Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson

Millennium Court Arts Centre

25 January - 24 March 2007

© Victor Sloan

Opening Night Reception: Wednesday 24 January 2007, 7.30 - 9.00pm

Artists' Talk: Thursday 15 February 2007, 7.00 - 8.00pm

Artists available for interviews

MCAC is delighted to host the exhibition and book launch of ‘Luxus: A Visual and Verbal Collaboration by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson’. It is the first exhibition in a two-part series of new work entitled ‘Interrogating Contested Spaces’ involving the collaboration of major Northern Irish visual and verbal artists. The aim is to create dialogue and inform discourse between rural and urban disputed places, between creator and participant/viewer, between the urban regenerator and the general public and finally between the visual and verbal interpretations or creations.

All of the artists’ work — through the visual and verbal interpretation of an exhibition and book — will explore these issues. They will do so through engaging memory or memories linked by history, visual landscapes in a local, national and international context, through the use of various materials and processes, with different sources of inspiration and intellectual investigation. The final product is a hard-bound book, highlighting the collaborative examination by the two artists and their processes, as well as an exhibition, a book launch and reading.

While primarily looking at Berlin, and tangentially Portadown, the first project ‘Luxus’, by Victor Sloan and Glenn Patterson, engages with the notion of The City in urban renewal. These urban spaces share notions of ‘locality’ in relation to common post-conflict spaces. Issues regarding territory and power structures pervade our psyche and the book/exhibition project aims to verbalise and visualise this change in social process and transition. Taking Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood as the background the artists examine the process of what is luxus (luxury).

For this project internationally known photographer Sloan and acclaimed Northern Irish writer Patterson were commissioned to create new images and text, which become the visual and verbal manifestations of this interrogation. The images are primarily from the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, much of which is being turned into new luxury apartments. Located in this area is a strange little bar called ‘Luxus’, an establishment that emits many sentiments but none of them reflect luxury.

In this new work, digital manipulation supersedes the physical mark making of Sloan’s earlier artworks. Instead of the intentional self-made scratches, marks and blemishes for which Sloan is so well known, these new images contain more discreet and subtle changes that would only become obvious to the a viewer who has seen the original photograph. Additionally, the images are blown up to a large scale for the exhibition, producing noise and grain on the surface. The end result lends itself to Sloan’s well-known style, but this time the marks are created digitally rather than by hand. There is an immediacy and spontaneity that capture an impression and feeling of a single moment in a certain time and place. Sloan’s approach to subject matter has not necessarily changed but the process has moved from a physical to digital landscape with work that still very much harnesses the haunted and anxious moods of the artist’s own visual landscape. Sloan has also produced a video piece that can be placed within the context of the redevelopment East Berlin and how specific urban spaces remain authentic and original (or not) with within the contemporary urban development.

For this project Patterson’s observant writing style complements the exhibition’s artwork and concept. Patterson is known for his critical analysis of social interaction within different communities and his poignant and witty commentaries. The text looks at the city of Berlin, thePrenzlauer Berg neighborhood, the Luxus bar and the people that frequent it. Like a social voyeur Patterson offers the reader an offbeat tour along a less travelled path through one of Europe’s most engaging and remarkable cities, observing the remnants of the DDR, The Second World War and the fascinating characters that exist within this ‘altered state’.

There are not many opportunities for artists to have a visual or verbal ‘white box’ in which they can create. MCAC prides itself on the ability to encourage the idea of ‘anything goes and anything is possible’ in creating artwork. This project has been made possible by the fact that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland continues to support the commissioning of new work supporting high-quality, well-known artists and writers processes in their investigation and artistic production. MCAC and the artists are indebted to their support. Additionally, the Craigavon Borough Council also supported the project through partnership funding. MCAC has long been interested in the creation of new bodies of work that engages not only with the gallery space specifically but also the notion of ‘place’ of Craigavon. This project, and the artwork created, certainly does so.

The exhibition is accompanied by an Artists’ Book entitled ‘Luxus’. It is available to the press upon request and to the public for £10.00 each.

As part of the exhibition there will be a series of auxiliary activities, which include:

  • In-reach/Outreach project: For 12-16 year olds focusing on the techniques and themes examined in the exhibition.

  • Video Editing: An opportunity to learn about this fascinating and important process. 8 February 6:30 - 8:30pm (4 weeks)

  • Image Manipulation: Using local locations you will learn the skills required to recreate unique images in the style employed by Sloan. 10 February 10:00 am -12:00pm (4 weeks)

  • Film: ‘Wings of Desire’, this German Modern Classic by renowned director Wim Wenders, follows the activities of angels living in a divided, war-scarred Berlin as they try to comfort the mortals that dwell there. (Not to be missed). Saturday 3 February 3:00pm.

The Artists:

Victor Sloan was born in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland. He lives and works in Portadown, Co. Armagh. He studied Painting at Belfast and Leeds Colleges of Art. Victor Sloan is an influential artist and educator. As one of Ireland's major visual artists, he has developed an international reputation for creating powerful images, which display his prodigious versatility and inventiveness. Sloan is known for his works commenting on various political, social and cultural aspects of Northern Ireland. As well as working with the medium of photography, he also uses video, etching and screen-printing. The Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast initiated a retrospective exhibition in 2001. In 2002 Victor Sloan was awarded an MBE. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and an academician of the Royal Ulster Academy. He has won many awards including the Academy’s Conor Prize in 1988 and the Gold Medal in 1995. Victor Sloan has exhibited widely throughout Europe, North America, South America and Asia. His work is to be found in numerous private and public collections worldwide.

Glenn Patterson was born in Belfast in 1961 and studied on the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia taught by Malcolm Bradbury. He returned to Northern Ireland in 1988 and was Writer in the Community for Lisburn and Craigavon under a scheme administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He is the author of five novels including Burning Your Own(1988), Fat Lad (1992), Black Night at Big Thunder Mountain (1995), The International (1999), and Number 5 (2003), all of which received critical acclaim and awards. His most recent novel, That Which Was (2004), is also set in Belfast and explores the interaction between memory, history and society. Glenn Patterson has been Writer in Residence at the Universities of East Anglia, Cork and Queen's University, Belfast, and was one of two writers (with poet Bernardine Evaristo) selected by the British Council and the Arts Council to attend the 'Literaturexpress Europa 2000' international literature tour.

Millennium Court Arts Centre houses two purpose built gallery spaces and has been described as one of Northern Ireland’s premiere art spaces. In addition to this, the centre includes a verbal arts room with a visual and verbal archive library, a multimedia suite equipped fully with video editing and sound recording studio. Within the complex there is also a darkroom, visual arts workshop and artist-in-residence suite, all of which combine to create a vibrant and unique environment in which to cultivate and enhance the cultural environment of the community.

Millennium Court Arts Centre
William Street, Portadown, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland Email:

Tel: 028 (ROI 048) 38394415 Fax: 028 (ROI 048) 38394483

Victor Sloan can be contacted at: