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.”


GTG AWARDED ARTS COUNCIL NI ARTS & OLDER PEOPLE FUNDING

We are delighted to announce that the Golden Thread Gallery will be leading a new Arts Council of Northern Ireland Arts & Older People Project in partnership with Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart, Roe Valley Arts Centre in Limavady and The Over the Hill Collective in Belfast.

The True Confessions project will explore the links between music, memory, art and lyrics, taking the simple starting point that every participant will have a lifetime of stories to tell. Our artist facilitators will work with them using visual arts, music and poetry to unlock and share memories, reminiscences and stories.

Some participants may prefer to make a visual representation of their story using clay, collage, paint or drawing; others may choose to write a poem; while other may perform a self-written song. Each participant will be supported and encouraged to develop their own “voice”. The project will promote friendship and understanding through the shared experiences that are sure to be uncovered throughout.

Peter Richards, Gallery Director at the Golden Thread Gallery, says, ‘The processes of collaboration and uncovering yet-to-be discovered talents challenges and inspires us to see the world around us from fresh perspectives. We eagerly await the unexpected in the project’s final exhibition, formed through the juxtaposition of works yet to be created being shown alongside works well established.’

Desima Connolly, Cultural Facilities Development Manager for Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, commented, ‘We are delighted to be working on this project with the Golden Thread Gallery and to develop this partnership providing such a valuable creative project to the local  Causeway Coast and Glens region, particularly one that innovatively engages with senior citizens across the borough.’

Paul Kane, founder of The Over the Hill Music Collective said, ‘The links between music and memory are profound and working with older people in the community, especially those with dementia, really is beneficial to their wellbeing and quality of life. Coupled with the artistic element to the project, and it really is a win/win combination.

The project will be working with a number of groups from the Causeway Coast and Glens Council area including the West Bann Development, Coleraine and the Limavady Community Development Initiative.

Musician Paul Kane, ceramicist Fiona Shannon and artist Corrina Askin will lead the workshops which will be held at Flowerfield Art Centre and out in the community.

The project will culminate in a showcase concert featuring some of the participants own poems, stories and music as well as an exhibition curated by Peter Richards, Director of the Golden Thread Gallery, in which the older people’s work will be displayed alongside artworks from the ACNI Collection.

The exhibition will be held at Flowerfield Arts Centre in May 2020.

The project starts in January 2020. For more information please contact the Golden Thread Gallery on info@gtgallery.co.uk