Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has announced a major art exhibition to showcase Northern Ireland’s creative talent as part of the Northern Ireland Office’s Centenary programme.

The Portrait of Northern Ireland: Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto exhibition, which will be staged in Belfast from 9 October – 3 November, will feature over 100 artists who have explored perspectives of Northern Ireland’s people and landscapes from the 1920s until the present day.

In addition to established artists such as Paul Henry, William Scott and Turner Prize nominees, the exhibition will shine a light on the work of up-and-coming artists who have recently graduated from Belfast School of Art. As well as nurturing young talent and enhancing local artists’ profiles, it is hoped that the exhibition will provide a boost to the local arts sector as it deals with the impact of Covid 19.

Curated by Shan McAnena, the exhibition is a collaboration between the Northern Ireland Office, the Government Art Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast School of Art as part of the wider cultural programme of the Northern Ireland Centenary. An expert panel of representatives from these organisations and many of the leading Northern Ireland galleries, has ensured that the exhibition features an inclusive and varied range of artwork and exhibits.

Making the announcement, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis MP said:

“The Portrait of Northern Ireland art exhibition is a superb cultural initiative which will shine a spotlight on the creativity of Northern Ireland’s artists.

“I’m particularly pleased that we have such a range of emerging and established talent and a variety of artistic mediums which really highlight what local Northern Ireland talent can achieve.

“I would encourage everyone from right across Northern Ireland to take advantage of this important collection of art work and exhibits from highly acclaimed local artists.”

Curator Shan McAnena said: “It is a privilege to be able to bring together these beautiful and profound works and acknowledge the contribution of many of the key artists who have emerged from this part of the world over the past 100 years.

“This survey aims to capture artists’ responses to the landscape and experience, both particular and universal, of the people who have lived here and continue to make Northern Ireland their home.”

Head of Belfast School of Art Louise O’Boyle said: “The inclusion of a selection of our current students and recent graduates in this exhibition is both welcomed and so important.

“It recognises their voices as an integral part of this collective portrait of art in Northern Ireland.

“Their work highlights some of the evolving themes and diverse practices that are emerging, at this moment, from Belfast School of Art.

“Practices that also contribute to wider national and global dialogues regarding art, culture, creativity and their role within society.”

The exhibition will open at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast from 9 October to 3 November.

Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.


Notes to editors

For press queries, contact communications@nio.gov.uk

For information on the NIO’s Centenary programme, visit www.ourstoryinthemaking.com


Image (c) Sarah Cathers


Golden Thread Gallery is supported by: