,'Standing at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall at 11.00 am on 11th November, 2018 I thought of many things and how many of those things had changed in Northern Ireland since (and perhaps because of ) the First World War. Standing with local dignitaries, MLAs and Councillors was Tanaiste Simon Coveney. He laid a wreath of behalf of the Irish Government and this gesture speaks to how WW1 has become one way in which reconciliation and understanding of our complex history can be articulated. More personally, I remembered, again, Frank Ritchie, 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who died in France 1918. Now that this significant centenary of 1914 - 18 has passed. I wonder who and what we will remember next year - and how?
It has been a busy month - enrolling at Queen's University Belfast and delivering my first talk as part of the project Women, Aging and Film. My talk featured a series of small scale paintings depicting women who never got to make it as older actors - for many reasons - most of them dark. The event was supported by the School of Social Sciences, the School of Arts, English and Languages and Arts Council Northern Ireland. Under normal circumstances, I will be located within the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and focusing on all things relating to memorials. Looking forward to it!
Things are memorable in different ways , for different reasons. I knew the films of Orson Wells, but nothing about his lifelong passion for drawing and painting. Cousin's beautiful film inspired me to do more with my sketchbooks - they are not just for scribbling to do lists! I don't think I will forget yesterday. Like a scene from a film, a reminder of how Belfast must have been in the Blitz, or the Troubles, smoke billowed from the old Bank Buildings in the city centre. Today, this 233 year old building is just a burnt out shell. It has served the city as a bank, a department store and for a long time was the site of public executions. For as long as I can remember it has housed Primark retail. I had my purse stolen there whilst Christmas shopping some years ago - I won't forget that - but the memory does not diminish my love for the building. I hope it is restored.
Another great research trip to Berlin and - new for me - Leipzig. From the crumbling remains of Anhalter station to the vast expanse of Gatow airfield there is always a sense of history in Berlin. I took a few days out to go to Leipzig to see the 91 metre tall monument to the Battle of the Nations or Volkerschlachdenkmal for those who like a spelling challenge! The monument was complete in 1913 - one hundred years after the defeat of Napoleon. Well worth the climb to the top for panoramic views of Leipzig and worth remembering that despite its re-purposing by the Third Reich, it is now a monument for peace.
Two trips to London within ten days - just too much to see and do! The first trip was to see the Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11 exhibition at the IWM before it finished and to do some specific research on war memorials. It was great to see the newly installed sculpture of Millicent Fawcett by Gillian Wearing at Parliament Square. The IWM exhibition was a mixed bag but I did appreciate the intimacy of Grayson Perry's tapestry which addressed the fate of modern veterans sympathetically. I spent a lot of time around Whitehall and Hyde Park Corner with Jagger's immense Royal Artillery memorial and the Australian War memorial which couldn't have been more different. I am still thinking about the memorial to Bomber Command. The second trip was to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Victoria Park - but images of that will have to wait for another post. I am still thinking about that too!
April was a busy month and a difficult one with so many funding cuts for the arts sector , no local government to lobby and no sign of the weather improving! In these circumstances there is only one thing to do - get away from it all if you can and seek inspiration elsewhere. It was wonderful to head back to Munich for a few days with a specific agenda - Kiki Smith at the Haus Der Kunst . Part retrospective and part new work it was a reminder of how Smith has influenced and inspired so many artists , myself included. The exhibition was stunning, the weather great and I am back to Belfast inspired and a little tanned!
The madness of March! The Beast from the East blew with some fury causing arctic conditions and it was tempting to stay at home but dogs still needed to be walked even if it felt like a Siberian stroll. A welcome respite from the weather allowed for a weekend trip to Rathlin Island before the elements closed in again. There was some good news - the daffodils survived and my leaking studio roof is finally fixed! Looking forward to Spring!
It has been a freezing February! Despite the temptation to hibernate into Spring, there is too much art going on to stay indoors. This month I saw the Gilbert and George exhibition the 'Scapegoating Pictures' at the MAC, street art in the Cathedral Quarter and yarn bombing near the art college campus. The second iteration of Concerning the Other will open at QSS Bedford Street on 1 March. All of the above made me ponder the nature of collaboration; scale versus substance; budgets available to artists and what can be done with very little money. I will not be drawn on how these thoughts apply to the above images - you decide!
Great to get some professional documentation of And This Too by Tony Corey. I think overall, we covered a lot of ground in this exhibition about conflict from Brendan Jamison's Drone Strike pieces to Jill Gibbon's performative interventions at International Arms Fairs. Mark Revel's darkly satirical and sexualised canon provoked strong responses as did Ciaran Magill's painterly reflections of growing up in the Troubles. Sean Campbell's deconstructed American Flag started to reconstruct itself as symbols and hieroglyphs across the walls and in the end, all of the work had relevant and distinct things to say about war.
This is where you will find news about exhibitions, projects, events, other artists, travels, experimental work and sometimes things that I just enjoyed seeing! I hope you enjoy them too!