Victor Sloan's works are exhibited at the London Art Fair.

The London Art Fair

13 – 17 January 2010

Band Parade, Halloween, Shopping Centre, Craigavon, silver gelatin print and toner, 26cms x 26cms, 1985 © Victor Sloan

Now entering its 22nd year, London Art Fair is the UK’s largest Modern British and contemporary art fair. Established in 1988, the Fair encompasses over one-hundred rigorously selected galleries presenting Modern British and international contemporary art.

Attracting 21,700 visitors, London Art Fair gives galleries the opportunity to renew relationships with existing clients and develop significant new contacts early in the New Year. Visitors include major collectors and representatives from public and private institutions – museums, galleries and corporate collections – together with well-informed individuals who buy regularly from the Fair.

London Art Fair offers a uniquely welcoming atmosphere for galleries and visitors to meet and do business. Strong marketing ensures a steady flow of visitors with three evening receptions
"British Collectors can see the cream of Modern British and Contemporary art on their doorstep at the London Art Fair." Meredith Etherington-Smith

Attracting visitors with a genuine passion for art, from serious collectors to those buying their first original work, London Art Fair is stylish, spectacular and uniquely welcoming.

Curated by Sarah McAvera, the Belfast-based Golden Thread Gallery presents an exhibition which attempts to investigate the relevance of "Troubles" artwork produced during, or inspired by, the 30-year period of turbulent conflict in Northern Ireland. Looking at the artwork, which often shows a world in stark contrast to today's era of peace and rebuilding, the issue of its relevancy arises. Is it detrimental to the local mentality to display and therefore continuously re-examine and discuss the "Troubles", or can it be used as a way of archiving the experience and thus moving forward? Does Troubles-inspired artwork overshadow all art produced in Northern Ireland, or does it provide a context to better understand this difficult and contentious era of contemporary history?

A questioning and scepticism of community, representation, religion and death pervade the artwork in this exhibition, which includes artwork in various media by some of Northern Ireland's leading visual artists. Victor Sloan's photography projects a tense locality where a newly constructed town, intended to be a neutral space, seethes with a precarious, sinister atmosphere. Continuing on the idea of two opposing bodies, Ian Charlesworth's work highlights the tension between the two segregated but parallel communities, by exploring the physical gesture in graffiti.

The subjective nature of representation is challenged in Graham Gingles' stencilled images of army men and crowds, which evoke a film negative and the ease in which it can be edited: made negative or positive, cropped, reduced or 'blown up'. Strategic juxtapositions of religious iconography alongside heavy artillery create a deadly association in Marie Barrett's landscapes, and religious imagery is utilised again in Gerry Gleason's paintings, which recall medieval icons while exploring lost freedoms and the weight of tradition.

Death and violence feature heavily in Troubles artwork, and Tom Bevan defies the violence with his bright, cheerfully painted wooden guns, turning these symbols of death and destruction into harmless objects of beauty. Philip Napier's sculpture of a funeral wreath commemorates the dead in a sombre gesture, while on the other hand Peter Richards's work, created post-Good Friday agreement, questions memory and memorial and brings us back to the initial question of the exhibit: what is the relevance of Troubles artwork in a stable, prosperous era?

Elizabeth Bell, writer, Chicago

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London, United Kingdom, N1 9PP

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