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2018 in Photos

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Exhibition Highlights 2018

These five exhibitions are in chronological order and are only my favourites of the shows I was able to attend in person. There were many that I was dying to see but in the end, couldn’t make.


WHITE

Curated by Colin Darke

QSS Gallery, Belfast

02/02/18 - 22/02/18

This was the fourth group show curated by Colin Darke that was based upon the four titles of Barnett Newman paintings (“Whose Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue”). According to the text accompanying the exhibition, linking works in accordance with colour “allows for a level of visual cohesion, while retaining the conceptual and aesthetic diversity that defines Queen Street Studios”. Ordinarily white, in a gallery context, inhabits the space between works. In this show however you become strangely aware of the normally silent walls. In Craig Donald’s installation “Ozymandias” sections of the gallery wall are set centre stage; framed by colours that correlate in other drawings and paintings within the installation. You become aware of the void.


Nightfall - amplissium terrarum tractum

David Godbold

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

03/02/18 - 10/03/18

This group exhibition by David Godbold in the Golden Thread Gallery really was a stunner. In gallery one, the works that give the name of the show, “Nightfall - Amplissium terrarum tractum” takes up an entire wall. Consisting of 116 framed drawings and a wall drawing in neon, I found myself getting drawn into the gorgeous and witty drawings usually accompanied with text loaded with humour and a certain political sting. Then all of a sudden I would walk backwards, trying to take in the sheer audacious scale of the work as a whole. I was especially taken by the drawing with the text "Infamy, infamy, everybody’s got it in for me” - a one liner from “Carry on Cleo” which my dad regularly cries aloud. Gallery two sees landscapes, beautifully painted and paired off with one in daylight and the other at night. Showing these romantic locations at different times of the day means you can never fully see the region in its entirety.


Future Perfect - Contemporary Art from Germany

Curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler

The Model, Sligo

06/05/18 - 01/07/18

During a summer break down to Sligo it would have been rude not to visit some of the galleries. This travelling group show did not disappoint. Sixteen artists envision and speculate about the future and reflect on the promises it could bring. The installation of Nora Schultz called “Discovery of the Primitive” reminded me of a transportable monolith like the one in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Schultz gathers found objects from around her Berlin studio to assemble these delicate structures that also double as printmaking stations. It dominated the room and sticks in the memory. Antje Majewski’s paintings were impressive in scale and in detail. The lengthy title “Decorative element that once adorned a passage leading to a shrine” was a large circular painting consisting of smaller overlapped orbs of differing gold and green. The same ‘decorative element’ makes a cameo in the even larger painting - more akin to history painting of old. “The Donation” sees a large group of people witnessing an exchange in what looks like a gallery with warped dimensions and off kilter paintings on the wall.


At the gates of the Music Palace

Alex Cecchetti

Curated by Mary Cremin

VOID Gallery, Derry-Londonderry

04/08/18 - 22/09/18

I was lucky enough to see this show on the opening night where the artist Alex Cecchetti was giving a guided tour of the works. A serial collaborator almost all of the works came to fruition as a result of Cecchetti working with musicians, dancers and singers. The first gallery was bathed in a pink light with two large copper cones suspended at the far end. If you move across the sensors musical notes are played and according to different gestures you can actually play music. Cecchetti and a dancer then played a piece of music they composed by dancing in front of the “Music Hall” installation. Gallery 2 held a sound installation entitled “Cetaceans” where a human choir sang like whales. This room was in darkness and you were encouraged to lay down and let the sounds wash over you. The third room had my favourite piece of collaborative work by Cecchetti. Oil paintings on crystal and rise paper hangs from a structure surrounding a piano meaning when people from the tour poured in and no matter where they stood they could see the works on the paper - even from the back where I stood. A synesthetic musician then sat at the piano and read the works like a sheet of music. Even by just watching the paintings you could follow the musician as they played and I found it totally engrossing. Probably the best show featuring audience participation I’ve seen.


