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.


Black History Month – Celebrating Black Voices

GTG New Needs Intern Esther Andare writes to mark Black History Month in the UK.

Entering the later part of 2020, we are left to adapt our lives to the ‘new normal’ due to the pandemic, but also to deal and process with the aftermaths of the Black Lives Matter protests. These worldwide protests that are still ongoing in some states in America stemmed from the unjust killings of black people, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers.


Mural in honour of George Floyd in West Belfast, 2020

Growing up in England, Black History Month was never something that was overtly highlighted or celebrated.  To put it simply, there is a significant lack of representation within the educational system; Black British history is never taught and often substituted for a single lesson on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. Not that these revolutionary historical figures should not be taught; however, they are not the be-all and end-all of black history. So, it is evident by the increased awareness of Black History Month this year, that things are changing, with major organisations such as Sainsbury’s and the Royal Mail partaking in spreading awareness. This leaves me with a glimmer of hope that momentum from all the protests over summer in terms of racial inequality has not been lost. However, more is needed than just symbolic gestures and acknowledgement of the month. There needs to be racial equality in all aspects of society and culture; more uncomfortable conversations had about the realities of being Black.

The commemoration of Black History Month in the U.K. began in 1987 by a Ghanaian analyst, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. His original goal was to use the month to create a cultural space in the U.K. Addai-Sebo whilst working at the Greater London Council, hosted Dr Maulana Karenga to talk about the contribution of black people throughout history month was first celebrated in London. Eventually, Black History Month was celebrated and recognised by local authorities and voluntary groups around the U.K.

Last week whilst going through the gallery archive, I came across the 2012 Main Space exhibition, Loss. The exhibition was curated with the collaboration of the Imperial War Museum and featured Jananne Al-Ani, Annabel Dover, Rozanne Hawksley and Steve McQueen. To commemorate Black History Month, I will discuss Steve McQueen and his work Queen and Country, which was shown with Loss.



Before going through the archives, I was only really aware of Sir Steve McQueen as the Director of the Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave and upcoming T.V. miniseries Small Axe.  McQueen is also equally as talented an accomplished artist, he was the recipient of the Turner Prize in 1999 and currently has an exhibition at the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern. McQueen is very vocal about racism within the arts and pushes for diversity amongst the art, particularly in the film industry. In a recent interview with Esquire where McQueen reflected on the killing of George Floyd, he also noted the conscious efforts that he went to put a person of a minority in every single department whilst filming Small Axe. Mainly because McQueen believed that ‘what’s behind the camera [diversity] should be reflected in front of the camera.’


Image courtesy Imperial War Museum (c) Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Queen and Country was made to both commemorate and remember the individuals that fought and died in the Iraq War.  In 2006 McQueen travelled to Basra in Iraq, spending six days embedded with British troops. The work was initially meant to be a film about the soldiers he spent time with; however, due to restrictions, McQueen found other ways to convey the Iraq conflict. McQueen created an oak cabinet that was mounted with double-sided panels. The panels displayed 168 stamps showing the soldiers on the sheets along with their names, regiments, dates of death. McQueen used stamps because of their beautiful scale, allowing the photo to be recognisable and stamps could go around the world. The poignant work looks into the loss of lives and how that translated into a national loss, and in the same breath, Queen and Country explores the idea of remembrance.


Queen & Country at the GTG in 2012

I find McQueen’s tribute to the dead soldiers to be incredibly poignant, due to the numbness that people feel about war and the deaths that are entrenched in war as stamps are such a public affair and would be seen by many people, forcing the viewers to confront the effect of war and remember the loss that comes with the conflict.

‘Conflict and loss are so intrinsically linked that the problem of how to remember, how to memorialise, is ever-present.” – Sir Steve McQueen


Watch Steve McQueen’s Mangrove on BBC iPlayer from the 15th November and Amazon Prime on the 20th of November. Mangrove is a part of a 5-episode miniseries anthology, Small Axe, depicting the lives of Black British people during the 1960s and 1980s.

Other Black History Month events in Northern Ireland:

ACSONI (African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland) Black History Month talk series starting on the 27th of October with Esther Stanford Xosei

U.K. Pivot’s BHM Poetry and Dialogue event on the 24th of October

Also, because Black Lives Matter everywhere around the world, follow the various hashtags and support the movements:

Nigeria #EndSARS – A movement is fighting against police brutality. As a result of the protest, the Nigerian government shot at unarmed civilians.

