Symbolism: the art of propaganda…

Edward Colston, Slave trader, Tory member of Parliament and…philanthropist. As a liberal who believes that society, the law and democracy should serve only to liberate I abhor slavery and its nefarious influence which still skews our global economy to this very day. The city of Bristol, like so many other western European port towns, lives with the historical scar of Colston’s ill-gotten wealth. There is a hall, tower, schools and streets named after this man throughout the city. In many …

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Can art therapy be a form of visual protest?

The body social is a term that relates to society and the impact of social content upon identity. Art therapy has a role to play in understanding how subjectivity and society are related. Everybody has the potential to live out of bounds, and is entitled to expression on their own terms. A feminist agenda for art therapy not only highlights the significance of “the personal is political”, but also activates public declarations of agency that declare the importance of “the …

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Hear My Voice – a cinematic companion piece to Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony

Hear My Voice is a cinematic companion piece to Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony, a 2015 exhibition of 18 portraits of people who suffered loss during the local conflict, developed in conjunction with the WAVE Trauma Centre. The paintings are back in the Ulster Museum until Sunday 22 April and the exhibition is well worth a visit.

The Agreement. Ten Frames. Twenty Years.

There’s going to be a lot of familiar and famous talking heads, looking back pensively, giving the ‘I was there’ definitive version of ‘what really happened’ at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago. We will note the wrinkles and the grey hair and we will see how they have changed, if only in their appearance. The usual role-call will be called. But what about artistic responses? What might an artist create that could ever contain the …

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“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS

“Art can tread where words and politics often can’t”: The Art of Conflict Transformation @The_JHS
by Allan LEONARD @SharedFuture
25 July 2017

As part of the 30th anniversary of the John Hewitt Society international summer school, the Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) sponsored a panel discussion, “The Art of Conflict Transformation”, which explored how visual and performance art have contributed to our evolving conversation of our troubled past, with hope for dealing with legacy as well as prospects for reconciliation.

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A city in colour: behind the scenes with a street art veteran

You don’t have to think (as I do) that Belfast’s street art puts a priceless, living vein through the heart of our city to be fascinated by how those ‘walls’ happened and where the local scene behind them is going next. Taking Dermot McConaghy as a great example, the established street artist explained how the scene has grown and where we might see the art appearing next. He also talked through the personal journey which brought much-loved pieces like Long …

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Perhaps we should back off from legislating on what others can and cannot say?

This one has been bubbling under for the last 24 hours. It’s to do with late Joe McWilliams and the one painting he offered the Royal Ulster Academy: The RUA said McWilliams was a former president between 2000 and 2004 and as a senior academician with the organisation, was entitled to submit work “without selection” meaning he was responsible for deciding the piece, its subject matter and treatment, for the exhibition. RUA president Dr Denise Ferran said: “This year, due …

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Is Turandot the most controversial artistic production ever staged in Northern Ireland?

Following their successful production of Salome back in February, NI Opera’s Steven Hadley introduces the company’s next show Turandot [Ed – everyone can hum along with Nessun Dorma!] which he promises will challenge audience views on wealth, consumerism and the power of art to shock, educate and entertain. Is Northern Ireland ready? Northern Ireland Opera are closing this autumn’s Belfast International Arts Festival with three performances of the lavish Turandot by Giacomo Puccini at the Grand Opera House. It’s a …

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“Today, I hold fast to all tenets of mistrust…”

The novelist Howard Jacobson on the virtues of art and literature over politics and politicians… It doesn’t follow from what I say that we should hand over the reins of political power to artists. They wouldn’t make a better job of it. But we would all make a better job of thinking about politics – indeed of thinking about anything – if we refused that daisy-chain of affiliation which the ideological hang around our necks, with the promise that we’ll …

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Art of the Troubles at the Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum’s Art of the Troubles exhibition is now open and runs through the summer until 7 September. A variety of styles, “sides” and periods exhibited: sixty works from fifty artists. Reactions to atrocities, depictions of politics (a particularly grim triptych by Joseph McWilliams of Sammy Wilson, Ian Paisley Snr and Peter Robinson) and peace talks, as well as reflections on how society dealt with conflict. The no photography rule was being strictly imposed in the gallery this afternoon, …

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Tenx9-A true story of Belfast

Over the past two years I have constantly heard yarns from all and sundry about the importance of culture. Who belongs to this tradition and what emblems we should back over the other? So, I went along to the most recent Tenx9 event in the Black Box on Wednesday evening to see a cultural event in action. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with tenx9-its basic premise is that 9 people have up to 10 minutes each to tell …

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Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography. Discuss.

