News 1994

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Cease-fire: Reflections of Conflict,

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

12 November - 31 December 1994

Waving Flags, Tandragee, silver gelatin print, toner and gouache, 58cms x 58cms, 1986 ©Victor Sloan

This exhibition has been organized as an urgent response to recent events in Northern Ireland. Following the IRA cease-fire on September 1st 1994 and the subsequent cease-fire declaration by Loyalist paramilitary groups the future of the Province now hangs in the balance as the politicians edge cautiously towards a negotiated settlement. It has given an opportunity to reflect upon the historical causes and the attitudes which have sustained 25 years of bloodletting and 300 years of bitterness and mistrust. When we think of the Troubles in Ulster it tends to be in the familiar language of the TV news broadcast or newspaper photograph.

This exhibition reveals a different type of commentary, based on different processes and intentions from those of the mass media. It explores some of the ways in which the conflict has been addressed in the visual arts through the work of 16 artists from the UK and Northern Ireland. Most of them have experienced the civil strife from afar but for those brought up in Ulster it has been part of the fabric of their daily lives.

Assembled in haste, the show does not pretend to be a representative survey but it does present a variety of approaches from artists working in a broad range of media; in painting, printmaking, sculpture, video and the photographic image. Some tackle the subject head on, as seen in the angry and expressive works of Anthony Davis and John Keane. Jock McFadyen even manages to introduce a note of sardonic humour.

Others take a more oblique approach looking for the historical and psychological tap roots of conflict. Anne Tallentire and Christine O’Leary, explore definitions of national or cultural identity, of Britishness or Irishness, and the experience of exile. In the works of Rita Donagh, Richard Hamilton and Sandra Johnston the images of the mass media themselves are analysed, manipulated and reprocessed in an attempt to get at some elusive truths about the nature of violence.

For Victor Sloan and Paul Seawright the format of the documentary photograph becomes a starting point for works which pry beneath the surface of the ubiquitous Orange parades. All the artists in this show have addressed the issues in different ways, demonstrating a number of critical and creative approaches to a theme of overwhelming complexity.

The visual arts in Britain have had relatively little to say in comparison with the masses of documentary and media coverage. The processes and the ways in which ideas are gestated and resolved are entirely different, but those artists who have been moved to deal with the realities of conflict can sometimes offer deeper, or at least alternative insights.

Participing artists: Terry Atkinson, Anthony Davis, Willie Doherty, Rita Donagh, Rita Duffy, Paul Graham, Richard Hamilton, Sandra Johnston, John Keane, Jock McFadyen, Colin McGookin, Jim McKevitt, Christine O’Leary, Paul Seawright, Victor Sloan and Anne Tallentire.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Lichfield Street

Tel: 01902 552055


FREE entry
Opening Times
The Gallery is open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm

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