Connect to Art and change in Northern Ireland
Been thinking alot last week about the joy of seeing people work with a more traditional Art skill base. Skills that have taken a lifetime to acquire, hours of looking and making. There are a number of exhibitions on at the moment in Belfast that really ooze that ethos and are really worth visiting in order not just to view the existing exhibition but to wonder at the skill involved.Lets start with painting, Clement McAleer's current exhibition is on in the Fenderensky gallery, it's only a lifetime painting that could produce such a lightness of touch. Misty gardens,dappled light, it was a real treat to go and view the exhibition at this time of the year when all around spring is trying to come. The green's and yellows soft on the eye. Clement returned to his native NI nine years ago and does not regret one minute. Go see.
Within walking distance it's Stephen Shaw's The life and death of the Shankill, at The Red Barn Gallery. 30 years worth of paintings looking at The Shankill. Stephen's watercolours are so detailed and must take hours to produce, his early work is more detailed still. Having worked in Townsend Street for many years I was struck by the painting of house clearing when the Westlink was being built, broken down houses and the church where now it's just the church and the motorway. Talk now of the church having to close.The skill required to paint with such detail could only be honed over a lifetime. He once told me he spent a whole day painting a wall of leaves white, one by one in order to put it forward for a competition. Stephen's not know for his figurative work but his ,"Old unionist " really made me smile.
Next is James Millar, Honour, Maids and Instinct,at The Engine Room Gallery. I have come to know James as one of the longest standing members of The Belfast Print workshop, James famously went to art college for half a day. Came to etching as a way to fulfill his creative desires and has spent a lifetime developing it. To those of you who do not understand etching it requires extreme patience. You start off with a piece of flat metal and end up, sometimes with a work of art. I have watched while James has spent 6 months working on an etching plate to get the textures and tones rights. James always uses copper as his base metal which means his whites are always, whiter than white. A bit like Daz. I have always said his work is about Sex and religion, themes that repeatedly feature in his work. An East Belfast native James has been spending more time on his paintings. A different lumionious quality has appeared as a result. Well worth a visit and take your time.
But onto this week:
Wab FM is still live via stream-link on ccni.
The art gossip this week was all about the pull in funding, well after the Mac's programme was announced my Forum reaction was "will the Mac suck up all the funding" and the next think you know hay presto, funding cuts announced to all those organisations who through blood sweat and tears have developed the Catherdral quarter to what it is now. No suprise there. Artists Joanna Leech and Deidre Robb are in Australia Joanna installing an exhibition, Deidre installing one of her scuptures. Alice Burns and Julie Millar were in Berlin at an art conferance .Some Catalyst directors are in Finland with the featherlight museum, BPW are back in Victoria square later in the year, The Engine Room are taking a third space in Connswater shopping centre.Space craft are still loved up even if your not and it's great to see the vitality of the visual arts sector continue. How much of it will proceed in the next financial year and how things will progress is up to you. Anyone for classes DAS has their new schedul out BPW as well . I'm the tutor on the etching class if anyone wants to join me. Anyone from out of town the next late night art is 1st March ;-) book it in your dairy now.
Love and light and thanks for all the Birthday wishes for the site.Sam Fleming just sent me a nice note saying it's great that the dialogue is not one way, that's what the site feels like. It's good to talk, see you online.
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