop, Sara Flynn, Tina Byrne
To celebrate 2011 as the Year of Craft, and to coincide with August Craft Month, MCAC with Tina Byrne and Elaine Riordan of Ceramics Ireland curate an exhibition, which aims to represent the best of craft from both the North and South of Ireland.
There can be few exhibitions that have been given a more appropriate title than transFORM. Not only does it suggest the almost alchemical process that intense heat imposes on clay and minerals in the making of ceramics but it also captures the powerful role this exhibition will play in changing the current perception of Irish ceramics.
A panel of three independent jurors - two national and one international selected the show from an open application. The exhibition will provide an opportunity to see a comprehensive representation of contemporary Northern Irish and Irish ceramic practice produced by emerging as well as established makers.
MCAC and Ceramics Ireland want to present and celebrate the breadth of talent that exists in this exhibition and the Year of Craft is an ideal opportunity to represent the best of Northern Irish and Irish ceramics within this high caliber exhibition.
The exhibition opened in Farmleigh Gallery from May to July 2011 in time for the World Crafts Council’s AGM, following its run at Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown it will travel to Limerick in October.
Sean Cotter: Memorate, 1 July – 6 Aug 2011
Sean Cotter: Memorate
Exhibition Runs: 1 July – 6 August 2011
Memorate, Latin memoratus, past participle of memorare (to bring
to remembrance, mention, recount) to commemorate
Sean Cotter is at foremost an exciting painter. His paintings are partly imagined, observed and felt. There are strong reflections of mood, of an inner turmoil or tranquility. There is an intense energy visible in the dense pattern of birds in flight in his compressed charcoal drawings. The paintings acknowledge the energy of nature and an exploration of planes of colour and media, sometimes pushing back and obscuring, and sometimes revealing potential images and associations as they arise, fabricating a special space which belongs to painting.
“His approach to his work is both intuitive and expressionist. Whether his medium is a combination of charcoal and inks or oil on canvas he drips, pours, and splatters marks on to his paper and canvas grounds but always retaining a figurative dimension. Whether the black forms that swarm around the edges of such works as Sky Writings are birds or clods of earth thrown up by some apocalyptic event is not important. What is important is that they represent a vortex of movement in the landscape...that is packed with an emotional charge, causing us to think more profoundly about the future of our planet and our place within it.”
Catherine Marshall, 2008
Sean Cotter was born in Monasterevin, County Kildare. He studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, graduating in 1991 with an honours degree in Fine Art Painting. Involved in over 32 group exhibitions throughout Europe since 1991, his work can be found in international and Irish public collections; Lapua Arts and Science Foundation, Finland, Lapua Taidemuseo, Finland, Anglo Irish Bank, London, Aviva Investors, London, OPW Collections and Kildare, Louth and Wicklow County Councils among others.
Jackie Nickerson: The Past Is Another Country 6 May – 25 June 2011
The Past Is Another Country continues Nickerson’s investigation into the nature of identity and this series explores how global homogenisation has affected indigenous and local culture. Her work is driven by a passionate interest in people and their environments. She has spent the last ten years traveling all over the globe and the photographs from this exceptional series were made in Oman, Qatar, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, Ireland, France, China and the USA.
The works in the exhibition - showing everyday objects and situations that we might see on a daily basis - examine a dilemma of our modern world, where we are caught in a space between tradition and modernity, the local and the global. The objects and environments depicted in the works prompt the viewer to reflect on the nature of this dilemma and invite consideration of our own society and our own environment, raising questions of sustainability and lifestyle choices. They bring us face to face with questions of what culture means to us, and both how we are developing and how we would like to develop our own culture. There is a depth of feeling underpinning Nickerson’s practice and a truth underlies every one of these unforgettable photographs.
Ornate water towers to Bedouin encampments placed beside palatial desert homes; a troupe of Chinese opera singers preparing for a performance wearing western t-shirts; a young bride, whose hands are traditionally decorated in hennaed designs holds imported lilies; a plastic bamboo tree in a traditional geisha house; a story is told, a portrait of a place is revealed, subtly illustrating the appropriation of values from other parts of the world.
The exhibition has been made possible through kind support from Craigavon Borough Council and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
About: Jackie Nickerson is an award-winning photographer with an international reputation. She is fascinated with all aspects of humanity and particularly in the differences and similarities of people across the globe, her work focuses on who we are and how we live.
Through her intuitive use of the camera, she examines situations of identity and culture, focusing on real and ordinary people and situations with simplicity and a strong sense of aesthetic and detail, her work presents her subjects with dignity and beauty. She has the ability to engage with those on the other side of the lens and it is this that has given her access to a diverse range of communities, enabling viewers to get an unobtrusive glimpse of people living in their own environment.
In her own words, she says that her aim as an artist is “always to see what’s really there.”
The exhibition has been created with kind support from Craigavon Borough Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Tickled Milk: Exhibition of work from St Luke's Hospital, April 2011
Tickled Milk: An exhibition of work by service users of St Luke’s Hospital, Armagh and Sterkfontein Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa
8 April – 21 April 2011
Artists Puleng Lesala and Eddie Rafferty collaborated to produce this series of artworks, contrasting the different lives and cultures of clients from the two hospitals in Northern Ireland and South Africa. They worked together in South Africa in 2006 on the first part and the final stage was completed by Eddie in Armagh in 2007.
The stories you can experience in the art works tell about experiences, journeys, tragedies, dreams, wisdom – life in general with all its ups and downs. Although the clients in Northern Ireland and South Africa have different backgrounds and personalities, they all come back to similar subjects: superstitions, their land and the importance of home.
From the artistic point of view these works are striking because of their simplicity and forthrightness. With simple techniques and without the background of art school knowledge of composition etc. strong and touching works have been created. New approaches of drawing give them additional fascination. The connection with the Art Brut by Jean Dubuffet and the art of Adolf Woelfi is visible.
Eddie Rafferty describes his experience:
“When a person creates something there is a moment, a second, even less than a second, when they ask themselves what, who, why am I going to make this mark, what am I going to tell or let the world know about me on this piece of paper. From the outset of this project I made it clear to everyone involved that this was not to be a medical file. During the time spent on these collaborations I was witnessing something very special and real. These drawings and paintings do not need to be analyzed or to be explained or to be classified as some sort of therapy. You don’t need a map or a navigational system to find a way to explain these life experiences, they are in front of us everyday at work, at home, on the TV or through our front windows. Stories we hold and carry along with us never to be told, which sometimes can be profound, sad, confused and beautiful. I am a very lucky man to have met such wonderful people and witnessed such fantastic artworks.”
This project was supported by the Southern Health & Social Care Trust and Arts Care.
Taking Time: Craft And The Slow Revolution 5 Aug - 25 Sep 2010
Gary Breeze - Lettering sculptor, Neil Brownsword – Ceramics artist, Sonya Clark - Textile artist, Rebecca Earley – Textile designer and expert in environmental textiles, David Gates – Furniture designer, Matthew Harris - Textile artist, Amy Houghton - Animation artist, Sue Lawty – Textile artist, Elizabeth Turrell - Enamel artist, Judith van den Boom & Gunter Wehmeyer - Slow designers, Heidrun Schimmel -Textile artist, Paul Scott & Ann Linnemann – Ceramics artists, Shane Waltener & Cheryl McChesney Jones – Artist and Choreographer, Esther Knobel – Jeweller, Ken Eastman & Dawn Youll Ceramics artists
Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution is a touring exhibition from Craftspace curated with Helen Carnac. It features the work of nineteen international makers and artists reflecting on the “Slow Revolution”. The exhibition features textiles, jewellery, upcycling fashion, enamelling, furniture and ceramics.
