Andre Serrano Torture Void Gallery
In Belfast, GT Gallery’s ‘Video Quartet’ (2002), on loan from The Tate, was an excellent presentation of Christian Marclay’s work. The outstanding exhibition of the year in their Project Space was the John Rainey sculpture exhibition. David Hockney at the MAC was a real crowd-pleaser attracting audiences from across NI and beyond. Currently running is the MAC International exhibition showcasing work by artists from around the globe. The highlight of Belfast Exposed’s year was undoubtedly the exhibition by world-renowned photographer, Martin Parr, ‘Welcome to Belfast’, which had audiences queuing to get in on the opening night! With such high calibre exhibitions running alongside their emerging artist programme in the Futures Gallery, Belfast Exposed is always well worth a visit.
PS2 gallery’s ‘Go Girl’ feminist exhibition had the gallery bulging at the seams on the opening night and allowed this Belfast/Derry collaboration to present a unique and diverse exhibition. Kevin Killen collaborated with Sinead McKeever in QSS Gallery in a sculptural exhibition that used dramatic sculptural forms. ADF Gallery had an excellent range of exhibitions during the year, including an exhibition by the Belfast-based Japanese artist, Shiro Masuyama, entitled, ‘How disability made me an artist’.
Bbeyond performance art group presented ‘Equinox’ that grabbed international attention. Creative Exchange Artist Studios pulled out all the stops celebrating 20 years in East Belfast with a large-scale billboard public art programme, curated exhibition and visual arts symposium that explored art and regeneration.
In Derry, VOID continued to curate exhibitions of an international standard. This year’s highlights were the Art Angel supported Dinh Q. Lê exhibition, which was exceptional, but the piece de resistance was undoubtedly the Andre Serrano ‘Torture’ exhibition; a truly breath taking and thought provoking body of work. The current show in CCA Derry/Londonderry is by Miguel Martin, recipient of an Arts Council Artists Career Enhancement Scheme award in 2015 that allowed him a year to refocus his practice. The result, this exhibition, is an excellent showcase of his work.
The painting show of the year must go to Ian Cumberland whose solo exhibition was curated by Jackie Barker at Millennium Court in Portadown. The ‘What Do I Need to do to Make It OK?’ exhibition in R-Space Gallery, Lisburn, showcased excellence across a range of contemporary craft pieces. Seacourt Print Workshop hosted an stunning array of woodcut prints in an exhibition by Thai artists Teppong Hongsrimuang and Jakkee Kongkaew in their gallery space in Bangor.
Visual Artists Ireland surpassed themselves with this year’s Belfast Open Studios Programme, while PLACE broadened our viewing space with the ‘City as a Gallery’ programme.
Other exhibitions worth mentioning are the current exhibition at the University of Ulster gallery ‘Ploughing the Clouds’ by Brendan O’Neill and the survey exhibitions of work by both Susan McWilliams and David Crone in the F.E. McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge.
It would be remiss not to mention the establishment of two new visual arts gallery spaces; Goose Lane Gallery in Cathedral Quarter, which has been set up to support emerging artists and ArtisAnn on Bloomfield Avenue in East Belfast. Owned by Ann and Ken Bartley, ArtIsAnn sells works and hosts themed monthly exhibitions of work by both established and emerging artists. Both venues are a welcome addition to the visual arts scene in Northern Ireland.