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One week left to view the Portrait of Northern Ireland exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery

Friday 29th October 2021 at 12pm 0 Comments

The ‘Portrait of Northern Ireland - Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto’ Exhibition, supported by the Northern Ireland Office as part of its Centenary programme, remains open to the public until 4 November at Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery. This major art exhibition showcases over 100 pieces of art, featuring the people and places that have defined Northern Ireland over the past 100 years.

A number of the works on show have been borrowed from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Contemporary Collection including works by Carol Graham, Ursula Burke, Colin Davidson, Ian Cumberland, Emma Connolly, Donovan Wylie and Brendan Jamison among others.

Showcasing art from the 1920s to the present day, the exhibition demonstrates the diversity and quality of art from Northern Ireland and represents artists’ responses to our geographical, social and political landscape.

Taking its subtitle from curator John Hewitt’s poem, neither an elegy nor a manifesto, this exhibition is neither a lament for nor a celebration of Northern Ireland. Instead, it shows how the artists who were born or have worked in this part of the world have responded to the particular and universal experience of the people who live here. The exhibition demonstrates how visual representations of the narratives of Northern Ireland can alter our own perceptions of the landscape and of ourselves.

Visitors will also be able to view an extraordinary array of works by artists including Paul Henry, William Scott, Joy Gerrard, Willie Doherty and Susan McWilliams, with Turner Prize nominees included alongside emerging artists from Belfast School of Art. Many of the works in the show have not been available for public view for many years.

Curated by Shan McAnena, the Portrait of Northern Ireland exhibition is a collaboration between the Northern Ireland Office, the Government Art Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Ulster University Belfast School of Art as part of the wider cultural programme of the Northern Ireland Centenary.

An expert panel of representatives from these organisations and many of the leading Northern Ireland galleries, has ensured that the exhibition features an inclusive and varied range of artwork and exhibits.

Curator Shan McAnena said,

“It has been a privilege to bring together these beautiful and profound works and acknowledge the contribution of many of the key artists who have emerged from this part of the world over the past 100 years.

"The works in the exhibition give a sense of the development of fine art practice here since the 1920s and capture artists’ responses to the landscape and experience, both particular and universal, of the people who have lived in this place and who continue to make Northern Ireland their home.”

Head of Belfast School of Art, Louise O’Boyle, added,

“This exhibition is a great introduction to artworks created in Northern Ireland past and present. Indeed, the emerging artists’ work from Belfast School of Art graduates on show demonstrates just how vibrant and intriguing the current contemporary art scene is here. Local, but very much with national and global impact and reach!”

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of NI began collecting in 1943 and has watched the development of artists living and working in Northern Ireland since then. Many things have changed in our society over the years, but the importance of purchasing contemporary work as a means of supporting artists and developing a culture in which visual art is appreciated remains the same. This exhibition is a rich visual treat for viewers because such a range of work is brought together and we are delighted that many works from our Collection are on show as part of this wider exhibition. I would encourage everyone to go along.”

The exhibition continues until Thursday 4th November, with late opening on the final evening for Late-Night Art Belfast.

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