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.


GTG Gallery Talks: Joy Gerrard


Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions the wonderful exhibition ‘Put It To The People‘ by Joy Gerrard is currently closed to the public. In lieu of being able to see the artworks in real life, we are delighted to bring you this unique and in-depth interview with the artist. Exhibitions Officer Mary Stevens speaks to Joy about the exhibition, her art practice, and plans for the future in a fascinating conversation which provides unique insight into this exceptional artist’s work.



Filmed and edited by Simon Mills. With thanks to Joy Gerrard, Arts Council NI and Belfast City Council.

The run of ‘Put It To The People’ is extended to 18th December, so book your visit now from our reopening on 14th Novembre!


GTG Online Forum Series: Improving Diversity in the Arts


Golden Thread Gallery is launching a series of events that will encompass webinars, talks and workshops, all focussed on widening participation within the arts sector and supported by the Community Foundation NI New Needs fund. Our first events are a series of three online discussion sessions. hosted by our New Needs intern Esther Andare.

The discussions will explore what improvements are needed in striving for more inclusivity and engagement for people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background in the Arts – from visual art to dance, theatre, music, performance, photography, literature and beyond.

Our first discussion on 14th November is aimed at individuals of colour or who identify as part of a minority ethnic community, to discuss their personal experiences as audience members. It aims to create a space for a candid conversation to cover topics including:

  • The current state of diversity within the arts and Esther’s personal experiences
  • A discussion about possible strategies and best practices to increase inclusivity and community engagement
  • The term ‘BAME’ itself, and how it is used to group minorities

We will ask: ‘What should art galleries and organisations do and have in place to make you (Black, Asian and minority ethnic people) feel welcomed and encouraged to visit galleries?’

Future Sessions

Session 2 is aimed at Arts Organisations and will take place on Tuesday 24th November at 2pm. Seema Manchanda will lead the discussion of how organisations are currently addressing diversity. 

Session 3 is aimed at both Arts Organisations and Individuals, to combine the learning from the previous sessions and explore new tactics to increase diversity in the arts. It will take place on Thursday 10th December at 2pm. 

The gallery is keen on having these discussions openly to encourage different voices and perspectives to be heard.

The sessions will all take place via Zoom, and last approx an hour. Please email info@gtgallery.co.uk to book your place to join the discussions, or for any queries.

Supported by the Community Foundation NI New Needs Fund.

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.

‘Not Alone’ continues its journey in Italy


Our exhibition in a bottle is in Rome, installed by curator Manuela Pacella in her home. Manuela has a deep interest in the the history and art of Northern Ireland, since curating the Patria Interiore / Inner Homeland exhibition here at the GTG in 2012, and then being selected in 2013 for the ICI’s Curatorial Intensive at the CCA in Derry and for the International Residency at Flax Art Studios in Belfast.

Manuela documented her version of ‘Not Alone’ on Instagram, and shared her thoughts on having pieces of Belfast with her again. This is her essay about Sharon Kelly‘s ‘Sutured‘ 2020 piece.


“Among the last activities carried out before the lockdown was a studio visit to the British School at Rome at the newly arrived Sharon Kelly, from Belfast, whose light but rather tough sculpture in scrim and red thread I just set up. The anatomical parts remind me of the ones she was drawing at the studio in Rome. […] she spoke of portions of gestures of caring, of caring for each other and I saw so much disease. ‘Sutured’ is now on a small passing way of my house; portions of fabric are connected to each other to form parts of a body through a fiery red thread, at times the same features of arteries; I still see, in that red thread that joins a real suture, a desire to put back together the shards of a vase broken too many years ago. […] My home is now your home. But my home has become sacred since I missed it more than human contact, since I risked seeing it either a few hundred meters away from me, since I know my parents will never see it again, since I decided to take care of it as if it were full of sutures still red, like those of Sharon’s thread, my first artist met after months of forced separation from my previous life and last contact that preceded a global isolation.”

At the end of this week, Manuela will pack the exhibition up and send it on to the next curator – but it’s not going so far this time, just across the city to curator Micol di Veroli!

Follow Not Alone’s journey on our Instagram.

