‘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 Artists Present: The Illusion of Purpose by Victoria J. Dean


In response to the current situation the Golden Thread Gallery is engaging with artists and audiences in a different way. Thanks to funding from the Community Foundation NI, over the next few months we’ll be inviting Northern Ireland based artists to create a new digital exhibition of some of their past work with the GTG online, on our website and social media channels.

We’re delighted that our first artist is Victoria J. Dean, a photographic artist based in Belfast. Works from her series ‘The Illusion of Purpose’ were shown in our Project Space in 2018 as part of our ‘There and not there’ exhibition, alongside works by Sharon Murphy.

For GTG Artists Present Victoria has created a new digital presentation of the works shown in the gallery, with additional works from the series and a fascinating personal reflection on the project. Watch it here, or for a subtitled version please watch on our YouTube channel.

Her photographs are notable for their lack of people, yet they are not simple landscapes or seascapes, the structures are key. It is hard to tell exactly what the structures are; indeed, some of them appear so unlikely given their locale that they appear more like an illusion than fact. Their unlikeliness presents more questions than answers. Are the structures superimposed into the photograph? What is their purpose? Where are they? Dean deliberately does not give us the answers to any of those questions. Her fascination with how humans interpret what they see, how they organise, what they build and how it all contributes to society remains unanswered.

(c) 2020 Victoria J. Dean

About the Artist

Victoria J. Dean (b. Belfast, 1980) is a photographic artist based in Northern Ireland. She has exhibited and been published internationally including in 2018: Off_festival Bratislava: ‘The Anthropocene’, Slovakia; ‘LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards’, Klompching Gallery, New York; ‘There and not there’, the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; ‘188th RHA Annual Exhibition’, Dublin; ‘137th RUA Annual Exhibition’, Ulster Museum, Belfast, and previously: ‘On the Border between Time and Loss’, Galway Arts Centre, 2016; ‘Emerging’ (Slideshow Night), Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, and ‘Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’, London, 2015; ‘Circulation(s) 2014: Festival de la Jeune Photographie Européenne’, Paris, 2014; ‘Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography’, Belfast Exposed & The MAC, Belfast, 2013, and Magenta Foundation’s ‘Flash Forward’, Boston, London and Toronto, 2013-14; and ‘PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers’, New York, 2007. Represented by the Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast), Dean featured in ‘SCOPE’ New York and ‘Elective Perspective’, Galeria Arsenał in Białystok, Poland in 2010.

Dean received the Royal Ulster Academy Award for Outstanding Students on obtaining an MFA Photography with distinction from Belfast School of Art at Ulster University, and was selected by Olivia Arthur (Magnum) and Anna Sparham (Curator, Museum of London) in Source Magazine’s ‘Graduate Photography Online 2017 Selections’. A winner in the ‘LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2017’, Dean was also a finalist in the Klompching Gallery’s ‘FRESH 2017’. ‘The Illusion of Purpose’ book was published by Another Place Press in 2018.

Dean’s work is part of the David Kronn Collection, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, the Office of Public Works State Art Collection (Ireland), and a number of private collections in the UK and Ireland.


GTG Revisits ‘Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now’


While we’re closed, we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights of our exhibitions over the past year, and share the activity sheets for you to download and print at home. Please peruse some incredible art, then send us pictures of your own creations!


Last August the Golden Thread Gallery brought an incredible exhibition of contemporary Japanese art to Belfast. ‘Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now’ was co-curated by GTG Director Peter Richards, the Director of Art Center Ongoing in Tokyo Nozomu Ogawa and Belfast based Japanese artist, Shiro Masuyama. The exhibition included work by 11 different artists, with a broad spectrum of styles and approaches to contemporary art making.

Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now included spectacular live art events. Artist Takahiro Suzuki continued his global “生きろ (IKIRO) ” (meaning “Be Alive”) project in a durational performance in our Castlecourt pop-up space.

Takahiro Suzuki in Castlecourt Shopping Centre, Belfast, August 2019

You can watch a video of IKIRO on our Facebook page here or this one taken by the Power family on a visit to Castlecourt here!

IKIRO by Takahiro Suzuki in Belfast, August 2019

In Golden Thread Gallery One artist Yusuke Asai created a 17 metre long mud mural on-site, painting right on the gallery walls. He used soil and clay that he gathered here in Northern Ireland to paint his fantastical creatures and images of nature.



Shiro Masuyama’s installation work ‘Tokyo Landscape 2020‘ included an intricate motorised light ascending and descending over water to illuminate rows of plaster figures. Take a look at this video of the installation by Shiro.

Tokyo Landscape 2020 2018, Shiro Masuyama
Tokyo Landscape 2020 2018, Shiro Masuyama

Kyunchome’s video documentary ‘Making the Perfect Donut‘ begins with the idea of combining an American type donut with a sata andagi, an Okinawan donut, to create the ultimate deep-fried treat. But the piece explores the complicated history of American and Japanese relations, and the protests at the continuing presence of American military bases in Japan.

Still from Making the Perfect Donut 2017-2018, Kyunchome
Still from Making the Perfect Donut 2017-2018, Kyunchome

The exhibition also included video works by Takuro Kotaka, Hikaru Suzuki, Marico Aoki and Atsushi Yamamoto.

Atsushi’s piece was actually filmed in Belfast in 2014, during his residency with Flax Studios. In his video he walks around the city with his friends, dressed in a Japanese giant costume, responding to the mythology of Irish giant Finn McCool.

Atsushi Yamamoto and friends, 2014, Belfast
Spirit Disco 2017, Marico Aoki
The Village’s Bid for UFO 2017, Takuro Kotaka

Artist Fuyuka Shindo has also spent time in Belfast, having studied at Belfast School of Art and been artist-in-residence in Flax Studios. Conducting research in museums and archives, she looks at objects such as traditional costumes and old photographs.

Her finished pieces incorporate elements from both past and present, through imagery, materials used or techniques employed.

Artworks by Fuyuka Shindo in the GTG, August 2019. Photograph by Sophie Daly.
Who is this? 2015, Fuyuka Shindo

Midori Mitamura has also worked in Belfast at Flax, and is now based in Tokyo. She makes interactive installations using ready-mades and projected images.

Her installation ‘Green on the Mountain’ was inspired by a family photograph that she found in Europe.

Green on the Mountain 2003-2019, Midori Mitamura. Photograph by Sophie Daly.

With Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now, we offered our visitors in Belfast the opportunity to experience aspects of Japanese life through the eyes of some of its most talented contemporary artists. Their work explored Japan’s distinct cultural issues in addition to drawing out the artistic parallels that unite creative practices across international boundaries, allowing the exhibition and visitors to reflect on the similarities that exist within our own cultures.

Read a review of the exhibition by art writer Slavka Sverakova here.

Please download and print our activity sheets to create your own artworks inspired by the exhibition, and send us pictures!