Not Half Right

Jane McCormick

Atypical Gallery, Belfast

12/11/18 - 21/12/18

I stumbled into the Atypical gallery on my way to see the MAC international exhibition (which had incredible works by Ali Cherri, Aisling O’Beirn and the winner Nikolaus Gansterer) and hadn’t any preconceived notions what “Not Half Right” by Jane McCormick contained. What I came across was an incredibly strong practice that explores deeply personal and intimate issues in a scarily wide range of media. Medicine bottles with text and images of children replaced the label. A heart shaped box with tablets instead of chocolates resonated with me. It was humorous and darkly menacing at the same time. Is it a comment on today’s ‘there’s a pill for that’ culture, a love note to how medication has helped the artist or something else? You can’t help but bring your own experience to the work here. The self portrait drawings on what McCormick calls “useless articles and medically-related tat” are visceral, bold and expresses the frustrating and tiring nature of the “never ending search for ‘the cure’”.

RDH: 27/05/18 - 30/06/18

27/25/18

Munk Debates

NB:- "Imprint": washes over selected charcoal marks makes for a more painterly and softer outcome whilst still retaining the drawing element - it's just not as overwhelming.  Marrying the two worlds.  Artistically I'm in a good place.  It's utilising time more effectively.

28/05/18

On Hodler's "Night":  covered figure personifies death as an intensification of sleep.  On the back of the canvas Hodler wrote: "There is many a people who lies down to rest in the evening but who does not wake up in the morning."

"Night" by Ferdinand Hodler - 1899/90 -  Museum of Fine Arts Bern

"Night" by Ferdinand Hodler - 1899/90 - Museum of Fine Arts Bern

"Riot" and "Chidren of the Stage" started.

"Children of the Stage" - early progress.

"Children of the Stage" - early progress.

Haven't painted on board in two years.  Keep forgetting how forgiving the surface is.

"Riot" piece started.

"Riot" piece started.

29/05/18

Hot air balloon in trouble over Draperstown medical centre.

Hot air balloon in trouble over Draperstown medical centre.

Started small canvas of "Cult" drawing I did five years ago.  Been a long time but its always good to keep everything - just in case.

"Cult" painting in progress.

"Cult" painting in progress.

30/05/18

Let's see what happens.

02/06/18

Playing about with "The Mountain of the Heights" - particularly the sky.  Intangible so the marks should be also.

Early layers of sky

Early layers of sky

03/06/18

"Rosetta II" by Jenny Saville - oil on watercolour paper mounted on board - 2005/06

"Rosetta II" by Jenny Saville - oil on watercolour paper mounted on board - 2005/06

"I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies." - Jenny Saville.

A.F. born today.

More progress in the sky of "The Mountain of the Heights".

More progress in the sky of "The Mountain of the Heights".

04/06/18

"The Mountain of the Heights" and "Imprint" on the studio wall.

"The Mountain of the Heights" and "Imprint" on the studio wall.

05/06/18

Notes from a previous workshop:

  • Turn off distractions

  • Centred space

  • Give yourself permission to move your practice forward.

  • Elevator pitch - needs work.

  • Find focus and priorities.

  • Studio days - regimented routine.

  • Be persistent and consistent.

  • Find unproductive habits + break them.

  • Defend creative time.

  • Slow down and hear your own ideas.

"Creativity is not a talent - it's a way of operating." - John Cleese

When you value serendipity, you start noticing it at work right away.

07/06/18

Awarded iDA from Atypical Gallery and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland!

09/06/18

Degree show work entitled "My Darlene" by photographer Ryan Hamilton.

Degree show work entitled "My Darlene" by photographer Ryan Hamilton.

Installation shot from Stephanie Tanney's degree show. Not unlike Holder's shrouded figure.

Installation shot from Stephanie Tanney's degree show. Not unlike Holder's shrouded figure.

A close up of one of Karl Hagan's stunning paintings at the  Belfast School of Art  degree show.

A close up of one of Karl Hagan's stunning paintings at the Belfast School of Art degree show.

One of Aimee Melaugh's atmospheric paintings at her degree show.

