‘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.


‘Not Alone’ touring exhibition now in Bologna


The Golden Thread Gallery’s unique touring exhibition ‘Not Alone’ arrived in Bologna on 30th August. Curator Chiara Matteucci unpacked and installed the artworks in her home, and has been sharing her iteration of the exhibition online for the past week on social media. She’s also shared her own perspective on the project, and where she believes it fits in the field of exhibition-making. Chiara writes:

“The title ‘Not Alone” comes from a Police song, Message in a Bottle. During the quarantine, how many of us experienced a sense of alienation without being lost on a remote island? That nostalgia for social life, human contact, and the possibility of seeing live artworks, is the emotion that moves the project at its beginning; in parallel with the necessity to create something different, able to re-enact old mechanisms and to get people used to the wait, to their right of taking their time to do everything, even experience an exhibition.”


Sign of Distress, Version 1. Black Lives Matter March. Washington DC. June 4th 2020 & Sign of Distress, Version 2. Black Lives Matter March. Washington DC. June 4th 2020 2020 Joy Gerrard, with To think about things together that appear to be separate 2020 John Rainey

“Almost all of the artists involved decided to create something concrete, more traditional (if we can still use this term), albeit all of them were free to create whatever they want, except for one condition: the artwork had to be able to travel in a bottle. The fact that the artists decided to use traditional media, from sculptures to paintings, to printed photographs, make me think… Is this a coincidence? Or is it a stance, a necessity to take a step back from the digital world? If it’s the latter, is it correct to take that distance?”


Sutured 2020 Sharon Kelly

“The migration of the Art World online has separated intellectuals in two currents: those who are pro digital and those against, who consider the Internet as a short-term solution.  But during this unusual period, we’ve all been grateful to the web and its potentialities. All the art members, from institutions to artists and curators, have tried to exploit as much as they can the digital world to keep themself (and us) alive. Instagram takeovers, podcasts, virtual tours, but also online performances were all been ways to share and make art everywhere. This possibility of being connected with people who comes from the other part of the world, that they might never afford to come overseas to see an exhibition, it is definitely something that we can’t neglect, and it is, in my opinion, the best quality of the Web.”


Disappear 2020 Megan Doherty [on wall] with Through A Pane H91X6XN – BT180AJ 3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 19, 20 2020 Ailbhe Greaney [on table, left] and Glass Tower 2020 Graham Gingles

“This democratic aspect of the world wide web, connecting all the public realm with the cultural system – it belongs to the home, too.”

“Before considering it as a cage, the house has been our refuge and sometimes an art space. To demonstrate this, the Art History is full of subversive examples of exhibitions which took place outside the museums and the famous white cube. Digging more, there is a long thread of art exhibitions in houses that starts from 1986 with the famous Chambres d’Amis at Gand, it passed through The Kitchen curated by Olbrist and arrives at nowadays.”


The Second Shift: On Crumbs of Shadow 2020 Clare Gallagher

“If the art system has tried to make Art eternal, neutral, and exclusive, the house gave it back to where it belongs: to the real world. In the house indeed the artworks start to live again, the fruition of them changes and merges with the emotional sphere of the house itself, full of the memories of its owner. Inside the house there are no more hierarchies, it is accessible to everyone; the cultural elite is replaced with the mass. Exactly as the digital realm has done from its beginning, and more and more with the arrival of social media, using its devices to make Art available in a click.”


Kairos 2020 Chloe Austin [on monitor] with
The Second Shift: On Crumbs of Shadow 2020 Clare Gallagher
She is 2020 Chloe Austin
Glass Tower 2020 Graham Gingles

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.

GTG offering new BAME paid internship!


Closing date midnight Friday 4th September 2020.

The Golden Thread Gallery is pleased to announce that we are offering a new paid internship for an individual who identifies as a member of the Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, supported by funding from the Community Foundation NI New Needs fund. Previous experience in the Arts sector is not required, and there is no age limit for applicants.

The intern will provide assistance and support across the Gallery’s programme and range of activities. Responsible to the Senior Management, this training role will include working with the gallery team and volunteers, liaising with artists and arts organisations, learning about arts funding in Northern Ireland and beyond, general administration including financial procedures, developing outreach activities, exhibition assistance, and visitor experience. The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to the work of the organisation, rather than taking on a purely shadowing role.

This role offers a fantastic training opportunity in one of Northern Ireland’s leading contemporary visual art galleries. For candidates, the internship could be either their first experience of a role in the Arts sector, or the ‘next step’ on from, for example, a volunteering role. Previous experience of working in the arts is not a requirement.

We intend this internship to provide mentoring and training for working in the arts for the successful BAME candidate, but also to work as an exchange, in which our intern can highlight to us what we need to do differently to reach BAME audiences and participants. Throughout the 6-month period as the intern gains experience and new skills across the gallery’s operations, they will also work with us to devise a series of workshops specifically targeted at BAME participants.

We will host a series of talks and discussions inviting people from across the Arts sector (visual arts, music, theatre, literature, dance) to see how we can work together to make the arts in Northern Ireland more accessible to BAME communities, and how we can attract BAME candidates to arts jobs in the sector. We do not have the expertise to do this on our own, as we do not presume to know the many specific needs and interests of this diverse and growing section of our population.

About the Golden Thread Gallery

Since its establishment in 2001, the Golden Thread Gallery (GTG) has built its reputation as a leading visual art provider through engagement with recent histories and re-imagined futures. As a contemporary visual art gallery, our purpose is to present innovative artistic programmes of high quality that embrace the breadth and variety of contemporary arts practice, and to develop, support and promote the work of contemporary Northern Irish artists and creative practice. Our motto with outreach has always been “Nothing about us without us”, meaning that we do not speak for communities, but rather work with them to devise projects that they want.