‘Not Alone’ departs for Rome!


Our touring exhibition ‘Not Alone’ has left Bologna, and is on its way to Rome!

Carefully packed up by our first curator Chiara Matteucci, the artworks will now travel 400km across Italy to the home of Manuela Pacella in Rome. Manuela is an independent curator and writer, and she has visited and worked in Northern Ireland many times in the last decade, including guest curating exhibitions in the Golden Thread and at the MAC, Belfast.

We can’t wait to see her interpretation of the exhibition! (And fingers crossed everything arrives in one piece!).

Make sure to follow us on Instagram to see the arrival, unpacking and installation of ‘Not Alone’ in its second show in Italy.


GTG Workshop: Create a sun collage with Chloe Morrison


Today’s GTG Workshop is a colourful and fun activity for a cold and grey day – making a beautiful abstract sun collage, inspired by legendary African-American artist and teacher Alma Thomas. Chloe Morrison guides you through step-by-step, and you can download the worksheet too!

You will need:

  • A sheet of white paper or card
  • A pencil
  • A ruler
  • Glue or Pritt Stick
  • A pair of suitable scissors
  • Coloured paper (alternatively, you can use paint sample cards, scraps of fabric, or magazine clippings)
  • A circular or cylindrical object to trace around, e.g., a tin, jar, glass, bottle or vase

About the artist

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891 – 1978) was an African American abstract painter. Her works are renowned for their distinctive brushstrokes and exuberant use of colour. Alma Thomas applied vivid shades of paint to her canvases in short, precise patches, creating irregular, striking patterns. She would often arrange these marks in vertical stripes or concentric circles. 

In Thomas’s circular works, rings of colours appear to radiate out from a central point, like rays of light emanating from the sun.

Alma Thomas, The Eclipse, 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 1978.40.3

You can see more of Alma Thomas’s paintings on the Smithsonian American Art Museum website.

Funded by Community Foundation NI.

GTG welcomes our new Gallery Assistant!


Golden Thread Gallery is delighted to welcome Katharine Paisley to the gallery staff team, as our new Gallery Assistant. It was a long wait for us all, as lockdown delayed our recruitment process!

In this role Katharine will provide assistance and support across the Gallery’s programme and range of activities, from liaising with artists, institutions and funders to general administration, exhibition assistance and introducing visitors to our new Covid-19 gallery guidelines when they arrive.

Katharine is a visual artist whose work is currently focused on creating representational oil paintings and experimental videos which explore the evidence behind the Anthropocene. She is a resident emerging artist at Flax Art Studios, and completed a BA Fine Art degree at the University of Central Lancashire.

Golden Thread Gallery is supported by Arts Council NI and Belfast City Council.

GTG Artists Present: Aisling O’Beirn


Artist and Belfast School of Art lecturer Aisling O’Beirn has created this wonderful film collage tour of her studio, and a gallery of work for our latest edition of GTG Artists Present.



Aisling states that her work “explores relationships between politics, space and place, uncovering tensions between disparate forms of official and unofficial information. I examine space and place as physical structures and political entities through sculpture and animations relating to observed and theoretical structures being studied by contemporary astronomers and physicists.”


“I use a range of materials and process for installation and site-specific work, depending on context. Dialogue and discussion are key to participatory projects which have often involved long periods of research. The work is shown in galleries and a variety of public contexts.”

“I established dialogical relationships with astronomers at a range of institutions for recent projects focusing lay persons understandings of astronomy and theoretical physics. The body of work Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, was developed through ongoing dialogue with Armagh Observatory. Quaternion Quest resulted from work with Dunsink Observatory (The Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin) whilst Light Years from Here through The Centre for Astronomy NUIG, Galway.”

“These works explore ways laypersons attempt to understand scientific and political developments and how these articulate something of the political landscape. Failure and the unexpected are often integral to my processes, beginning projects from the stance of not knowing but seeking to understand. Dialogue, planning and long term engagement are key to this practice which evolves through both formal and metaphorical means. Many of my dialogical methods, interest in politics and pedagogy also extend from my roles as an art school lecturer and trade union rep.”