Textile designer Rebecca Earley gave up a successful career in the fashion industry to work on her upcycling project. Mindful of the impact clothing and textile production has on the environment she turned to “upcycling” – increasing value by reuse. In her “Top 100” collection she takes discarded shirts from charity shops and through over-printing, re-cutting and re-styling she transforms unwanted items into one-off designer pieces. A second life is thus given to a polyester shirt that would otherwise take more than 200 years to decompose in landfill.
Shane Waltener is an artist whose work has been exhibited internationally. Crossing boundaries between fashion, craft, sculpture and fine art, his work has ranged from graffiti in icing sugar to knitted sculptures. For Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution he has created a ‘Garland’ installation. Made from colourful yarn, string and paper Waltener has used needlecraft and knotting techniques to make a vast woven installation which visitors are invited to add to with their crochet or knitting.
The slowness of the process of making and ideas of time are emphasised in the work of Sue Lawty (artist in residence at the V&A) who creates vast abstract drawings composed from thousands of small stones. Her measured intricate stone drawings suggest the vast geological time that transforms a rock into a minute sliver.
For this exhibition ceramic artist Paul Scott has worked in collaboration with Danish ceramicist Ann Linnemann. Ann has hand thrown a series of delicate porcelain cups and trays which Paul has printed with summer and winter trees, garden paths, borders, flower and vegetable beds, inspired by maps from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collection.
The importance of community and collaboration as an alternative to the fast-paced individualistic culture of today is also stressed within the Slow Movement, but this does not necessarily mean a rejection of technology. Amy Houghton will initiate a “Tweave” throughout the exhibition tour - an evolving woven digital artwork using social networking site Twitter.
Stephen Brandes: The Last Travelogue of Joseph M. 11 June – 24 July 2010
Joseph M. happens to find himself falling - from the top of the tallest building in Lower Saxony. As he falls, he recounts memories from his years of travelling both for business and pleasure. Employing drawing, painting, collage and other forms of visual representation Brandes presents a surreal and often darkly humorous anti-narrative portrait (or ‘exploded fiction’) of Europe as described through his fictional protagonist, Joseph M.
Brande’s initial body of work grew from a visual diary (made in 1999) of his grandmother’s flight through Europe, to escape from the pogroms in Romania in 1913. Since making this diary and the accompanying trip across Europe in 1999 he has also taken inspiration, for his new work, from a variety of sources ranging from absurdist literature, comedy, design, old European travel guides and found photographs (which are used in collage throughout his work). Encompassing a lexicon of styles and materials from small paintings and collages, to vast highly detailed drawings on unconventional surfaces such as used floor vinyl, history is interwoven with his own experience and invention - as if told by a bewildered traveller whom we suspect has only left his armchair to put on the kettle. Throughout his work, Brandes misquotes both the familiar and exotic to absurd effect, whilst injecting the fantastical with deadpan humour and dry social observation.
Born in Wolverhampton, UK Stephen Brandes has lived and worked in Cork since 1993. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale 2005 as part of ‘Ireland at Venice’, and has shown in numerous exhibitions both in Ireland and internationally. Solo projects include: A Grand Tour of the Invisible North, Galerie Robert Drees, Hannover, Germany, 2009; Walpurgisnacht, Rubicon Gallery, Dublin, 2008; Why Travel? Right Here is Fantastic!, Ardbia Gallery, Galway, 2007; Chutzparadiso, West Cork Arts Centre, 2006; Klutz Paradiso, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin, 2006; Ways of Escape, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, 2004. Public collections include the Irish Museum of Modern Art, An Chomhairle Ealaíon /The Arts Council, AIB Bank and Crawford Gallery, Cork. Brandes has also worked on several curatorial projects, most notably Superbia, commissioned by Breaking Ground in Ballymun, Dublin, 2003 and with artists Mick O’Shea and Irene Murphy formed the absurdist culinary performance group, The Domestic Godless.
He is represented by Rubicon Gallery, Dublin
Archiving Place & Time 10 April - 29 May 2010
Archiving Place and Time examines the engagement of visual culture and art practice in Northern Ireland, investigating the socio-political and economic development of a post-conflict society. The exhibition engages with history, memory and archival material, in addition to current issues around urban regeneration in a post-industrial city and the reconstruction of post-conflict identity. It aims to imply a response to the changing definitions of space and questions of the inevitability of history raised by the Belfast Agreement / Good Friday Agreement. Over ten years on, there is a need to register, to record the investigations that are impelling artists working in this changed situation.
The work of artists and photographers from Northern Ireland registers these shifts and in a mediated way, present them back to the culture that is their source. The work for this exhibition has been selected from some of Northern Ireland’s most well-known, contemporary artists who are from, live or work in Northern Ireland. The work has been made in the last few years, embodying a more subtle and nuanced response to the huge changes signified by the Agreement.
Artist’s represented in the exhibition include Willie Doherty, Paul Seawright, John Duncan, Rita Duffy, Sandra Johnston, Conor McGrady, Mary McIntyre, Aisling O’Beirn, Philip Napier, Mike Hogg & Conor McFeely.
The initial showing of the exhibition at Manchester Metropolitan University in November 2009 was accompanied by a major conference: Irishness, Memory and Visuality, in conjunction with the British Association of Irish Studies. The exhibition will then tour to Wolverhampton Art Gallery from June to December 2010.
The exhibition was curated by MCAC Director Megan Johnston and Fionna Barber from Manchester Metropolitan Museum.
Into Irish Drawing: Curated by Arno Kramer 27 Jan – 27 Mar 2010
Stephen Brandes . Claire Carpenter . Gary Coyle . Brian Fay . Mark Francis . David Godbold . Anita Groener . Katie Holten . Timothy Emlyn Jones . Alice Maher . Niamh McCann . Eoin McHugh . Bea McMahon . Nick Miller . Tom Molloy . Isabel Nolan . Eoman O'Kane . Niamh O'Malley . Kathy Prendergast . Jim Savage . Gerda Teljeur . Martin Wedge
The Millennium Court Arts Centre presents a body of stunning new drawings by selected Irish artists. Curated by visual artist, teacher, and writer Arno Kramer, The exhibition is described as an ‘adventure.. based on visual quality’. Co-commissioned by Millennium Court Art Centre, Limerick City Gallery of Art, aKKuH in the Netherlands, the Centre Culturel Irlandais, the opening of ‘Into Irish Drawing’ at MCAC will provide the viewer with the final chance to see the exhibition.
This co commissioning partnership represents MCAC’s strong interest in and commitment to working with international partners and our ongoing support in the creation and promotion of new work by Irish artists.