Key Info

  • Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday
  • Working Hours: 32hpw. Hours determined by a monthly rota and will include evenings and weekends. Applicants must be flexible to the needs of the organization.
  • Duration of Internship: 26 weeks
  • Salary: £8.75ph (full time equivalent £18,200)
  • Leave: 28 days annual holiday pro rata (including Bank Holidays)
  • Contract: This is a 6-month training position. Please note that this appointment is subject to continuing funding/grant aid, and the contract may terminate earlier if funding is withdrawn.

Please note: this role is specifically intended for a member of the Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities.

Application Packs can be downloaded below or emailed on request.

Closing date for applications is midnight on Friday 4th September 2020. Applications must be emailed to info@gtgallery.co.uk

Disclaimer: This document does not constitute an offer of employment nor forms any part of any contract.

FAQ

Why is this opportunity specifically for people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities?

No studies have been done in Northern Ireland to look at the cultural makeup of its workforces, but Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries was the first sociological study on social mobility in the cultural industries, released by Create London and Arts Emergency on April 16th, 2018. In it, it found that across the UK, in Museums, Galleries and Libraries only 2.7% of employees were from BAME backgrounds.

Given the tiny proportion of BAME communities in Northern Ireland, in order to help these communities #buildbackbetter we need to take direct action to include them in the Northern Irish visual arts sector.

Isn’t a BAME-only opportunity another kind of discrimination?

We don’t believe it is. This internship is designed to address an identified under-representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in certain roles in the Arts sector, particularly in Northern Ireland. This role is a paid training and development opportunity for a 6-month period, and is permitted under current legislation.

We know that BAME communities have been disadvantaged across every area of society, and in trying to reach diverse communities through our arts activities is it clear that this lack of representation is stopping us reaching BAME communities.

By taking this positive action to limit applicants to the internship to members of the BAME community, we will ensure that BAME needs and interests are given a voice in the Northern Irish visual arts sector.

I think the term ‘BAME’ is insulting and should not be used.

We understand that ‘BAME’ is seen by many people as an overly broad and clunky term, which doesn’t reflect the complexity of the many different categories that people may belong to, nor the many ethnicities and nationalities that it includes. We’re using it as an administrative term for brevity and clarity, as it is the most widely used term within the Arts sector and employment research. We hope to work with our successful candidate to find better language.

Do I need to have previous experience in the Arts sector to apply?

No, previous experience is not a requirement. We are looking for someone with a passion for the Arts who can make good use of this opportunity to develop their career, work with us to address issues around representation and bring us new ideas, but who may be at an early stage of their career or seeking a change of career. If you have transferable skills from other jobs and experience, an interest in the Arts and believe you could fulfil the role as described, you are welcome to apply.

Is there an age limit for candidates?

No, we welcome applications from candidates of any age for this role.

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.


Free GTG art activity sheets to download!

While the GTG is temporarily closed to the public our family workshops are postponed, but we’re sharing lots of art activities online. Download, print, colour in and please share completed works of art with us!

Here are some activity sheets we created for exhibitions by artists Sharon Kelly Patrick Colhoun and Megan Doherty Click on the artists names to take a look back at their shows.

We’re also sharing a wonderful Time Capsule project that schools have encouraged pupils to create!

Send us pictures of your budding artists finished activity sheets, so we can include them in our online Junior Gallery exhibition! Look how empty it is right now… we need your creativity!

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.”

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.

Discover the GTG Bookshop with our team’s top picks

Did you know the GTG has one of the best art bookshops in Northern Ireland? Our shop features beautiful art hardcovers, rare exhibition catalogues, archive and current magazines and definitive texts on Northern Irish art and artists, like our ‘Collective Histories‘ series. Sales from the bookshop all go to support the Gallery, and many of the books are available in our online shop too.

To help you choose your next buy, each week we’ll highlight one of our GTG Team favourites. Starting this week with ‘Are You Adult?’ by Whitenoise, as chosen and reviewed by our awesome volunteer Katharine Paisley.


“Flicking through the vast array of books on offer in the gallery’s library, my attention is grabbed by one title in particular, ‘Are You Adult?’. Quite appropriate timing seeing as tomorrow I will be turning twenty four. A figure which sounds a lot more daunting to me than twenty three. No longer within the catchment for a Translink ylink card, adulthood seems to be cementing itself around me.

However, I am not alone in my horror; raising a smile and an eyebrow the odd time, ‘Are you Adult?’ takes you on a joyous and sometimes satirical jaunt through the the exciting and occasionally hazardous journey into adulthood. With a mix of bold colourful fonts, humorous quotes and delicately illustrated pages, not only is it the epitome of Instagram aesthetic but also incredibly relatable.

Coming into their 18th year, Whitenoise paused to look back at how it matured from a start up to a fully fledged studio. Hand-drawn illustrations, photography, 3D-modelling and intricately layered Photoshop files produced by the Whitenoise studio team, take us on a journey through the transition into adulthood; delving into the highs, the lows and everything in between. 

The book launch coincided with Belfast Culture Night, 2018, within an exhibition at Belfast Exposed displaying work created on the theme of growing up.

According to the studio’s founders the Two Marks, ‘…with this book we set ourselves the task of visualising what it was like to transition from childhood to the world of grown ups. Taking in the whole spread of emotions, be they positive, negative or ‘whatever’, in these pages you’ll find things that may spark your own memories, challenge your thinking and hopefully even raise a smile.’

It certainly did that for me.”