One of Aimee Melaugh's atmospheric paintings at her degree show.

Saw a lot of art.  A LOT OF ART.

Belfast School of Art degree show was fantastic but there were four stand out artists:

Ryan Hamilton in photography.

Stephanie Tanney in sculpture.

Karl Hagan in painting

Aimee Melaugh in painting.

The Golden Thread Gallery group exhibition "After an Act" was great.

"Submerge Form (Red)" by  Deb Covell  - 2017

"Submerge Form (Red)" by Deb Covell - 2017

David Moore's show in Belfast Exposed was really interesting.

The back wall of David Moore's exhibition entitled "Lisa and John" in Belfast Exposed.

The back wall of David Moore's exhibition entitled "Lisa and John" in Belfast Exposed.

10/06/18

Whiterocks beach just outside Portrush.

Whiterocks beach just outside Portrush.

11/06/18

Zero energy.  There are not enough hours in the day.  Structure.  Guilty of putting off work because of convenience.

Some sketchbook work done today but not enough.

Some sketchbook work done today but not enough.

13/06/18

Is yellow is the colour of hope?

"Selvportrett I Helvvette" by Edvard Munch - 1903 -  The Munch Museum, Oslo

"Selvportrett I Helvvette" by Edvard Munch - 1903 - The Munch Museum, Oslo

16/06/18

"Painting 1946" by Francis Bacon. Part of the  MoMA  collection.

"Painting 1946" by Francis Bacon. Part of the MoMA collection.

Bacon was fascinated by butcher shops as a child.  The figure in the painting said to be pre-war Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain - known for carrying an umbrella.  This work is raw power, beauty and horror rolled in one.

My painter's table of 8 years.

My painter's table of 8 years.

18/06/18

Detail of "Cult" painting in progress.

Detail of "Cult" painting in progress.

Paint/draw with purpose.  Reasons - just because I can't pin them down doesn't mean they aren't there.

20/06/18

Lubaina Himid - take a "given history" from found objects and then "paint a history on them that isn;t as much talked about."  Daytime can't be squandered - every hour counts.

23/06/18

Bonnie keeping me company in the studio today.

Bonnie keeping me company in the studio today.

Painted pretty much up to 10pm tonight,.  Stuck in the zone.

24/06/18

Jan enjoying the sunset at Rosses Point, Sligo.

Jan enjoying the sunset at Rosses Point, Sligo.

Trip to Rosses Point.  So hot too and great to bump into Rob and Sally.  Small world.

25/06/18

View of "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" in the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo.

View of "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" in the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo.

Great to see familiar names (Lisa Ballard, Alison Pilkington and Clement McAleer) in the Hamilton Gallery's group exhibition 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'.

One of my favourite pieces in the Hamilton Gallery had to be "Spirit of the Aviator" by  Brian McDonagh .

One of my favourite pieces in the Hamilton Gallery had to be "Spirit of the Aviator" by Brian McDonagh.

26/06/18

Trip to The Model in Sligo town before home.  A wonderful space.

Outside The Model, Sligo.

Outside The Model, Sligo.

Massive painting by  Antje Majewski  in the "Future Perfect" exhibition, The Model, Sligo

Massive painting by Antje Majewski in the "Future Perfect" exhibition, The Model, Sligo

28/06/18

Close up of "Cult" - Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

Close up of "Cult" - Oil and Charcoal on Canvas

Slowly getting back into the rhythm of working again.  Finished "Cult".  The small child is considerably creepier than expected.  More work to "Mountain of the Heights" - been looking at Cezanne's multiple treatments of Mont Sainte-Victoire for some sort of guidance.

Getting there with "The Mountain of the Heights".

Getting there with "The Mountain of the Heights".

Extremely hot in the studio - close to 30°C.

30/06/18

I have Sickert's "Ennui" on my mind. 

"Ennui" by Walter Richard Sickert - 1914 - part of  Tate Collection

"Ennui" by Walter Richard Sickert - 1914 - part of Tate Collection