This beautiful exhibition does not provide an objective summary of present day Irish drawing, it is instead a selection of work that was chosen for its visual quality. The exhibition is made up of a personal selection of work by the curator, chosen on the basis of its originality, authenticity and the fact that the pieces reflect the artist’s recognizable,signature style. In a broader perspective, the work was chosen for its identity, originality, content and the personal way in which it was created. The selection of artists encompasses the most respected and established artists working in Ireland along with exciting, emerging artists including Alice Maher, Stephen Brandes, David Godbold, Bea McMahon and Martin Wedge.
The exhibition responds to the continuing enthusiasm for drawing, popular with the public for its directness no other medium is better able to express the creation of art as directly as drawing. Drawing can be a private activity, which can very often betray conscious or subconscious thought process. The work within the exhibition possess a resonance with the viewer as it is possible for them to see and in many ways experience how a work has been created.
The use of drawing is the only common factor that unites the work in the exhibition. Wild, violent marks and scratches, thin spidery lines, brightly coloured cartoon characters, religious icons drawn in pen and ink and simple pencil drawings bearing the lightest touch make up the work and betray just some of the styles and materials used within this fascinating and beautiful exhibition.
Arno Kramer works as a visual artist in the Netherlands and in Ireland. He has compiled various exhibitions, particularly exhibitions of drawings. In 2005 he curated Into Drawing, contemporary Dutch drawing. This show travelled to 5 European countries. He was a teacher for 20 years a teacher at the AKI Akademie voor Beeldende Kunst en Vormgeving (Academy of the Visual Arts and Design) in Enschede, the Netherlands and has been a guest teacher at art colleges in Ireland, England, Scotland and the USA. He publishes on the visual arts and also writes poetry.
His own work has been displayed in the Netherlands, Ireland, England the USA, Sweden and Germany and is in private and public collections in these countries. As of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Twenthe Enschede, Museum de Fundatie Heino,, Van Reekum Museum Apeldoorn, Fries Museum Leeuwarden, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and in Ireland in the Limerick City Gallery of Art Limerick and the Model Arts and Niland Gallery in Sligo.
André Stitt: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 10 Dec 2009 – 23 Jan 2010
André Stitt was commissioned by Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown to produce a new body of work ’Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’ in which he uses painting and text to recall his formative experiences and applies these experiences in a response to the Craigavon area.
Stitt carried out a series of site visits and explorations, building up a psychogeograhic experience of Craigavon and applied this to the wider context of trauma and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. The exhibition is the culmination of a site-specific exploration investigating memory and the interrogation of space as a primary vehicle for tracing its repression and recovery.
He says: ‘In many ways my response to Craigavon has been a journey back into my own past, trying to make sense of what the place, and by extension, Northern Ireland means to me today. In the process I have inevitably confronted some difficult memories, truths, and experiences within myself. And, like the residues of conflict that saturate Northern Ireland, I felt that there was no going forward without going back and confronting the past of my own almost place, the place I almost belong.’
Stitt’s approach to the new work emanates from the perspective of his experience as a performance artist, the artist is identified with a strain of performance known as ‘akshun’ encompassing visual art and art action. His work focuses on difficult and traumatic themes; issues of oppression, freedom, coercion, subversion, experiences of alienation, appropriation of cultures, globalisation and communal conflict. His work physically and emotionally embodies the divisive forces of capitalism and materialist addiction, processes of building and disintegration and the resulting journey toward redemption.
Layering, erasure and ‘scouring’ techniques that have been used in the creation of the work consider the performance of painting as the physical manifestation of the post-colonial condition.
Born in Belfast, Stitt is considered one of Europe's foremost performance and interdisciplinary artists. He has worked as an experimental artist since 1976 creating hundreds of unique works at major galleries, festivals, alternative venues and sites specific throughout the world including the Venice Biennale 2005, The Drawing Centre, New York, 2006 and Artspace, Sydney 2007. His artistic output includes performance art, painting, drawing, installation, digital print, video, photography, and relational activity. He also produces music and tours with his band The Panacea Society.
Stitt's uncompromising style has been variously described as "..enigmatic and corruptive ... unmissible" [Time Out, London] "..fierce integrity, immediate, spontaneous, releasing" [High Performance, USA] - Performance Magazine [UK] has described him as "..perhaps our shaman who is prepared to explore what Most of us would not care to be let alone try to express" “..the nearest thing Britain has to a genuine indigenous cult performer." – “Art’s best kept secret and last live wire” [ND Magazine, USA]. There are several books published about his life and work.
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is an 80 page, full colour, hardback catalogue, published 2009 with introduction, 'Hermetic Traces of Place' by Megan Johnston and essay 'Nowhere Between Then And Now' by Dr. Justin McKeown'.
Richard Gorman: Shuffle (New Work) 8 Oct - 28 Nov 2009
Highlanes Gallery and Millenium Court Arts Centre are delighted to announce a new exhibition of paintings by painter Richard Gorman. The exhibition entitled Shuffle opens at Highlanes Gallery in July and then at Millenium Court Arts Centre in October and travels to the Ashford Gallery at the Royal Hibernian Academy in March, 2010.
Richard says of the new work: The paintings I am making at the moment explore the interrelationships with overlapping flat shapes and in turn those relationships with the edge of the picture plane. The oil paint is applied quite flatly on to gessoed linen canvas. April 2009
Gorman was educated in Ireland but has lived and worked in Milan since the 1980s. During that decade, having abandoned the residual figuration of his earliest work, Gorman's paintings were animated by the frantic surface pace of an anxious line which skittered over or ploughed through impacting plates of muted colour.
Throughout the 90s, however, the role of line drawing receded and his naturally understated gifts as a colourist became even more evident. Since then his work has drawn much of its power from the compositional tension between increasingly prominent and boldly simplified, irregular blocks of colour. Gorman has exhibited widely and regularly since the mid-1980s, especially in Dublin, London, Milan and Tokyo. Frequent and extended visits to Japan have notably influenced his working methods and materials, most memorably in a series of highly successful large-scale works executed on handmade washi paper which he produced in western Japan in 1999.
Recent international exhibitions have included solo shows at Itami City Gallery of Art and Mitaka City Art Foundation in Japan in 1999 and the Koriyama Museum, Japan in 2003. Gorman has also, over the past few years, participated in group shows at Der Spiegel Galerie, Cologne; an exhibition of contemporary Irish drawings, A Measured Quietude, which toured the Berkeley Art Museum, California and The Drawing Center, New York; He is represented in many collections, both public and private in Europe, the UK, Ireland and Japan.
Template 2.0: An Exhibition of Digital Art, 21 Aug – 24 Sep 2009
Template 2.0: An Exhibition of Digital Art
21 August 2009 – 24 September 2009
tem•plate n. 2 Computer Science. A document or file having a preset format, used as a starting point for a particular application so that the format does not have to be recreated each time it is used.
The Millennium Court Arts Centre presents an ambitious interdisciplinary multi format exhibition co-curated by Joe Gilmore and Chris Murphy with work by internationally respected digital artists. The exhibition forms part of the programme for ISEA 2009, a digital arts conference hosted by the University of Ulster in August.
