Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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for The Arts in Northern Ireland

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Willie Doherty

Friday 24th May 2013 at 11am

Video: Willie Doherty talks about a major retrospective exhibition of Derry 2013 part of the Arts Council's City of Culture Investment

Northern Ireland produces influential artists from across the arts, many of whom enjoy worldwide recognition.  Willie Doherty is one of Northern Ireland’s highest-profile artists and an established name in the international contemporary visual art scene

Willie Doherty was born in Derry~Londonderry in 1959 and he continues to live and work in that city.  He first came to prominence in the 1980s when he exhibited a series of powerful photographic works overlaid with text.  These works, like all his subsequent photographic and video work, explore the complexities of living in a divided community, especially in his native Northern Ireland.  Much of his work refers to an undercurrent of fear, oppression and uncertainty that for many was a daily experience of life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.  Doherty has twice been shortlisted for the Turner Prize, once in 1994 and again in 2003.


Doherty's work has been displayed in solo exhibitions around the world. He has represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1993, Great Britain at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 2003 and in 2007 he was selected to represent Northern Ireland at the 52nd International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, the oldest event of its kind in the world and the leading international showcase for art. This solo exhibition at the 2007 Biennale, titled ‘Ghost Story’ and curated by leading Northern Ireland curator, Hugh Mulholland, was supported by the Arts Council and the British Council Northern Ireland. In its six-month run in Venice, the exhibition attracted more than 40,000 visitors, helping to establish Northern Ireland contemporary visual arts on the world map and to boost our growing status as a highly creative, modern European region.


Willie Doherty receives a major retrospective of his work in his hometown in October 2013, as part of Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.  ‘Unseen’, curated by Matt’s Gallery, London with the Nerve Centre, Derry, showcases the artist’s most important video installations plus new photographic and video pieces made especially for the exhibition.

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