20130517 Belfast Exposed

To mark its 30th anniversary, Belfast Exposed has organised an extensive exhibition of photographic work, displayed both at its premises on Donegall Street as well as at The MAC. The exhibition — Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography — “focuses on the growth of new, fine art documentary practices, more often produced for the gallery space and the photo book rather than for a press or media context”. There is also a large publication of the same title, written by …

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Lost and Found: In Search of Owen Roe O’Neill

Maybe you can help me with a little piece of research? Recently an authentic image of Hugh O’Neill, the great earl of Tyrone, was discovered in a fresco in the Vatican but one of his nephew Owen Roe remains elusive. His story, dying in Castle Oughter County Cavan in command of an intact Ulster army as Cromwell advanced across Ireland, is full of fanciful potential. As a successful commander in the Spanish army, Don Eugenio, as he was known, would …

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Tears in the Rain comes to Golden Thread Gallery

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting a new exhibition at Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery called “Tears in the Rain” curated by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. This exhibition “concentrates on the role art plays in keeping hope alive through the darkest of times and conveying a sense of a shared humanity” The exhibition at the Arts Council and Belfast City Council funded gallery will include the painting “Silver Liberties” by conceptualist artist Conrad Atkinson which was banned from the Ulster Museum in 1978, …

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Celtic myths and legends … will there (shortly) be dragons in Belfast City Hall?

celtic dragon suncatcher by grassymtarts on Etsy

As part of the ongoing work to rebalance the sense of shared space and history at Belfast City Hall, a Celtic-themed stained glass window is being commissioned to “reflect Celtic myths and legends”. The window will be located close to the main reception, and is intended to represent cultural perspectives and promote a “City Hall for all”. Any budding artists and/or stained glass glaziers might want to check out the tender document. Deadline for submissions is noon on Friday 16 …

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Oxford academic decries loss of terrorist murals

There have over the last number of years been serious attempts as part of the Re-Imaging Communities Project to remove the sectarian murals in Belfast and replace them with more positive images highlighting the areas’ cultural and history. The Titanic murals also on the Lower Newtownards Road would be an example: unfortunately since the assembly election two new murals depicting loyalist terrorists have been created. Overall, however, according to the Belfast Telegraph there are fewer sectarian murals now than there …

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Some of our artwork is missing…

The BBC reports that fourteen paintings, worth an estimated £20,000, have gone missing from the publicly-owned Northern Ireland Executive’s collection since 1998.  According to a Department of Finance and Personnel spokesman there are more than 1,400 artworks in the collection – which are “on show within government buildings”.  From the BBC report The fourteen paintings worth a total of £20,000 had been under the control of the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Civil Service. Among the missing artworks is a 1970 oil painting, ‘Tullymore’ …

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Photograph of the Day – Zadoc Nava

The exhibition comprises photographs from a number of visits to Iran, in particular the capital Tehran and offers an insight into life in Iran. It’s an interesting exhibition and highlights tensions between the old and the new. Speaking with Zadoc he told me that whilst there was no real problem taking photographs(as ever common sense needs to be applied when shooting on the street) he did get arrested once. I think there is a resonance between the political and religious …

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Photograph of the Day – Base artists mosaic

Moochin PhotomanPhotographer and visual artist based in Belfast. I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast. My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the …

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Photograph of the day – Base at St Annes Square

As part of the Trans festival 25+ artists from around the world are creating large scale paintings in St Annes square. The standard and quality of the work is very very high and i’d recommend a trip down to see the work being created. It’s on between 2pm and 6pm in St Annes square behind the cathedral and there will be live bands and dj’s, there’s also a nearby bar.  You can also see the Half Naked Chef at Cotton …

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