'Template' presents current tendencies in visual and digital art by interdisciplinary artists working in the fields of digital media. Works are featured from a cross-section of digital artists including Tina Frank (Austria), Alorenz (Germany), Mark Fell (UK), and Velluminous (USA). The artists are pioneers in the field of web-based and digital art and all have exhibited internationally. They explore the boundaries between the 'virtual' world within the computer and the 'real' world outside it. Their work, which is often freely available via the internet, raises questions of ownership, challenging established artistic models of consumption.
The artists featured embrace and explore the computer as a central method for creating their work. This vibrant digital playground forms the basis of the exhibition, which engages and challenges the audience's perception of what digital art might be. Through the juxtaposition of web-based artworks, screen based works, printed works and generative pieces (whose form is constantly evolving), Template 2.0 offers an exciting opportunity to present some of the world's leading digital artists to a Northern Ireland audience.
MCAC is part of a group of leading venues that are now interfacing with publics that feel comfortable with new media and most importantly are providing new avenues of access into museums and galleries via relevant creative experiences. This is part of MCAC’s ongoing interest in engaging audiences with new technology, including our new online social network site on Facebook. To accompany this exhibition MCAC has commissioned Murphy to create an iPod interactive tour. While commonplace in many galleries worldwide, interactive mediation devices are not widely utilised in Ireland. With the arrival of these new technologies organisations now have an opportunity to present their work (collections or temporary exhibitions) in new and increasingly innovative ways.
ISEA, the Inter-Society of Electronic arts, is an international non-profit organisation fostering interdisciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organizations and individuals situated at the interface between arts, science and digital technologies. Their membership and collaborators consists of a wide range of individuals and institutions involved in the creative, theoretical and technological aspects of electronic arts.
Chris Murphy is co-founder of Fällt, an independent publishing house specializing in experimental music, fine art, design and criticism. Joe Gilmore is a multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer working in the fields of computer music, video and algorithmic art.
Frances Lambe: Microcosmos (New Work) 2 July – 15 Aug 2009
The Millennium Court Arts Centre is pleased to present a body of stunning new work by Dundalk based ceramist Frances Lambe. The exhibition has been co-commissioned by MCAC and the Basement Gallery in Dundalk and this partnership represents MCAC’s strong interest in and commitment to contemporary craft and design and ongoing support in the creation and promotion of new work by innovative designer-makers.
Lambe draws inspiration from a convergence of contrasting sources. This new body of work springs from visual research into disparate areas interest including geography, biology, botany and astronomy, highlighting Lambe’s fascination with the visual ‘inter-relatedness’ of microscopic life.
In the exhibition’s catalogue essay Eleanor Flegg writes, “Lambe’s ceramic forms describe an underwater world. Their purity of form recalls stones that have been polished by the movement of water and sand. They describe relationships between land and sea: drumlins sculpted by the retreating ice, the sweep of eroded rock. Others reference the microscopic, the skeletal remains of tiny sea creatures. Some are displayed in multiples, suspended in undulating shoals or appearing to slip down the surface of the wall. Larger pieces rock on rounded bases, their surfaces pierced with a patterning that recalls both charts and constellations. The work has a depth and integrity that goes beyond its biomorphic grace: these are meeting points, recollections between air, sea and land. They describe the way that we navigate the worlds below and above the surface of the water.”
By exploring a counterpoint of opposites, Lambe seeks to engage the viewer in a visual dialogue and tactile investigation, through a subtle variation of media and texture. Lambe presents a dichotomy of approaches with visual inquiry into opposite concepts such as smooth/ textured, minimal/ intricate, single/ multiple, convex/ concave and microscopic/ vast. The sphere, the oval and undulating forms underpin Lambe’s visual language and the form of each piece is the prime focus. The constructed walls form a taut ‘membrane’ between the inner and exterior space. Holes punctuate the surface and link interior to exterior.
Lambe describes her own process as, ‘turning mud into stone’ and as a result the intensively beautiful pieces that are created by Lambe have an organic quality – the work seems to have evolved in a geological process rather than have been made.
Lambe is an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited both internationally and extensively throughout Ireland. Her work was selected for exhibition for ‘Image of Longing’ at the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny in 2008 and was a guest artist at the Ceramics Ireland International Festival in Kilkenny. She has also shown with the Crafts Council of Ireland at SOFA, in Chicago. Her work is in public and private collections including the National Museum of Ireland, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Belfast and Tokyo and Louth County Council.
Guerrilla Girls, 1 Apr – 30 May 2009
MCAC is thrilled to present four new works by the internationally known feminist arts group the Guerrilla Girls. With this exhibition, MCAC launches an all-Ireland Guerrilla Girl Tour of the new work, which will go on to Cork and Dublin.
The project is a collaboration with MCAC; the Glucksman Gallery, Cork; the University of Ulster, Belfast; the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and UCD.
In April 2009 the Guerrilla Girls presented ‘gigs’ throughout Ireland as part of the research project that informed this newly commissioned work. The project aimed to create a lens through which power and powerlessness were identified, gender examined and issues about women in contemporary Irish society could be discussed.
MCAC Director and exhibition curator Megan Johnston explains that the “project is historic and significant in relation to the museum and galleries of Ireland-both North and South. These important artists have something very important to reveal to us in the visual arts sector, as they comment on the status not only of artists who are female but also on gender, race, nationality and religion in contemporary society. To participate in the Guerrilla Girls project will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see art history in the making”.
The exhibition forms part of a wider programme of discussions and workshops around female representation in the arts and activism in general.
29th September – 7.00pm Panel Discussion at the University College, Dublin
Lecture Theatre M, Belfield, Dublin 4. Panelists Include: The Guerrilla Girls, the Director of the National Women’s Council and journalist Susan McKay, Head of Cultural Policy and Arts Management at UCD, Pat Cooke and Catherine Marshall, Head of Collections at IMMA. Discussion is open to students and members of the public.
1 October – 7.30-9pm: Opening night of Exhibition of New Work, Millennium Court Arts Centre
2 October - Activist workshop – University of Ulster, Belfast
The Guerrilla Girls will conduct a workshop where they will assist participants to produce their own activism projects on issues that are important to them. Open to students and members of the public.
Formed in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls explore such taboo subjects as feminism and fashion, attempting to achieve equality of the sexes and “races” in art, politics, film, and popular culture, and so calling themselves the ‘Conscience of the Art World’. They wear gorilla masks in public, to conceal their identities, and place the focus on issues rather than personalities, and work collectively and anonymously, to produce posters, films, billboards, public actions, books and other projects.
The Guerrilla Girls exhibition and tour highlights MCAC’s commitment to the delivery of a critically acclaimed artistic programme with the aim of creating a vibrant and unique context in which to cultivate and enhance the cultural environment of the community.
Paul Seawright: Conflicting Account 26 Mar - 30 May 2009
‘The conflicted terrain of the Irish past is occupied by two powerful grand narratives, one loyalist and protestant, the other nationalist and catholic. These furnish different and mutually antagonistic ways of telling the story of Ireland: two competing constructions of the same history. …There is no pure form of these two stories, which exist only in the range of their tellings and re-tellings, with numerous variations and difference of emphasis and nuance, across a variety of modes and media of representation…’ Graham Dawson – Making Peace with the Past – Memory Trauma and the Irish Troubles. MUP 2007
MCAC is pleased to present internationally acclaimed photographer Paul Seawright in an exhibition of new work commissioned by MCAC and based on the conflicted accounts of histories, events and language within Northern Ireland. Seawright has revisited, for the first time in 12 years, the theme of Northern Ireland as a subject for his work to produce a poignant and stunning exhibition.
