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Field trip visits

In addition to a stimulating range of peer-led sessions, facilitated discussion and workshops, Summer School 2015 included field trips to galleries, museums and art centres, such as the MAC, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast Exposed, Ulster Museum, as well as artist studios and artist-led project spaces. 

Delegates were also able to attend an optional day trip to Derry/Londonderry to visit contemporary arts venues CCA and Void on Friday 11 September.

Tuesday 8 September - The Mac
Wednesday 9 September - Artist studios, spaces & galleries

Thursday 10 September - Ulster Museum
Friday 11 September - Derry / Londonderry

Tuesday 8 September: Gallery Visit 

Hugh Mulholland, Curator and Learning and Participation Officer Ciaran McQuillan met delegates and gave a tour of the MAC Galleries, including exhibitions on display - Paddy McCann: Black Quarter, and Barbara Freeman: Drifting the Bann and spoke about the MAC’s learning programme.

The Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) opened its doors to the public in 2012. It is now one of the biggest and most ambitious cross-artform organisations in Ireland, with three galleries devoted to contemporary art. MAC has staged exhibitions by artists such as Robert Therrien, Peter Doig, Andy Warhol, and, in 2014, hosted the first major exhibition of Kara Walker’s work in the UK and Ireland. Beyond the galleries MAC also houses two theatres, education and corporate spaces, resident companies, and a café and bar. In 2015 the MAC was shortlisted for the Museum of the Year prize, with sponsor The Art Fund stating that “Belfast’s new arts venue presented an outstanding programme in 2014 and established itself as a world-class attraction”.

Paddy McCann is known as a printmaker and sculptor, but pre-eminently as a painter. He is passionate about art, political in his choice of themes, and poetic even in translating uncomfortable memories into the form of hues and tones. His painting expands the merging of the figurative and the abstract by harnessing synecdoche as a willing trope. This major exhibition, Black Quarter, will position McCann as the most significant painter of his generation - presenting both previous seminal works alongside new paintings related to his birthplace.

In the past the Barbara Freeman has created many visual/sound installations, always responding to particular places both as a physical space and a sonic environment. Drifting the Bann is her first film and it follows the course of the River Bann in Northern Ireland - with a montage of images and sounds, she creates a poetic vision in both space and time that expresses aspects of culture in relation to place. “A place is not just a physical space but also a collection of emotions, meditations and memories. Sometimes we look with our ears and listen with eyes”.

The MAC, 10 Exchange Street West, Belfast BT1 2NJ
www.themaclive.com  +44(0)28 9023 5053


Wednesday 9 September: Studios & Artist-led Venues Visual Artists Ireland, Platform, Creative Exchange, Flax, Golden Thread Gallery

Rob Hilken, Manager, Visual Artists Ireland [NI] led an afternoon of visits to three key studios and artist-led organisations, to introduce the group to the provision for artists in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Delegates met artists, viewed studios and exhibition spaces, and talked along the way about how local artists work within the city and their communities.

Rob also spoke about the work of Visual Artists Ireland [NI], who support artists to develop professionally through an active membership and programme. During the afternoon, the group saw a little more of the city - traversing from the Cathedral Quarter to East Belfast.

The final stop on the tour was a visit to Golden Thread Gallery. Peter Richards, Gallery Director and Ruth Graham, Development Officer (and SS13 delegate) met the group, introduced their current performance art exhibition and led a discussion about the gallery’s extensive engagement work. 

Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) is the representative body for visual artists in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, offering support through advocacy, advice and membership. VAI’s services are focused on supporting individual professional visual artists, as well as people and organisations who either work in or interact with the arts as part of their business.

As a membership organisation, VAI acts as a central point where members can make contact with experienced professionals for peer-support. They also offer a locally based professional development programme, with mentoring, workshops and clinics. VAI focus on learning while promoting skill development and professional growth – and this support gives artists the opportunity to build a broad foundation of key business skills, and specific knowledge and dialogue around the various aspects of artistic practice.

