News 2006

Victor Sloan’s video work Walk is shown for the duration of Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin

Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin

23 November until 2 December 2006

© Victor Sloan

The 11th Rencontre Internationales Paris/Berlin will provide 12 days of discovery and reflection this year with new cinema and contemporary art in several places, including:
- Centre George Pompidou, for a sneak preview on November 16.
- Jeu de Paume
- Cinémathèque française
- Théâtre Paris-Villette
- Cinéma l’Entrepot
- Cinéma du Monde

Several foreign cultural institutes in Paris have joined the festival this year, creating their own programs in line with the Rencontres Internationales themes and interests:
- Institut Cervantes
- Centre Culturel Suédois (Swedish Cultural Center)
- Institut Néerlandais (Dutch Institute)
- Centre Wallonie Bruxelles (Wallonia-Brussels Center)

With 150 artists and film directors from around the world, this upcoming edition of the festival offers a new and original international program, including several film premieres, carte blanche exhibitions, and multimedia concerts, as well as a screening room dedicated to viewing or re-viewing the festival’s exhibitions, of which 95% are making their world premiere.

The goals of Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin are to present art to a large public, to bring together and communicate different forms of creation, and to create exchanges among artists, directors, and main actors in the artistic and cultural spheres. Rencontres Internationales thus endeavors to contribute to an international reflection on contemporary image culture via an open and ambitious artistic program that is open to everyone.

This year’s program, particularly rich and dense, was hand-picked out of 5200 entries, as well as by invitations made to certain artists and directors. This program is the result of an unequivocal international art work search, which resulted in 250 works from France, Germany, and 70 other countries, thus bringing internationally-known artists and directors together with younger creators whose works will presented for the first time in Paris.

In addition to presenting works of art from around the world, the 11th Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin will be hosting a truly intercultural forum, where numerous artists will talk about the situation of artistic practices in their home countries, as well as discussions on the vivacity and spread of creation with major personalities in the art world, institution directors, and emerging structures.

Telephone: +33 (0)1 40 18 00 20


Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin is supported by: the Ministry of Culture and Communication, DRAC Ile-de-France, CNC - Dicréam, Conseil Régional d'Ile-de-France, the City of Paris – Art in the City – Mission cinema, Institut Cervantes, the Swedish Cultural Center, the Wallonia-Brussels Center, the Dutch Institute, Camoes Institute, the Canadian Cultural Center, the Netherlands Embassy, Pro Helvetia, Ministry of flemish communauty, Finnish Fund for Art exchange, Culture Ireland, Haut Conseil Culturel Franco-Allemand, Fondation de Coopération culturelle Franco-Allemande, OFAJ, and the European Culture Foundation.

Our partner sites: Centre Georges Pompidou, Jeu de paume, Cinémathèque française, Théâtre Paris-Villette, Cinéma l’Entrepôt, and Cinéma du Monde.


Icons of the North: Collective histories of Northern Irish Art

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co. Meath
Fri 13th October to Sat 25th November 2006

Curated by Brian McAvera

Magazine Gate, Derry, 1989
This exhibition focuses on socio–political art from the period 1969 – 1994 and supplies a survey of, and an introduction to, art produced throughout this time.

Icons of the North at the Navan Arts Centre

McAvera hypothesises that artists who produced works relating to ‘The Troubles’ during this period were largely disregarded by the establishment, and that it is only now that their value is being realised. The artists shown in the exhibition not only developed a vocabulary for ‘The Troubles’, they have continued to develop and record not just the events of Northern Ireland, but also those of a broader geographical, social and political scale. The artists featuring in this are; Marie Barrett, Tom Bevan, Graham Gingles, Gerry Gleason, Jack Packenham, Victor Sloan and Una Walker.
Presented in partnership with Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.

Solstice Arts Centre,
Railway Street, Navan,
Co. Meath, Ireland

Call (046) 909 2300
Fax (046) 909 2305


Northern Prepositions: Art of the Troubles

An Gailearaí, Falcarragh

Saturday 15th July – 31st August 2006
Tues – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat 2pm – 5pm

© Victor Sloan

This exhibition presents a selection of artworks, which reflect a specific time and a certain atmosphere in the history of Northern Ireland. Included are works by artists such as Mickey Donnelly, Rita Duffy, Jack Pakenham, Dermot Seymour, Victor Sloan, amongst others. The selected artworks in this exhibition are accessible and exemplify how the artist managed these events for themselves.
These works neither glorify, nor celebrate this era of conflict; rather theyreveal the layers of complexities, absurdities and forces at work. In coming to terms with political events within a political landscape these artists explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of cultural symbols, the experience of cultural dislocation, disenfranchisement and containment as well as the juxtaposition of horrific drama with normality.