Known best for his alternative visual analysis of locations and subjects dominated by mainstream media, Seawright examines in a series of new photographic works, the disparate and often conflicting narratives of Northern Irish history. Working in school classrooms and housing estates representing both traditions, he has recovered visual fragments and texts, which function as metaphors for the layering of narrative, the writing and re-writing of history, and the conflicting rhetoric of two traditions.
Like much of Seawright’s early work from Northern Ireland ‘Conflicting Account’ adopts a quasi-forensic method of image making. Justin Carville has pointed out that photographs of everyday objects in the context of the north, rescue histories and narratives that have become swamped and obscured by ‘traditional and totalising images of nationalist and unionist identity.’ In much of Seawright’s work the wider narratives of political situations are visually obscured, resonating instead through fragments and objects retrieved by the camera. In these new works everyday items, blackboards, houses, walls, bridges and shops continue to form a vocabulary of separateness and contradiction.
Joy Gerrard: Space, Fear and the Multitude 5 Feb – 21 Mar 2009
MCAC is pleased to present a new body of project-based work from the Dublin-born, London-based artist, Joy Gerrard. The common theme of Gerrard’s current gallery work is a concern with space, site, politics and a visual response to the city as a site of transformation. She looks at ‘the crowd’ framed by urban space and seeks to address some fundamental questions about the changing political face of the city globally.
Both Gerrard’s public art and gallery-based works represent the complex multiplicity of human and societal relationships. Shifting between macro and micro perspectives, she offers abstract cityscapes and crowd scenes focussing on architecturally determined spatial relations, trajectories and human flows. These are juxtaposed with grander, relational images suggesting self-forming, interpenetrating nodes and networks. Both suggest the ecstasy of communication, exchange and empowerment. At the same time they present the dystopian potential of the same spaces and relations: the accumulation of risk, contestation, surveillance and control.
At MCAC, Gerrard will present a significant body of work made between 2007/9. This will include photography, film works, site-specific models and a series of drawings. The short films are exhibited on bespoke computer screens and show visualisations of the evolution and transformation of the crowd: the potent “crowding” of urban space and the inevitable “emptying out” which is its counterpoint.
Gerrard has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe and most recently, was submitted by Millennium Court Arts Centre for the AIB Award, Ireland’s most prestigious art prize, achieving short-listing. She has also just completed a major site-specific sculpture for the London School of Economics.
This MCAC exhibition presents new drawings alongside other strands of practice and will be the first time this extensive body of work is shown in Ireland.
An exhibition catalogue accompanies the work. Space, Fear and the Multitude is a 48 page, full colour, hardback catalogue, published 2009 with essay 'A Crowd of Crowds' by Fiona Kearney, Director, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork.
Michael Moore: Departures 5 Feb - 21 Mar 2009
At Millennium Court Arts Centre, we have a strong commitment to contemporary craft and support the creation and promotion of new work by innovative designer-makers. So it is with great pleasure that we present over twenty new ceramic works by Belfast-based Irish ceramicist Michael Moore.
As a sculptor, Moore is interested in the construction of objects by hand and draws inspiration from visual forms within nature, such as coastlines and geological markings in landscape, exploring the changes marked by time and creating a resonance within his earth-like, abstract sculptural pieces. Known for his visceral forms of abstracted landscapes, a central theme in the new work is the concept of interaction or what essayist Audrey Whitty calls an, ‘interplay between the man-made and natural environment’. In this new work, Moore creates an inherent visual tension on several different levels.
The first tension is one of the artwork as a static object versus one that evokes movement. Moore has successfully created sublime, sensual and sculptural ceramic pieces, while utilising form, function, line and colour, drawing in our responses to the innate movement found in the work. Secondly, Moore’s work is both intimate and sizeable in scale. An artist-in-residency in the Canadian Rockies has inspired new, larger pieces, in size, scale and ambition, creating both a tangible presence in the gallery and an elicit response in the viewer. A third tension is one of seduction. Moore’s work has always been incredibly striking—physically in its sensual forms and surface, and conceptually in its sophisticated Modernist influence. It is these nuances found within the multiple visceral tensions that convey the power in Moore’s ceramic pieces.
Through this exhibition MCAC hopes to initiate craft catalysts, by supporting individual artist-makers within the craft/ design sector and develop a synergy for the promotion of an arts/ crafts milieu on a local, national, and international level. To this end, the ‘Departures’ exhibition will go on tour to Wexford Arts Centre in late Spring 2009.
Gwen Stevenson: Infintite Mass 4 Sep - 29 Nov 2008
MCAC is pleased to present new installation work by Northern Ireland-based artist Gwen Stevenson. The artist has created a multi-channel sound installation of seven suspended spherical forms. Each form acts as an individual sound source. The installation space is filled with the mass of the spheres and the sounds moving between the spheres. The artwork is fabricated from polystyrene, and their texture is created from a spray-painting process that results in a surface resembling stone.
The installation allows the viewer to directly interact with the artwork and the space that surrounds it with both visual and audio senses. According to the artist ‘this work is concerned with how we, as human beings, inhabit this world and experience our place in it. We live in both a physical world and a spiritual metaphysical world. Both exist within and around us but are experienced very differently. The tangible stationary bulk of the suspended spheres co-exist with the intangible environments of the sound piece. Mass is used as a visual form to convey notions of the bounded physical domain. The unbounded metaphysical domain is conveyed by movement of sound between the forms. The tangible stationary bulk of the suspended spheres co-exist with the intangible transitory existence of the sound piece’
Ronnie Hughes: Manifest 10 April – 31 May 2008
MCAC is delighted to host Manifest, presenting new work by International Northern Irish artist Ronnie Hughes. It is the third and final project in a new series of exhibitions entitled Beneath the Painted Surface curated by Megan Johnston. Beneath the Painted Surface, is a series of three exhibitions that investigate the liminal (i.e. thresholds, boundaries and borderlines) and subliminal elements in the medium of painting. Three Northern Irish contemporary artists have been selected because their practice engages with these issues. Through these exhibitions, MCAC aims to provoke contemplation, dialogue and debate about the formal readings of the painted surface — colour, line, perspective and narrative. We will also engage with the artist to incite deeper examination of painting in historical, modern and post-modern eras.
Manifest is a body of new work springing from the artist’s time at the Albers’ Foundation in Conneticut in 2006 and by a further visit to the Vermont Studio Centre. These two intense residencies allowed for Hughes to develop new ideas within his practice, focusing particularly on drawing. This can be seen in the current work, with the intimacy and the quiet ‘slowness’ of the New England drawings, and stands in contract to the brashness of much of contemporary art practice. It is through this intimacy that Hughes’ engages with the boundaries between the liminal and subliminal elements of painting, finding new and undiscovered areas of investigation.