Visual Artists Ireland, Central Hotel Chambers, 7/9 Dame Court, Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 (0)1 672 9488 www.visualartists.ie    
Visual Artists NI, 109 - 113 Royal Avenue, Belfast, BT1 1FF www.visualartists-ni.org

Platform is an artist-led studio group and contemporary art gallery in Belfast’s city centre, who actively promote creative expression, presentation and access to contemporary art practice through their exhibition, education and studio programmes. Their project space, Unit, provides opportunities for smaller interventions, exhibitions and installations. Platform also host annual residencies for art graduates providing them with the opportunity to focus on developing their work outside an academic setting.

Platform is run by a voluntary rolling Board of Directors comprising working artists and visual art professionals, and is committed to widening access to contemporary art in Northern Ireland.

Platform, 1 Queen St, Belfast BT1 6EA www.platformartsbelfast.com +44(0)28 9031 1301

Creative Exchange Artist Studios was founded in 1996, and has grown into a dynamic Belfast based visual arts studio collective of contemporary painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, public art practitioners and lens-based artists. Their vision is to contribute to the development of Belfast city through the provision of artist studio spaces, an innovative digital hub, a specialised ceramic studio and the management of an annual arts programme of exhibitions and showcase events, such as their annual ‘Art in the Eastside’ Billboard Project. This visual and community art inspired project, is the largest of its kind in Ireland, showcasing local, national and international artists as well as having a strong socially engaged aspect.

Creative Exchange also engage in dedicated education and outreach activities, with special emphasis with their own community in East Belfast. 

Creative Exchange, Unit B4 Portview Trade Centre, 310 Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 1HE   www.creativeexchange.org.uk   +44(0)28 9045 2299

Flax Art Studios was established in 1989 and has a track record of over 24 years working at the cutting edge of contemporary art in Belfast. The ethos of engaging in art - in, about and of the city - is a legacy of which the Board of Directors, Staff, Studio Holders and Artists are supportive and proud of. Flax provides a unique resource enabling artists to create large-scale sculptural, installation and experimentation works for artists whose work engages with the city: Studio space and a place to work for professional artists is vital to ensure that artists continue to have the resources to live and work in Belfast, otherwise we risk artists leaving Belfast and threatening the valuable contribution they make to the city of Belfast.

Flax provides space to some of the most exciting artists in Northern Ireland including; Alastair MacLennan, Barbara Freeman, Aisling O’Beirn, Philip Napier, Mike Hogg, Tony Hill, Una Walker, Johanna Leech, Martin Boyle, Helena Hamilton, Shiro Masuyama, Deirdre McKenna, Lisa Malone, Ryan Moffett, Brian Morrison, Leo Devlin, and Yvonne Keenan.  All of these artists have been integral to the artistic development of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Flax Art Studios, 44-46 Corporation St, Belfast BT1 3DE

Golden Thread Gallery (GTG) is a medium-scale, publicly funded gallery in Belfast. It provides a welcoming space for the public to engage with contemporary visual art, and has grown steadily since it was founded in 1998. GTG is recognised for its engagement with recent histories and re-imagined futures: the majority of its programme is engaged with offering the public a contextual experience of the visual art of our time.

GTG is a member of the Plus Tate network, a lead partner in the Draw-Down-the Walls collaboration and is accredited by Investors in People. It plays an important role in the provision of contemporary visual art in Belfast and Northern Ireland: Creating a context, challenging perceptions, promoting creativity, delivering contemporary visual art for all. The Gallery delivers its vision across a portfolio of three interconnected activities: Audience, Participation, and Support and Profiling. It is principally funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

Performance Art + Northern Ireland was devised by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes and Brian Connolly, and sets out to re-address the “underrepresented narrative” of Northern Irish performance art, in this their “initial historical survey”. The exhibition will present a series of documentary artefacts, still photography, video, film, and other archival materials, and will also host a series of performances from key artists such as MacLennan, Johnston, Connolly, and Bbeyond. The often collaborative, egalitarian, engaged, and site-specific nature of performance art in Northern Ireland will make this exhibition challenging and rewarding.

