ROB HILKEN OUTLINES THE CHALLENGES OF THE UNIVERSAL CREDIT SYSTEM FOR ARTISTS IN NORTHERN IRELAND. Artists in Northern Ireland are being challenged by a range of uncertainties. Brexit is casting a looming shadow, but with so many unknowns about the nature of any withdrawal agreement, it is very hard to put plans in place that will mitigate against potentially negative impacts. But even before Brexit comes into effect, there is another issue that is already having a significant impact on the livelihoods of artists in Northern Ireland – that of the United Kingdom’s new benefits scheme, called Universal Credit. Universal Credit is the new ‘simplified’ benefits system that combines Jobseekers
DECLAN LONG PRESENTS AN OVERVIEW OF THE KERLIN GALLERY’S 30-YEAR HISTORY. “Places you can go for free, run by strange people with visions who want to help artists by showing and selling their work”: this was Jerry Saltz, the New York art world’s notorious, necessary gadfly, writing in praise of Chelsea galleries right after Hurricane Sandy had flooded basements, damaged exhibition spaces and indiscriminately destroyed countless works of art. Galleries come and go; we might love them or loathe them; but in that moment of devastation, Saltz felt a need to make a stirring case for their defence: fundamentally, he said, “I love them. All. More than ever.” Free places,
CHRISTOPHER STEENSON DISCUSSES SOME OF THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR ARTISTS IN SECURING STUDIO SPACES. The words “artist” and “studio” seem to go hand-in-hand. If you are one, you need one. Workspaces can sometimes be as revered as the artists themselves. Just look at Francis Bacon – his studio was deemed so significant that conservators at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane painstakingly moved its entire contents from its original location in 7 Reece Mews in London. An extreme example, but, as outlined in other articles featured in this issue, studios are an important – if not essential – part of an artist’s practice. Studios aren’t just a place for making
Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast 19 July – 25 August 2018 Bare interior. Protruding grey stage. Stage set in darkness. Curtains drawn. Centre left of stage, she stands, faintly lit, from close-up and below She is enveloped from head to foot in black. Behind She, the Other emerges out of darkness. Motionless off stage three Narrators stand, facing directly across from the stage. They face front, without deviation, throughout. An invisible microphone sits beneath each mouth. Their speech is prompted by a pronounced breath. Each voice toneless, except where an expression is indicated.
CHRISTOPHER STEENSON REPORTS ON SONORITIES FESTIVAL – AN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC AND SOUND ART FESTIVAL THAT TOOK PLACE IN BELFAST FROM 17 TO 22 APRIL. If someone asked you where they might find a week-long, international festival dedicated to the latest developments in experimental music and sound art, you might recommend somewhere like Berlin. But since 1981, when Sonorities was founded at Queen’s University (QUB) as a “festival of twentieth century music”, Belfast has been just the place for an exploration of all things sonic. This year’s Sonorities Festival, which featured artists from over 40 countries, made a conscious effort to be more inclusive and open to the general public. By
Ulster Museum, Belfast 11 May – 23 September 2018 ‘Headland’ is a major exhibition of recent paintings by Elizabeth Magill, powerfully displayed across two large gallery spaces at Belfast’s Ulster Museum. Developed in partnership with Limerick City Gallery of Art and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (both of which have hosted the exhibition already), ‘Headland’ has finally come to Belfast and will by no means disappoint those who have long anticipated its arrival. The exhibition, which presents 24 landscape paintings, draws attention to Magill as one of the region’s finest painters. The bare limbs of trees dominate the dimly-lit gallery spaces, twisting their way across the majority of the works
BEN WEIR OUTLINES HIS RECENT BOOK, PUBLISHED IN RESPONSE TO URBAN REDEVELOPMENT IN BELFAST CITY CENTRE. “The Claw is the blind performer It cannot speculate, judge Nor wince Steadfast Choreographed Dull acts Mechanised Strength Hastening Iconoclastic Labour Blunt-cleft Buildings open Exposing truths The Claw can’t read Crimes in plain sight An austere vandal.”
Ulster Museum, Belfast, 10 February – 3 September 2017 There’s an implicit understanding of the museum’s finite resources and loaded remit when viewing a permanent collection show. The limited pool from which these exhibitions are curated often leads to a loose circle being drawn around the works, its content used to simultaneously demonstrate and educate. It becomes a balance of signposting and illustrating, where singular artworks are laden with significance, denoting the development of an artist’s full career or even those of their peers. When seen repeatedly in different configurations, pieces can easily be experienced as historical artefacts rather than artworks. The spectrum of contact an audience will have with
Clare Strand, Belfast Exposed, 28 April – 17 June In ‘Snake’ the image is an interloper. At first unwelcome, it is nonetheless invited into the artist’s life for the long term. Clare Strand’s repulsion with the animal has compelled her to collect snake imagery since childhood, from scrapbooking serpentine forms in the loosest sense, to collecting more specific images – half glamour, half family-album-style photographs – of women who hold and love them.
Locky Morris, Naughton Gallery, Belfast, 8 December 2016 – 29 January 2017 Clock speaker radio, printed mug, foam lining, laser crystal photo frame, photograph, hand cleanser dispenser, sunglasses, workshop broom, photograph, tilt display stand, C-print aluminium plate, mounted photographs, pigmy light, screw, rotating photo cube, painted MDF pedestal display case, photographs, city centre paving block, mounted photographs, cardboard box, office cabinet (adapted), adapted digital photo frame, JPEG, adapted shelf, five-litre Poundstretcher utility box, spool of thread, photograph, plate stand, plastic strips for wall plugs, wall plugs, cable ties, small plate stand, four-gang extension lead, night light, cotton buds, acrylic paint tube, decorating clips, mounted photograph.