In his illuminating essay ‘From the Stars to the Studio’, art critic Barry Schwabsky superbly elucidates the liminal and subliminal elements found in Hughes’ work. Schwabsky quotes Richard Wollheim’s ‘ “seeing-in”—the capacity for two-fold seeing whereby one can see simultaneously the physical characteristics of some marks on a surface, and what those marks add up to a picture. The painter’s way of looking teaches all of us that the best way of seeing a painting is to see it in two ways at once: to see what is there, and to see what might be there’.
Schwabsky sees this notion in relation not just to representational art but also abstraction. ‘What I have in mind is painting that is not hardcore ‘non-representation’ (or “concrete art,” as its continental proponents often used to call it) in which there would ideally exist no reference to any non-artistically-formed reality, but also not “abstracted from” reality in the manner of analytic cubism. Because his paintings do not fit into such models of abstraction, Hughes has even gone so far as to deny what might seem to be obvious, that his work is abstract. But there is still another sense of abstraction, and it is in this other realm that Hughes’s work takes form, I believe, and it is for this reason that it is particularly helpful to view his paintings with the sidereal dominion in mind’.
There are not many opportunities for artists to have a visual ‘white box’ in which they can create. MCAC prides itself on the ability to encourage the idea of offering artists the freedom to push the boundaries of their own practice. MCAC has long been interested in the creation of new bodies of work that engages with the gallery space, embracing the large open vastness of our gallery spaces. The Beneath the Painted Surface series encourages the selected artists to do so. In response, Hughes has mastered the space, light and environs to suit the work, not the other way around. His new work is masterfully sublime and unabashedly uncompromising in its effect, demands of the viewer an interaction that draws out both a cerebral challenge but also an emotional wrenching— liminal and subliminal reactions respectively. In doing so, Hughes epitomises this project.
This project has been made possible with Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, who continue to support the commissioning of new work and supporting high-quality art by Northern artists. MCAC and the artists are indebted to their support. Additionally, the Craigavon Borough Council also supported the project through partnership funding.
Ronnie Hughes was born in Northern Ireland in 1965 he lives and works in Sligo, Ireland. He earned an MA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster 1989 and then spent a one-year in residency in New York (PS1, 1990-91), 3-month residencies at Banff Arts Center, Canada (1994) and Bemis Arts Center, Nebraska (1997). In 2006 he spent two months at the ‘Joseph & Anni Albers Foundation’ in Connecticut and one month working at the Vermont Studio Center.
Exhibition Catalogue Available
Jennifer Trouton: Ellipsis 7 Feb – 29 Mar 2008
MCAC is delighted to host ‘Ellipsis’, presenting new work by young Northern Irish artist Jennifer Trouton. It is the second project in a new series of exhibitions entitled Beneath the Painted Surface curated by Megan Johnston. Beneath the Painted Surface, is a series of three exhibitions that investigate the liminal (i.e. thresholds, boundaries and borderlines) and subliminal elements in the medium of painting. Three Northern Irish contemporary artists have been selected because their practice engages with these issues. Through these exhibitions, MCAC aims to provoke contemplation, dialogue and debate about the formal readings of the painted surface — colour, line, perspective and narrative. We will also engage with the artist to incite deeper examination of painting in historical, modern and post-modern eras.
Trouton’s work is based on a collection of abandoned possessions found by Trouton in a house, which she moved into in 2005. This house had been previously lived in by a man who left behind a fragmented inadvertent history of his life. She calls the show ‘Ellipsis’, a word indicating a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or a trailing off into silence before the end of a sentence. It is this silence that defines the concept of Trouton’s show.
‘The paintings in this show step deep into a world of relics, of the newly departed but utterly gone. Jennifer Trouton seems to have the gifts of a medium, reaching through the first swaying layers of the past that hang around us and bringing back old testimonies’. - Writer Polly Devlin.
Trouton’s paintings evoke auras, atmospheres and feelings. Devlin calls the new paintings ‘faint records of earlier times uncovered; old letters read with a sympathetic eye; photographs from foreign lands transmuted, the rambling notes of someone slowly losing their mind deciphered; all this can be seen or understood under the surface images presented to us, surface images which are seductive in their own right’.
Brendan Jamison: In-Between 7 Feb - 29 Mar 2008
The theme of ‘In-Between’ is explored through the use of space. A yellow spiral staircase connects the floor to the ceiling; a blue wool bridge rises up and stretches across the centre of the gallery; and a curving red wool tunnel.
The artist employs wool for its warmth and tangible quality, with its therapeutic healing qualities offering non-violent associations. As an artist Jamison is constantly aware and engaging with the visual and psychological effects of colour and form on the viewer. This technique breaks down many of the academic notions that can at times isolate and distance people from contemporary art. This is also a major role MCAC plays as both a Gallery and Art Centre in its belief that art is for everyone and altering perceptions of art.
Mark McGreevy: A Gap In The Bright 6 Dec 2007 - 26 Jan 2008
MCAC is delighted to host ‘A Gap in the Bright’, presenting new work by young Northern Irish artist Mark McGreevy. ‘A Gap in the Bright’ is the first project in Beneath the Painted Surface, a series of three exhibitions that investigate the liminal (i.e. thresholds, boundaries and borderlines) and subliminal elements in the medium of painting and curated by Megan Johnston. Three Northern Irish contemporary artists have been selected because their practice engages with these issues. Through these exhibitions, MCAC aims to provoke contemplation, dialogue and debate about the formal readings of the painted surface — colour, line, perspective and narrative. We will also engage with the artist to incite deeper examination of painting in historical, modern and post-modern eras.
McGreevy will undertake a creative investigation into the surface image through his process of painting, which contains real, imagined and abstracted energetic compositions combined with images from a collective conscious to the personal. McGreevy’s work is heavily influenced by images from computer games, science fiction and popular culture. Some of the work is built upon the structure of order and its demise; other work only hints at a structured composition. The use of colour and layering techniques make these paintings take on a life of their own outside the canvases on which they are painted.
According to Patrick Murphy in his essay for this catalogue, McGreevy’s paintings appear to have ‘no volume control … they blast their presence at us, intimidating us with the scale, colour and swirling content’. There is a disarming juxtaposition in McGreevy’s work with organic patterning exploding on the canvas while the subject matter is somewhat representational yet very surreal. While McGreevy’s inspiration is influenced by images from computer games, science fiction and popular culture, Murphy calls the subject matter ‘forms [that] are in a biological blender, a nightmarish evolution into something we have not imagined’. In the subliminal sense there are autonomous, free-floating motifs meandering in and out of existence. Murphy writes that McGreevy is going visceral. He is and his work is founded in the sub-consciousness of intuition, instinctive, primitive and primeval gestures and thoughts.
There are not many opportunities for artists to have a visual or verbal ‘white box’ into which they can create. MCAC prides itself on the ability to encourage the idea of offering artists the freedom to push the boundaries of their own practice. MCAC has long been interested in the creation of new bodies of work that engages with the gallery space, embracing the large open vastness of Gallery 1. Our Beneath the Painted Surface series encourages selected artists to do so and McGreevy’s spectacular new paintings certainly permeate the gallery space.
This project has been made possible with Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, who continue to support the commissioning of new work and supporting high-quality art by Northern artists. MCAC and the artists are indebted to their support. Additionally, the Craigavon Borough Council also supported the project through partnership funding.
