Exploring the GTG Gallery Archive: Juno Calypso


Continuing our re-cataloguing of GTG Exhibition Archive material, Gallery Assistant and artist Katharine Paisley writes about one of her favourite (re)discoveries so far!

Recently, we’ve been sorting through old archive material – as a new(ish) member of the GTG team, I’ve found this a great way to get to know the Gallery’s past and the journey it’s been on to get to where we are now.

Something that stood out for me in the archive was an old show programme for Juno Calypso’s ‘The Honeymoon Suite’. I don’t want to disappoint Calypso by falling into the gender stereotype but the beautiful pink imagery pulled me in!

On the programme’s front cover Juno Calypso’s character ‘Joyce’ stands in a blush pink room, surrounded by pink furniture and ornate pink curtains, this contrasts against her costume of a wig, a white beaded wedding dress and a pink electronic beauty mask. The only other objects in the shot include a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Oil and a plate.

Described as a ‘photographic mission’ ‘The Honeymoon Suite’ captures Calypso’s week spent posing as a travel writer at a couples-only honeymoon resort in Pennsylvania, while in character as her alter ego Joyce. London born photographer Calypso has been using this alter ego since 2011 to ‘re-enact the private underlife of a woman consumed by the laboured construct of femininity’.

All of my work essentially boils down to two things: desire and disappointment […] The honeymoon hotel is a space charged with anticipation, and desire. I like to put my character through the rituals that would otherwise play out in these spaces with two people – the preparation, and then watch as disappointment unfolds. Solitude and loneliness are big themes. I’ll only ever appear alone.” Juno Calypso.

The photographic work has a really beautiful almost ethereal feel to it. I would have assumed these places were sets if not told otherwise. Calypso described the resort as clearly being dreamt up in the head of a man; solely designed ‘for looking at your lover, or at yourself’. Apparently, Juno saw pictures of the Hotel in Pennsylvania, decided instantly she needed to go there to make work and was on location with her costumes and camera a week later.

The pastel shades and lighting are delicate and pretty, which contrasts against the sexuality Joyce is exploring and the assortment of anti-aging products she is desperately experimenting with.

The juxtaposition Calypso’s single, lonely ‘Joyce’ brings to these honeymoon suites almost creates a humorous tragedy. Joyce is acting out all these rituals that would normally take place between two people, but alone in one the most aesthetically romantic places you could imagine, it’s almost as if she’s in on the joke.

Alongside the exhibition programme was a zine titled ‘FEMALE GAZE’, which was created in collaboration with Go Girl, Golden Thread Gallery and Juno Calypso. The zine was a product of a workshop titled ‘Zining the Female Gaze’, each page was designed by a participant of the workshop. The work created aimed to visually combat the male gaze; edgy, feminist, collage is how I’d describe the resulting zine.

The Honeymoon Suite exhibition was produced in partnership with Belfast Photo Festival.



About Juno Calypso

Juno Calypso was born in London in 1989, and is a London based artist working with photography, film and installation. She developed ‘Joyce’ in 2012, channelling suburban isolation by placing her in garish sets furnished with pastel curtains and plastic food. Her degree show was awarded both the Hotshoe Portfolio Award and the Michael Wilson Photography Prize.  In 2013 The Catlin Art Guide featured Calypso as one of 40 of the most promising new artists in the UK, subsequently shortlisting her for the 2013 Catlin Art Prize. She was British Journal of Photography, IPA Series prize winner in 2016 and her work has been featured in The Guardian, Dazed & Confused and in the projects section of the British Journal of Photography. For her latest project, What to do With A Million Years, Juno staged photographs in a mansion built underneath Las Vegas in the 70s as a shelter from nuclear terror, and currently owned by a mystery group attempting to achieve immortality. 

Image Credit:
Juno Calypso, 12 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time, 2013, Photographic C-Type print, 101.6 x 152.4 cm / 40 x 60 in.


Celebrating IWD at the GTG

Happy International Women’s Day! We are celebrating by looking back at some of the exceptional women artists who have exhibited at Golden Thread Gallery in the past. We’re proud to have ensured that 50% of our exhibitions over our history have been by women, and glad to play our part in the improving representation of female artists.

Our brilliant volunteers have written about a few selected women whose exhibitions here in Belfast at the GTG directly challenged sexism and patriarchal values. Starting with the extraordinary Barbara Hammer, as chosen by Katharine Paisley.

“Hammer is considered the foremost pioneer of queer feminist cinema. For over 40 years her work has been challenging the straight, male-dominated iconography of the female body and sexuality. Through her films, performances, photography and installations Hammer rejects the male definitions and representations of women in film and photography. She negates the male gaze and celebrates lesbian desire through the active participation of women, countering the passive roles afforded to them in traditional cinema. Other past works have explored queer histories, such as the biographies of the artists Hannah Hoch and Claude Cahun.

Barbara Hammer exhibited 3 film works in the Golden Thread in November 2018 as part of Outburst Queer Arts Festival, Dyketactics! (1974), No No Nooky TV (1987) and Bedtime Stories I, II, III (1988).”

The newest member of the GTG team, Chiara Matteuci, has written about two radical women we were thrilled to welcome to the GTG: Sarah Maple and Margaret Harrison.

“Margaret Harrison is an engaged artist, always in the forefront of addressing social concerns and political controversy. She’s one of the founders of the London Women’s Liberation Art Group and she’s probably best known for the closing of her exhibition in 1971 by the police due to her sexually charged works.

In 2015 the Golden Thread Gallery hosted Harrison’s first solo exhibition on the island of Ireland. We are them, they are us included several seminal works, created at various stages of her career, alongside a number of more recent pieces. This exhibition explored many of the themes common in Harrison’s work, like her concern with the property rights and land ownership, and the issues of gender inequality and the objectification of women in popular culture.

Harrison has always explored the transformations of our age, from the women’s labour within the installation Greenham Common (1989), where she recreates a portion of the perimeter fence from Greenham Common military base, to the consideration of female gender in the contemporary society. In Scents of Identity (1993) young, often ethic minority, cosmetics salesgirls are depicted in polished, glossy department store surroundings.

Meanwhile, in He’s Only a Bunny Boy (1971), she draws Hugh Hefner posing proactively in a corset, stockings and bunny ears.

This hilarious artwork was part of her first solo exhibition, the one which the police closed after only one day. Things have changed since then, but not the way Harrison question the world, always with humour and a rebel gaze. 

And speaking of rebels… Sarah Maple is a visual artist based in the UK. Her mixed identity (half Britannic and half Islamic) is one of the major themes investigated by the artist, always with a wonderful (for someone outrageous) spontaneity. She’s currently taking part at the exhibition “Don’t ask me where I’m from” at Aga Khan Toronto dedicated to migration.

Your Body (2007)

In 2014 her artworks were exhibited at the Golden Thread Gallery. God is a Feminist was a journey through Maple’s diverse, engaging, challenging and sometimes controversial practice.

Her artworks are very current and avant garde, especially those related to the subject of feminism: just have a look at the painting “Menstruate with pride” from 2010-11, and think about the current issue of the tampon tax! “

Menstruate With Pride (2010-11)

We’re looking forward to presenting our audiences with more outstanding exhibitions by women artists in 2020/21, including Joy Gerrard‘s first major solo exhibition in Belfast, ‘A Crowd Exists’, coming up in May.