“With all these works I set myself the task of trying to understand difficult or abstract scientific problems using dialogue with astronomers through making, using the process of making to try to comprehend and discuss. When manipulating materials I have to physically and spatially grapple with various forces and phenomena such entropy, order, disorder and balance which can be understood both scientifically and politically. This making results in a variety of sculptural forms, whilst documenting the dialogical process of making, discussing, seeking feedback from scientists and modifying result in video works and animations.”


Aisling will also take over the GTG Instagram this weekend, with more insights into her work and inspirations!

GTG Artists Present is funded by Community Foundation NI.

Images Credits

  1. Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, installation shot MAC International 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo Simon Mills, Curated by Hugh Mulholland, MAC Belfast  Anne Barlow, Tate St Ives & Başak Şenova curator Crosssections
  2. 2) Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, installation shot MAC International 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo Simon Mills
  3. 3) Installation shot of Slices of Time in Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law. Photo Simon Mills
  4. 4) Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, Ursa Major, installation shot MCAC gallery 1, mixed media, dimensions variable, curated by J. Baker
  5. 5 Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, Uma Upsillion, curated by J. Baker
  6. Boolean Logic, Instillation shot and detail, salvaged timber, easel & drawing on Fabiano, dimensions variable, Glucksman, Cork, curated by F. Kearney
  7. Boolean Logic, Instillation shot and detail, salvaged timber, easel & drawing on Fabiano, dimensions variable, Glucksman, Cork
  8. Light Years From Here (622, Hirji: Albaset Dhanoon) , in Tulca, The Headless city, 2016, curated by Daniel Jewesbury
  9. Idir Iarracht agus Teip / Between Attempt and Failure, Danlann Dillon Belfast, ladders, easel, salvaged timbers and clamps, dimensions variable, installation shot 2016
  10. Quaternion Quest ‘The Bridge’, salvaged timber & clamps, dimensions variable, the LAB, Dublin 2014, curated by S. Barrett

GTG presents ‘Not Alone’, a unique touring exhibition for our strange new world…


Inspired by a fragment of an old song, Golden Thread Gallery director Peter Richards had an idea for an entirely new kind of exhibition, one that could overcome the distances forced between artists and curators worldwide by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not Alone is an exhibition in a bottle, containing eight new works from some of the leading artists on this island: Graham Gingles, Joy Gerrard, Sharon Kelly, John Rainey, Chloe Austin, Ailbhe Greaney, Megan Doherty and Clare Gallagher. Each has created a piece of art tiny or portable enough to fit inside a glass bottle, yet powerful enough to convey vast philosophies, stories and ideas, and endless possibilities of interpretation.

Packed up, the exhibition will now be sent out into our strange new world to international curators who will each mount the exhibition/s in their own homes. Installing and arranging the works in their space as they see fit, they will each create a new configuration, new context and new connections for the exhibition.

They will then pack Not Alone back into its bottle, and send it on to the next destination. At this moment in time it is on its way to Bologna, Italy, where the first curator, Chiara Matteucci, is waiting.

And after that, it will go to Rome, and then Amsterdam, and then… to destinations as yet unknown. It may never return, but we will follow its journey around Europe and share each iteration of the exhibition online.

Read the full story of the inspiration for this unique exhibition for our times, including more information on the artists and the artworks, in the presentation below.


Media enquiries:

Mary Stevens, Exhibitions Officer, Golden Thread Gallery info@gtgallery.co.uk / 028 90 330920 / www.goldenthreadgallery.co.uk

GTG Director and curator Peter Richards is available for interview, as are the artists involved.

Notes to editors:
Golden Thread Gallery (GTG) has played an important role in the provision of contemporary visual art in Belfast and Northern Ireland since it was established in 2001. Our mission is to present quality and innovative artistic programmes that capture the diversity of contemporary arts practice, and which engage, educate, challenge and inspire. We strive to build and engage the widest possible audience for contemporary arts, extending the reach of the arts, nurturing a deep understanding and enjoyment of current visual arts practice within the broader community, while developing, supporting and promoting the work of contemporary Northern Irish artists and visual arts practice. The GTG is a recognised charity, and our core funders are the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.