Victor Sloan & Glenn Patterson: Luxus, 25 Jan – 24 Mar 2007
Luxus is Visual and Verbal Collaboration by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson. It is the first exhibition & book in a two-part series of new work entitled ‘Interrogating Contested Spaces’ involving the collaboration of major Northern Irish visual and verbal artists. The aim is create dialogue and inform discourse between rural and urban disputed places, between creator and participant/viewer, between the urban regenerator and the general public and finally between the visual and verbal interpretations or creations.
While primarily looking at Berlin, and tangentially Portadown, the first project ‘Luxus’, by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson, engages with the notion of The City in urban renewal. These urban spaces share notions of ‘locality’ in relation to common post-conflict spaces. Issues regarding territory and power structures pervade our psyche and the book/exhibition project aims to verbalise and visualise this change in social process and transition. Taking Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood as the background the artists examine the process of what is luxus (luxury).
For this project internationally known photographer Sloan and acclaimed Northern Irish writer Patterson were commissioned to create new images and text, which become the visual and verbal manifestations of this interrogation. The images are primarily from the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, most of which is being turned into new luxury apartments. Located in this area is a strange little bar called ‘Luxus’, a rundown establishment that emits many sentiments but none of them reflect luxury.
In this new work, digital manipulation supersedes the physical mark making of Sloan’s earlier artworks. Instead of the intentional self-made scratches, marks and blemishes for which Sloan is so well known, these new images contain more discreet and subtle changes that would only become obvious to the a viewer who has seen the original photograph. Additionally, the images are blown up to a large scale for the exhibition, producing noise and grain on the surface. The end result lends itself to Sloan’s well-known style, but this time the marks are unintentional and are created digitally rather than by hand. There is an immediacy and spontaneity that capture an impression and feeling of a single moment in a certain time and place. Sloan’s approach to subject matter has not necessarily changed but the process has moved from a physical to digital landscape with work that still very much harnesses the haunted and anxious moods of the artist’s own visual landscape. Sloan has also produced a video piece that can be placed within the context of the redevelopment East Berlin and how specific urban spaces remain authentic and original (or not) with within the contemporary urban development.
For this project Patterson’s observant writing style complements the exhibition’s artwork and concept. Patterson is known for his critical analysis of social interaction within different communities and his poignant and witty commentaries. The text looks at the city of Berlin, the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, the Luxus bar and the people that frequent it. Like a social voyeur Patterson offers the reader an offbeat tour along a less travelled path through one of Europe’s most engaging and remarkable cities, observing the remnants of the DDR, The Second World War and the fascinating characters that exist within this ‘altered state’.
Conor McFeely: Hidden Dips 19 Aug – 24 Sep 2005
MCAC is proud to present ‘Hidden Dips’ an installation by Conor Mc Feely, one of Northern Ireland’s most interesting installation and video artists. Through the use of three-dimensional works, video projection, ultraviolet light and mixed media Mc Feely has created an environment where both meaning and irony co-exist. Although the overall installation is made up of a series of disparate elements they are all interrelated, constructed together as a single unit. A common theme running throughout the show is one of parallel meanings. There are two roads, two ways of seeing, two leaves of conceptual creative processes as well as multiple meanings.
The term ‘Hidden Dips’ is derived from existing traffic signs that warn motorists of invisible depressions and hollows in the road ahead. This relates to the video element of the show, which contains footage of unapproved border roads between the North and the Republic of Ireland, i.e. it is illegal to drive on them. This warning can be read both metaphorically and literally which in turn emphasises the concept of the show where the viewer is presented with the choice of just seeing what is on the surface or to look at what lies beneath.
The notion of conceptually ‘unapproved’ or no go areas are echoed in certain spaces in Craigavon, therefore connecting and making the show more relevant for local viewers while also being a universal theme.
The experience of the work is accessible on various levels not least the aesthetic. And while its intent is serious, at its centre lies an absurdist humour. This again underlines the parallel meanings presented. This is most prominent with the footage of Mc Feely himself (via the use of video post-production) endowed with the power to transmit lightning bolts of energy from a comically enlarged head. The images are broken up by glimpses of the Third Reich that conjure up both feelings of dread and the ridiculous. The video works along parallel lines with the concept of man striving for the power of the superman. Mc Feely also uses photographic images of the Mount Matterhorn in the Pennine Alps, Switzerland, which is associated with both romanticism and fascism again referring to the parallel meaning paradox of ‘Hidden Dips’.
Barbara Freeman & Paul Wilson: Banks of the Bann, 31 Mar – 28 May 2005
Banks of the Bann | Barbara Freeman & Paul Wilson
31 March – 28 May 2005
MCAC is proud to present ‘Banks of the Bann’ the fourth and final of the ‘Inverting Conventions’ exhibitions. This exhibition epitomises the term “Inverting Conventions’ by demonstrating how art can make one see the familiar and mundane through fresh and inquisitive eyes. ‘Banks of the Bann’ is the third collaboration between Belfast based Artist Barbara Freeman and the Downpatrick Composer Paul Wilson. Together they have produced an installation that explores the sounds and images of the River Bann in a way that emphasises the majesty and mystery that surrounds the river.
The exhibition consists of a structure of hanging steel plates, which are wired for sound and connected to a complex of miniature cameras, loudspeakers and a computer system programmed to create sounds triggered by the viewer’s presence. These sounds never repeat themselves and vary in audio-level depending on how close you are to the piece. This creates a natural interaction between the artwork and the viewer. It is a very significant metaphor for the overall show as the installation itself bridges the gap from the outside world of nature and chaos to the gallery space, which tames and investigates these forces. The gallery space in turn bridges the void between art and the viewer, opening them up to a new way of seeing.
Also as part of the exhibition Freeman has created a series of small paintings based on digital photographs of the bridges crossing the Bann at different stages. She creates these paintings with a combination of computer colour analysis and traditional painting methods, a process that merges the acts of both construction and deconstruction.
In his essay for the exhibition catalogue, Art Historian David Brett describes a key element of the installation stating “We never listen half so well as when we are trying to identify the source of the sound. Think of the fugitive at night in a forest”. By using sound as an element of the piece Freeman and Wilson force the viewer to listen beyond what we expect to hear. They do this through a constantly transforming soundtrack that unites poetry, recordings of the river and surrounding noises, which creates the impression that one is hearing the very soul of the river.
This exhibition not only utilises the ability of technology to imitate nature but it also allows nature to express itself within the gallery space. Through this harmony of the art work, gallery space and the viewer, the exhibition gives emphasis to the significance of how art can be part of our everyday lives and we the viewer can take part in the expression of art.
Barbara Freeman has lived in Belfast for the last 25 years she has had many exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her work appears in both public and private collections.
Paul Wilson is a teacher of music technology and composition at Queens University, Belfast and has a growing list of commissions and performances.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition
Eamon O'Kane: The Mobile Museum, Dec 2004 - Jan 2005
THE MOBILE MUSEUM | New Work by Eamon O’Kane
2nd December 2004 – 22nd January 2005
The Millennium Court Arts Centre is proud to present an exhibition of new work by artist Eamon O’Kane. The show presents a wide variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and video.