Northern Prepositions: Art of the N.I. Troubles [Irish Translation]
Two deep-rooted and related concepts underline various art concerns during the late seventies and eighties. These are place and identity. Where we are, what we stand for, what has formed and continues to inform our sense of difference - these are the questions Northern Ireland artists asked and investigated. A new period of intensive self-interrogation had begun, together with an emergent and confident sense of location. This was facilitated and provoked, in some cases by media attention and enquiry over more than two decades, and by the perceived lack of political progress. It can be said then that the political troubles have indeed acted as a raw and hasty catalyst in the shift from a lyrical but potent pastoralism in the work of a previous generation of artists to the searching intellectual discursive art produced by this represented generation.

Dermot Seymour's lurid, ominous and displaced drumlin borderlands are myth-laden, and words are used to explore conundrums, complexities and bizarre juxtapositions. Nothing seems to be what it is. If the Ulster problem is about territory, then it is about insecurities. Seymour brands and marks his absurd menagerie of sheep, cattle and pookas so that they only stray into his pictures, just as partisans mark and territorialise the Ulster landscape. Seymour is fond of incorporating military insignia, flags and graffiti as other forms of marking and catagorising, but it is the titles of his paintings that set the riddles off. His titles arise naturally from the townland. A crossroads is not just a junction, it is where someone was shot, a patrol ambushed, a 300th anniversary celebrated each year or where traffic is monitored or surveilled. That is the nature of the land question. Seymour's townland is always on the brink.

Landscape for Micky Donnelly is a floating amorphous world in which to place various cultural symbols and emblems associated with either republicanism/nationalism or unionism. He includes emblems such as the Easter lily, James Connolly's hat, the Orangeman's obligatory bowler hat, and the orange lily. These are inflated in proportion, taken out of any real context and allowed to confront the viewer for what they are. If political troubles in Northern Ireland are about anything, they are about the persistence with the clash of identities, in which emblems are a kind of cultural score board.

The two main cities in Northern Ireland are Belfast and Derry. Unlike other Irish and British cities, they are heavily fortified. In a city like Belfast, words are painted on walls only to be dispossessed and answered on other walls, in other words. Words interrogate the wall. They insinuate themselves into the wall structure like shades. Willie Doherty, from Derry, explores the concept of the extra-mural, casting texts into states of seeing. Text is superimposed on photographs, one to subvert the other. It is another form of interrogation, but by an insider working out of and through his experience of place.

A number of Northern Ireland painters have focused on the city, encountering its social deprivation intimidation, divisions, its tensions and visual rhythms- its attraction and repulsion. In a series of social portraits during the early 70'sCatherine McWilliams focused on single, isolated female figures. The space she depicts around these forlorn figures does all the work. They are entrapped by it rather than simply being in it. They have little control or choice over their circumstances. Paintings like these are rooted in the direct experience of events and the intimate understanding of place.

In Victor Sloan's series of photoworks, based on the Orange marching season, walking becomes a corporate symbol for expression of freedom, but also the parading of an ideology. (Eventually the march leads up to a declaration, an unloading of ideology, at and in, the concept of 'the field' as an emotional ground). Sloan's technique of scraping and overpainting of photographic negatives and prints parallels the tensions inherent in the emotional apparatus of the Orange marches.

Rita Duffy's work is about Belfast. Her concerns are about segregation, siege mentality, cultural religious extremes, together with issues of gender. The forces in her composition make for circular reading, reflecting the circularity of entrenchment and tradition. The action is often played out on the street. The streets of Duffy's Belfast are not places for religious contemplation. They are perpetually in a state of arousal or group agitation. Prostitution is an activity to be found in all cities, in all times, and Duffy is interested in all roles that women have to or are forced to play. She has, as in all her work, treated them with compassion and humour.

