BELFAST-BASED ARTISTS DOUGAL MCKENZIE, SUSAN CONNOLLY AND MARK MCGREEVY DISCUSS THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON PAINTING IN THE CITY.
Dougal McKenzie: From my experience, so much of what has happened for painters in Belfast coalesces around the MFA. When I discovered that Alastair MacLennan – who was the MFA course leader in my time – had been a painting student at Dundee (although I was coming from Aberdeen), I was interested in how he thought about painting in relation to performance. I wonder how much the MFA affected, and continues to affect, how we see painting in the North, and whether it truly does have any more of an influence than the undergraduate painting course in Belfast?
As an undergraduate student in Scotland I only knew about the MFA in Belfast, outside of the London options, and it seemed like an exciting choice. I very quickly discovered that painters who had come out of the MFA in the late 1980s and early 1990s had remained in the city, in what was an active arts scene. The interesting painters for me at that time were (and still are) Paddy McCann, Ronnie Hughes, Michael Minnis and Áine Nic Giolla Coda, so they seemed like one good reason to stay. (Interestingly, these artists are all still teaching painting, at Belfast, Sligo, Galway and Limerick.)