In response to the MCAC space, O’Kane has created an installation that comprises of a mobile studio space in the form of a shipping crate surrounded by a series of new large-scale paintings of contemporary art museums. The presence of the crate, which looks as if it has contained the paintings of the buildings on the surrounding walls, suggests that the exhibition is still in a state of flux. Inside is evidence of the artist’s practice, which will be added to on a daily basis including drawings sent by post, email printouts and faxes detailing the development of the work during the exhibition. The viewer is given the choice to view the artwork as it is and watching its physical development over the two-month period.
The large monochromatic oil paintings surrounding the crate were created recently while O’Kane was on a residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. This body of work, the ‘Building Series’, is the product of the artist’s research into art and architecture. The series further explores O’Kane’s earlier investigations into the idea of the perfect studio, by depicting ideal destinations for his work, bastions of art such as the Guggenheim and Tate Modern, which are taken out of their urban environments and re-contextualised within nature. By doing this O’Kane causes the soft and irregular organic forms to conflict with the hard decisive architectural forms. By appropriating, simplifying and modifying existing architectural structures the paintings probe the modes of and reasons for the production and dissemination of art works and the nature of the architecture used for these purposes.
Irish Times critic Adian Dunne has written of O’Kane as an “amazingly versatile and prolific artist, adept at pretty much any form or medium he turns his hand to. For his latest exhibition, ‘Studio in the Woods’, [in 2003] he has made a series of paintings that amount to an extended meditation on the notion of an ideal artist's studio, a subject he links to Modernist architects' pursuit of the dream of the ideal building. But the remote, at times forbidding settings of these prototypical studios also raise the question of whether the artist is better placed in an ivory tower or in the midst of social space.” With his MCAC exhibition O’Kane has further developed those ideas.
In Gallery 2 O’Kane displays two video works, ‘Retrospective’ and ‘Mobile Museum’, which are fictive documentations of his work in other galleries and museums. Together with the installation in Gallery 1 these works raise questions about the supposed permanence of architecture and impermanence of art. Every exhibition that goes through a museum becomes almost like a ghost, in relation to the architecture. In museums space itself very rarely changes, internally or externally. It may be refurbished, or an extra wall built, or painted a different colour, but the space is static, while shows continue to flow through it.
With this show, MCAC launches the second of four exhibitions of new work. The series is entitled ‘Inverting Conventions’ and is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland lottery Fund. All of the exhibitions will have a public site-specific element, which ‘invert’ the viewer-participants’ perceptions outside the ‘convention’ of what is a gallery space. This element of ‘Inverting Conventions’ underlines MCAC’s aim to inspire and propel the creative potential of our community. By creating artwork that ‘sits’ outside the gallery space, the artists and MCAC will demonstrate extraordinary appeal in the community and become a vital force for bringing new visitors inside the MCAC and building new audiences for contemporary art.
In response to these ideas, Part Three of the exhibition will take place outside of the galleries, with a series of signs positioned in the surrounding Craigavon area. The signs will present quotes relating to art and architecture, challenging concepts and relevancy in today’s society.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with essay by Niamh Ann Kelly
Alice Maher: Portraits, 9 - 30 Sep 2003
PORTRAITS | Alice Maher
9 - 30 September, 2003
Maher presents us with' ... a dreamy, oddly recognisable world of magical transformation, endless possibilities and exceptional violence.' Aidan Dunne - The Irish Times.
' ... that sting in the tale, that way of making common place things seem rare or oddly beautiful.' Ros Drinkwater- The Sunday Business Post
The Millennium Court Arts Centre is delighted to present 'Portraits', an exhibition of new work by one of Irelands' leading artists, Alice Maher. MCAC is fortunate to have obtained this opportunity to bring Maher's most recent photographic images to Portadown. 'Portraits', only previously exhibited in Dublin and London, signals Maher's return to Northern Ireland with her first solo show here since 1995.
Alice Maher is an artist much associated with her extraordinary use of natural, found materials to construct what has been described as ' . .. objects that both threaten and exhilarate by holding out the possibility of breaking all the rules.'-Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times. Religious iconography, mythology, fairytale and folklore have typically informed her artistic process. In this new series of photographic work, Maher re-appropriates natural material and evokes a sense of the "uncanny", to construct twelve singular, startling tableaux.
Using Renaissance portraiture as a reference and herself as the subject, Maher uses found materials to extend, transform and transgress her own body; a protagonist, in a sometimes macabre scene, encroached by nature. These unusual manifestations incorporate a duality that is integral in much of her work. They are images invested with a terrible and profound knowledge of the natural world and yet, many of the portraits express a wry humour at what is happening to the artist herself. As artist and subject, Maher becomes a bemused player in various stages of metamorphosis that occurs as the body coughs up its complex imaginings.
Brian Kennedy: Passage, Feb - Mar 2006
Passage | New Work by Brian Kennedy
9 February- 18 March 2006
MCAC is proud to present ‘Passage’ an exhibition of new work by international artist Brian Kennedy. As an artist Kennedy covers a broad spectrum of mediums including performance, sculpture, photography and installation. For his new installation, which has been made specifically for the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Kennedy will explore the concept of a journey. Integral to Kennedy’s work, the journey can be a physical one to a new country but it can also be a journey through the mind, time and place.
Last year, during a residency in Berlin, Kennedy investigated the art of Romanticism and Symbolism and how it placed a greater importance in creating a recognizable symbol rather than creating a revered painting. In this case the symbol Kennedy has chosen to represent the journey is skeletal frame of a curragh (kindly on loan to MCAC from Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association & Community Foundation for Northern Ireland) hanging from the ceiling of Gallery 1 and surrounded by a series of large-scale cardboard islands. The boat was a symbol often used by the Romantic and Symbolist painters. The strange sails of ships arriving after a long voyage appear in the work of German Romantic, Caspar David Friedrich. Another example is the boat carrying a body to the island of the dead by the Swiss Symbolist painter Arnold Bocklin. The island pieces surrounding the boat emit a sound installation of wind and water creating the haunting atmosphere of a ghost ship, conjuring romantic images of the poem ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the ‘Marie Celeste’ within the gallery space.
After leaving college Kennedy worked as a lobster fisherman, fishing in a curragh under the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare. The boat, more than any other form of transport, represents for him a way of discovery. Islands are another element that has fascinated him. The islands that appear in this artist’s visual landscape range from islands off the west coast of Ireland seen from the curragh, or those he saw last year around New Zealand. Earlier this year Brian documented the famous Twelve Apostles and other islands along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. The installation at MCAC is designed to both bring together and explore these various elements.
In Gallery 2 there will be an exhibition of photographs of golden eggs. Kennedy uses the golden egg to document his travels. Sometimes the egg is used to highlight a beautiful shape, as in the boulder rocks in New Zealand. At other times it becomes a decorative element as seen in photographs from Chinatown in San Francisco. In photographs from an Etruscan burial site the eggs refer to a sense of history; while those on top of a termite mound highlight strange shapes in the red desert of Australia. The pieces are real gilded hard-boiled eggs and are always left behind for others to discover and make of them what they will.
This show is the third and final exhibition in the ‘Human Condition: Human Responses’ series celebrating the human desire for adventure, discovery and enlightenment.