Jack Pakenham explores themes such as manipulation, intimidation, innocence, idealism, and corruption, but especially alienation. His 'actors' all act within and from their own sense of alienation. They are never really on the same stage together, estranged as they are in their fixed soliloquies. The 'stage' itself, once a street corner or an enclosed room, develops on to a multi-faceted series of interconnecting scenarios. The ventriloquist's doll - the artist's alter ego and surrogate victim - is there always risking sentimentality and even over-exposure. He (she) is capable of only one expression, the clown's face, but is surrounded by the expressionless, lost souls of the banished. There is no escape offered nor much hope let in to these pictorial detachments.

The work of Joe McWilliams has explored, amongst other issues, the preservative powers of selective memory. To do this, he has adopted the use of the icon form to enshrine images of political leaders from both the loyalist and republican tradition, such as Edward Carson and Padraig Pearse. He presents them as multi-haloed images within one work. We see their images progressively fade and decay within the sequence, paralleling a physical aging process as they reach a more 'sanctified' state. Their power to fuel current events, however, increases as their iconic status develops. There is, too, the sense that an iconoclasm is required by way of revisionist history to exorcise their power. McWilliams cautioned against any romantic view of the past when he said:
'Political heroes of one generation are canonized by later generations and these saints and their slogans might well be as relevant to today's problems as witch craft is to modern medical practice.....Yeats's 'terrible beauty', like Emmet's speech from the dock, is stirring poetry, but they cloak violence with grace and death with glory.' (i)

Critic, Lucy Lippard astutely and yet comfortingly said:
'Beneath the diverse surfaces lies each artist's need to understand where she/he is, to come to terms with what the troubles means for everyone in Ireland no matter how tired of them everyone is. And that, after all, is what 'political art' is all about - common ground.' (ii)

Dr Liam Kelly

The essay has been extracted from Dr. Liam Kelly's book 'Thinking Long' published by Gandon in 1996.Throughout Liam Kelly's book, and as evidenced by the works exhibited in An Gaielaraí, it is clear that an imaginative inner journey has taken place to find such common ground - a thinking long.

(i) Artist's statement, Joe McWilliams - A Troubled Journey 1966-1989 (Cavehill Gallery, Belfast, 1989)

(ii) Lucy Lippard, Divisions, Crossroads, Turns of Mind: Some New Irish Art, (Ireland America Arts Exchange Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, 1985)

Contact Name: Maíre Ní Chasaide Una Campbell - Director Maureen McConnell - Assistant
Address: Falcarragh, County Donegal, Ireland
Email Address:
Phone: 00353 (0) 74 9165594
Fax: 00353 (0) 74 9165594
Website Address:


Icons of the North
Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art: Socio-Political art from 1969 – 1994
Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
31 January - 4 March 2006

Magazine Gate, Derry, silver gelatin print, toners and watercolours, 120cms x 193cms, 1989.

Icons of the North: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art: Socio-Political art from 1969 – 1994 curated by Brian McAvera. Icons of the North is the second in a series of exhibitions and publications, which will contribute to the construction of a history of Northern Irish Art from 1945 to the present.

This exhibition focuses on socio-political art from the period 1969 – 1994 and will supply a survey of, and act as an introduction to, art produced throughout this time.

McAvera hypothesises that artists who produced works relating to “the Troubles” during this period were largely disregarded by the establishment, and that it is only now that their value is being realised. The artists shown in the exhibition not only developed a vocabulary for “the Troubles”, they have continued to develop and record not just the events of Northern Ireland, but also those of a broader geographical, social and political scale.

The artists featuring in this exhibition are: Marie Barrett, Tom Bevan, Graham Gingles, Gerry Gleason, Jack Packenham, Victor Sloan and Una Walker.

A hardback, substantially illustrated catalogue (ISBN 0-9549633-3-4) accompanies the exhibition and is available priced £10, for further details and pre-ordering contact Sarah. 

Schools, colleges and community group visits to the gallery are welcomed. Please contact Lisa to arrange group tours and talks in advance, or to find out more about the gallery’s associated activities.

“Over the next couple of years Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art will be realised as a series of exhibitions and publications that, through the generosity of shared knowledge and shared experience, will form a significant historical archive of Northern Irish Art from 1945 to the present. My hope is that it will create a much-needed historical context to both engage, and help engage with, artists who are practicing today.”

Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery Director

The Golden Thread Gallery is primarily a neutral venue for the presentation and education of high quality contemporary visual art and associated activities, including exhibitions, events, projects, touring products/exhibitions, outreach activities/ workshops, located on an interface in North Belfast.

Golden Thread Gallery, Brookfield Mill, 333 Crumlin Road, Belfast. BT14 7EA