The Democratic Republic of Congo #Congoisbleeding – Due to armed groups fighting, there are thousands of Congolese people being murdered and displaced.

Zimbabwe #Zimbabweanlivesmatter – The government has turned into an Army state, attacking innocent citizens.

Namibia #ShutItAllDown #ShutItAllDownNamibia – Young people in Namibia have been protesting about ongoing gender-based violence. The protesters are demanding that the government take action to fix the problem.

GTG marks World Autism Week with a new Social Story for visitors


This week is World Autism Awareness Week 2020 and to mark this important event the Golden Thread Gallery is launching our new Social Storyon our website. We’ve designed it to help make visiting the gallery, and engaging with visual art, easier and more enjoyable for young visitors on the autism spectrum.

Thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, we’ve been able to develop and create this new step-by-step guide to exactly what visitors can expect when they come to the Golden Thread. It’s available to view and download free of charge on our website here and at the bottom of this page too.

Once the current public health situation has improved, and we’re advised that it’s safe to re-open the gallery, we will also be making free printed copies of the guide available, both in the gallery and to organisations who work with and support young people on the autism spectrum in Northern Ireland.

Our unique Social Story™, ‘My Visit to the Golden Thread Gallery’, was developed using the pioneering model first created by Carol Gray in the 1990s, alongside research into current best practice in the international arts and cultural sector.

Creating the guide has helped the GTG team to take a fresh look at the gallery ourselves, and to consider accessibility from a new perspective.

We are always working to make the gallery as welcoming as possible to all visitors. We hope that we will welcome many new visitors and their families once we are open again!

Welcoming the newest member of the GTG team!

Welcome Chiara!

We’re very happy too introduce the newest member of the GTG team, Chiara Matteucci! Joining us for three months on the excellent Erasmus scheme for third-level students, Chiara has been in Belfast for a few weeks now, getting to know the city. She is a graduate of DAMS (the famous degree course founded by Umberto Eco) and holds a Master’s in Contemporary Art from the University of Bologna. On her first visit to us here in the GTG, she attended the launch of the Dissolving Histories exhibition, and has written this wonderful review of the show:

Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence is the new exhibition of the Golden Thread Gallery which opened on Saturday 15th February. It was my third day in Belfast when I came to the opening and, believe or not, it was raining! I’d never seen the gallery before that day and my first impression was that the place was warm (probably because I was still wet from the rain), friendly and huge. The two wide corridors with soft lights and the way the artworks have been displayed created a suggestive atmosphere that capture the attention and immerse the spectator in undefined time/space.

The aim of the exhibition is to reflect about the notion of History itself, and the final result is a cohesive space within which different realities and thoughts take place. The four artists involved investigate the concept of History with different media, trying to give their own definition of the notion, inevitably related to their specific backgrounds.

Greeting you at the entrance of the exhibition is the video Dissolving beyond the worm moon by Bassam Al Sabah. The war that has afflicted all the ages is shown through a juvenile eye, like a Japanese Anime series, broadcast in Arab world since the 80s. This surreal work, constantly playing between reality and fantasy, naturally coexists with the ancestral sculpture made by Stuart Calvin, which reflects on the contrary on the eternal necessity of the human being to believe in something transcendent, capable of resolving problems above human’s powers. The way to invoke this unreliable presence is the upside-down sculpture Calvin created that seems, by the way, an archaeological find.

Even the artworks of Liliane Puthod look like some archaeological elements but from a different era: all of them allude to another presence of our contemporary society, capitalism. In her works the notion of History becomes real, tangible and near our age. These artworks indeed reflect society itself in a conceptual way: using industrial materials (e.g. Cool Death) and thinking about the act of consumption of products in our everyday lives.

The desire of collecting goods (in this case memories) is present also in Michael Hanna’s video, which at a first sight could be described as an obsessive and quite random collection of frame videos. Actually, this work reflects about History throughout; a focus on the concept of Utopia suggested moreover by the title chosen: Indoor sunlight.

This rain of images (the reference to Italo Calvino is a must!) is the last artwork of Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence at the Golden Thread Gallery until the 25th of April.”