GTG Artists Present: Ian Cumberland


This week we’re delighted to work with artist Ian Cumberland, as he shares a new film that looks back at his 2018 exhibition at the GTG, a common fiction. (Please note: the film has sound, but no voiceover).

Ian’s work in this exhibition explored new methods of painting for him; moving towards wider, more immersive installation experiences. Detailed portraiture was staged within the space and extended with fabric, neon and video work. This ‘staging’ framed the paintings in a context that is found within the imagery of the paint itself, bringing the viewer a different perspective of looking at his work. The paintings were expanded, the landscape of each work brought out and into the gallery.


About the artist

Born in Banbridge in Co Down, Ian Cumberland studied at The University of Ulster, where he was awarded the John and Rachael Turner Award for the most outstanding student in 2006. He has established a national and international reputation for his highly realistic portraits.

Ian is perhaps best known for his hyper realistic large oil paintings, including his award winning ‘Heads’ series. The surfaces of Cumberland’s paintings record the innate detail of flesh, pattern and texture in highly detailed precision.

Solo Exhibitions

2019  ‘A Common Fiction/Once removed’, Josef Filipp Gallery, Leipzig, Germany
2018  ‘A Common Fiction’, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland
2016  ‘Once Removed’, MCAC, Portadown, Northern Ireland
2012  Albemarle Gallery, London, UK
2008 Albemarle Gallery, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019 JD Malat Gallery, London, UK
‘I’ll be your mirror’, Josef Filipp Gallery, Leipzig, Germany
Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum, Belfast, UK
‘SAGA’, Paintguide, Hong Kong
2018 ‘A Brand New Darkness’, Abridged, Galway Arts Centre, Ireland
2017 ‘Winter Open’, RUA Red, Dublin, Ireland
‘Delusional’, Jonathan Levine Projects, New Jersey, USA
Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
2016 ‘Portraits of a Nation’, Farmleigh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2015 ‘BP Portrait Award’ (Touring Exhibition), The National Portrait Gallery, London, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Ulster Museum, Belfast, UK
2014 ‘Presently’, MCAC, Portadown, Northern Ireland
‘184th Annual Exhibition’, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland


GTG Artists Present is funded by the Community Foundation NI

GTG Workshops: Salt dough modelling clay with Simon Mills


Today’s online workshop by artist and photographer Simon Mills shows you how to make your own brilliant salt dough modelling clay using basic household ingredients… And it features a very special and adorable guest artist! With a little bit of help, this is an activity for all ages to enjoy!



You can use salt dough to make ornaments, jewellery, picture-frames, the initials of your name, model cars or animals – the possibilities are endless. Once it’s baked, it can last for years if you look after it carefully.

Here’s the worksheet with instructions that you can download and print.

We’d love to see pictures of your salt dough creations! Send them to us at info@gtgallery.co.uk


GTG Workshops are funded by Community Foundation NI

GTG Artists Present: Sinéad O’Donnell


We are very excited to bring you this unique film by acclaimed performance artist Sinéad O’Donnell, in which she looks back at three iconic performance pieces from across her career, exploring themes of isolation: ‘Prerequisite‘ (1999), ‘Headspace: White Cube‘ (2014) which was first performed in Northern Ireland in the GTG in 2015, and ‘Red Clay Twins‘ (2018).



About the Artist

Sinéad O’Donnell has worked in performance, installation, site and time-based art for the past 20 years. Originally from Dublin and based in Belfast, Sinéad studied sculpture at the University of Ulster, textiles in Dublin and visual performance and time-based practices at Dartington College of Arts, graduating with distinction in 2003. Her work has been presented at Art of the Lived Experiment, Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK, Voices Travel, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2014), Asiatopia, Bangkok Arts & Cultural Centre, Thailand (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, (2013), Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland, (2012), Southbank Centre, London (2012).

Sinéad was the first performance artist to be awarded a Major Individual Artist award by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2017/18.  