Golden Thread Gallery, 84-94 Great Patrick Street, Belfast BT1 2LU   www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk   +44(0)28 9033 0920

Thursday 10 September: Museum Visit    
Ulster Museum

Colleen Watters, Head of Learning and Partnership introduced Discover Art, the interactive art gallery at the Museum, and discussed the programmes and approaches, highlights and pitfalls that the learning team have experienced since it was opened six years ago. 

Ulster Museum is the largest museum in Northern Ireland, with around 8,000 square metres of public display space featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is located in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. Since 1998, it has formed part of the National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland, along with the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the Ulster-American Folk Park.

Ulster Museum run education and learning programmes for pre-school audiences, through to those in day care centres and residential care. Outreach projects include ‘Live and Learn’ which uses their collections and resources to develop and deliver creative programmes across Northern Ireland specifically for the over-50 age group.

The museum houses three interactive discovery centres, jam-packed with exciting things to do for families. In ‘Discover Art’ visitors are encouraged to get in touch with their artistic side, help create a giant piece of artwork or have a go at making something to take home. There are games to play and puzzles to solve whilst making discoveries about art and artists.

Ulster Museum , Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5ABT www.nmni.com +44(0)28 9044 0000

Friday 11 September: Field Trip

Delegates were invited to attend an optional trip to Derry/Londonderry to visit contemporary arts venues CCA and Void.

Sally Murphy, Head of Access and Participation and Celine Haran, Deputy Director met delegates and gave an overview of Void - its structure, exhibition programme and the importance of access and participation when truly engaging with a wider audience. Delegates were also given a short curator’s tour of the current exhibition A Many Splintered Thing.

Sara Greavu, Curator of Public Programmes (and SS13 delegate), Matt Packer, Director and Alissa Kleist, Curator of Exhibitions welcomed the group and gave a tour of Out There, Thataway, the current exhibition, and spoke about the CCA public programme, how it's curated and its relationship to the exhibition programme.

Void, now in its 11th year, has established an international reputation for its wide-ranging and challenging exhibition programme. The exhibition programme is curated by a diverse group of art practitioners and artists, whose confluence of ideas generates a unique forward-thinking programme, in partnership with established artists and galleries internationally.

Access and Participation are central to the delivery of all of Void’s activities thus encouraging a greater understanding, engagement and appreciation of contemporary art. Void produces Void Comix with the aim of increasing access for younger audiences and through the Void Engage programme actively seek to bring people into the gallery through a wide range of interactive activities such as workshops, talks, tours and seminars. Void hope that by encouraging critical appreciation of, and participation in contemporary art practice that the audience for the sector will grow in size and the importance of contemporary visual art to our daily lives will be more readily appreciated.

Void, Patrick Street, Derry, BT48 7EL www.derryvoid.com  +44(0)28 7130 8080

Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) developed out of the Context Gallery in The Playhouse, in Derry/Londonderry. Since its conception in 1992, the gallery has exhibited emerging artists from Northern Ireland alongside international peers. The gallery opened in its new space in 2012.

CCA fosters a wide range of artistic, curatorial, and critical practices through five collaborative and process-driven streams: research and production, exhibition-making, public programmes, publishing, and residencies. Its mission is to give emerging artists and new curators the best possible tools for developing internationally successful careers in contemporary art, and to offer audiences access to the most relevant and engaging art practices of our times.

Out There, Thataway is an exhibition that concerns the navigation of territories that are ‘beyond knowledge’ and the way that metaphors of geography profoundly shape our thinking and behaviour.  

Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), 10-12 Artillery Street, Derry~Londonderry, BT48 6RG www.cca-derry-londonderry.org   +44 (0)28 713 73538

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