Her work explores identity, borders and barriers through encounters with territory and the territorial. She sets up actions or situations that demonstrate complexities, contradictions or commonality between medium and discipline, timing and spontaneity, intuition and methodology, artist and audience. She uses photography, video, text and collage to record her performances which often reveals an ongoing interest in the co-existence of other women and systems of kinship and identity.

Sinead’s work with the GTG includes the remarkable CAUTION in 2012, the culmination of a two year project commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad to coincide with the London 2012 Paralympics; and ‘Headspace: White Cube’ performed for the first time in Northern Ireland at the GTG as part of the launch of Vanishing Futures: Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art XII.

GTG Artists Present is funded by Community Foundation NI.


GTG Workshops: Make Your Own Nightlight with Sophie Daly


In this week’s online workshop, Sophie Daly has a fantastic project for young people aged 12 and up! Sophie was inspired by the the striking neon artwork Sign*Age (2019) by artist Liliane Puthod, which is part of our current exhibition Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence.



For a subtitled version of this tutorial, watch on our GTG YouTube channel.

The Dissolving Histories exhibition has been temporarily curtailed by lockdown, but while the gallery remains closed you can view the entire exhibition here, with stunning photos by Simon Mills.

GTG Workshops are funded by the Community Foundation NI.


GTG Artists Present: On Visibility by John Rainey


Sculptor John Rainey looks back at his 2016 solo show ‘On Visibility’, with this new online presentation exploring the exhibition; a series of sculptures in porcelain, silicone and mixed media. 

On Visibility considers the persistence of images, mediated disclosure and slippages between form and formlessness in the creation of digital representation.”



About the Artist: 

John Rainey is a sculptor based in Northern Ireland, working mainly with 3D print technologies and ceramics. He completed his master’s degree at the Royal College of Art, London, in 2012. John is an associated artist of Marsden Woo Gallery, London, where his first solo exhibition was held in 2013. In the same year, he completed a four-month residency at Konstfack University for the Creative Arts as the Anglo-Swedish Society’s Visual Arts Scholar and was selected to produce a large-scale installation for “COLLECT 2013 Project Space” at the Saatchi Gallery, London. Recent exhibitions include ‘Flayground’ at the BERG Gallery, Stockholm and ‘Crowded Thresholds’ at the National Design and Craft Gallery, Kilkenny.

On Visibility is the result of Rainey’s ACES award, which he received from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2014.

GTG Artists Present is funded by the Community Foundation NI.


GTG Workshops: Stop-motion Animation with Sophie Daly


Today’s workshop is for all the budding Bigelows, Andersons, Gerwigs and Harryhausens out there! GTG’s Sophie Daly has created a wonderful video tutorial taking you step-by-step through making your own stop-motion animated movie, using a smartphone.

Sophie was inspired by Bassam Al-Sabah’s work in Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence which was our most recent exhibition.

Sophie’s top tip is “10 seconds is not much time for a movie, so keep it simple, and remember to have fun! Please submit your fabulous work to us by email so we can show it off to everyone info@gtgallery.co.uk. Enjoy!”.



GTG Online Workshops are funded by the Community Foundation NI

GTG Workshops: Pointillism with Katharine Paisley


This week we are delighted to present our second online workshop presented by our own Katharine Paisley. Today she is exploring the technique of Pointillism, made famous by artists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.

Download and print the worksheet and templates, then watch the tutorial video to learn how to make your own pointillist art!


Learn more about Pointillism

How the Pioneers of Pointillism continue to influence artists today

Paul Signac

Georges Seurat


Funded by the Community Foundation NI


GTG Artists Present: The Illusion of Purpose by Victoria J. Dean


In response to the current situation the Golden Thread Gallery is engaging with artists and audiences in a different way. Thanks to funding from the Community Foundation NI, over the next few months we’ll be inviting Northern Ireland based artists to create a new digital exhibition of some of their past work with the GTG online, on our website and social media channels.

We’re delighted that our first artist is Victoria J. Dean, a photographic artist based in Belfast. Works from her series ‘The Illusion of Purpose’ were shown in our Project Space in 2018 as part of our ‘There and not there’ exhibition, alongside works by Sharon Murphy.

For GTG Artists Present Victoria has created a new digital presentation of the works shown in the gallery, with additional works from the series and a fascinating personal reflection on the project. Watch it here, or for a subtitled version please watch on our YouTube channel.

Her photographs are notable for their lack of people, yet they are not simple landscapes or seascapes, the structures are key. It is hard to tell exactly what the structures are; indeed, some of them appear so unlikely given their locale that they appear more like an illusion than fact. Their unlikeliness presents more questions than answers. Are the structures superimposed into the photograph? What is their purpose? Where are they? Dean deliberately does not give us the answers to any of those questions. Her fascination with how humans interpret what they see, how they organise, what they build and how it all contributes to society remains unanswered.

(c) 2020 Victoria J. Dean

About the Artist

Victoria J. Dean (b. Belfast, 1980) is a photographic artist based in Northern Ireland. She has exhibited and been published internationally including in 2018: Off_festival Bratislava: ‘The Anthropocene’, Slovakia; ‘LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards’, Klompching Gallery, New York; ‘There and not there’, the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; ‘188th RHA Annual Exhibition’, Dublin; ‘137th RUA Annual Exhibition’, Ulster Museum, Belfast, and previously: ‘On the Border between Time and Loss’, Galway Arts Centre, 2016; ‘Emerging’ (Slideshow Night), Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, and ‘Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’, London, 2015; ‘Circulation(s) 2014: Festival de la Jeune Photographie Européenne’, Paris, 2014; ‘Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography’, Belfast Exposed & The MAC, Belfast, 2013, and Magenta Foundation’s ‘Flash Forward’, Boston, London and Toronto, 2013-14; and ‘PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers’, New York, 2007. Represented by the Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast), Dean featured in ‘SCOPE’ New York and ‘Elective Perspective’, Galeria Arsenał in Białystok, Poland in 2010.

Dean received the Royal Ulster Academy Award for Outstanding Students on obtaining an MFA Photography with distinction from Belfast School of Art at Ulster University, and was selected by Olivia Arthur (Magnum) and Anna Sparham (Curator, Museum of London) in Source Magazine’s ‘Graduate Photography Online 2017 Selections’. A winner in the ‘LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2017’, Dean was also a finalist in the Klompching Gallery’s ‘FRESH 2017’. ‘The Illusion of Purpose’ book was published by Another Place Press in 2018.

Dean’s work is part of the David Kronn Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, the Office of Public Works State Art Collection (Ireland), and a number of private collections in the UK and Ireland.


GTG Workshops: Matisse Video Tutorial with Katharine Paisley


This week we are delighted to present an online workshop presented by our own Katharine Paisley about one of her favourite artists, master of colour Henri Matisse.

Download and print the worksheet and templates, then watch the tutorial video to learn how to make your own colourful, bold Matisse style art!

Who was Henri Matisse?

Matisse was a French artist and one of the undisputed masters of 20th century art. Known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in art in the early part of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Although he was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art. [From henrimatisse.org]

The image above is a detail from Matisse’s The Parakeet and the Mermaid (1952). Photograph: © Stedelijk /© Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2014

New! More free GTG art activity sheets to download


Here are some more art activity sheets from our exhibitions for you to print off and colour in!

First up, some mixed-up bodies to imagine and draw, based on the ‘Exquisite Corpse‘ idea used by Surrealist artists like Frida Kahlo, Yves Tanguy and Marcel Duchamp, and more recently by Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Next, an activity sheet based on our exhibition ‘The Telepaths’ from last year, by renowned Northern Irish artist Susan MacWilliam. In the exhibition Susan used archive photographs of women in the early part of the 20th Century as part of her exploration of ideas and imagery related to historical investigations of telepathy and extra-sensory perception.

Finally an art activity that you need to do to music! Cheesy, cheerful pop is our favourite! This activity sheet was created for Oona Doherty‘s solo exhibition, ‘Death of a Hunter‘, which was the first exhibition to combine dance and narrative story-telling into a visual arts exhibition which blurred the distinctions between art forms.

Don’t forget to send us a photo of your finished activity sheet so we can add it to the online GTG Junior Gallery!