Not Alone in The Dollhouse

Another new (temporary) home for our exhibition in a bottle! Last weekend the repacked artworks were driven across the Netherlands to North Holland and delivered to curator Ciara Finnegan in The Dollhouse Space. Ciara is a visual artist from Northern Ireland who has been living and working in The Netherlands since 2008. She is also the director of The Dollhouse Space, a non-profit, experimental, bilocational contemporary art space with a virtual presence here and a physical presence in her home in Heemstede, North Holland.

Ciara has been installing the work in the Dollhouse, and creating her own beautiful art in response. This is her work inspired by John Rainey’s delicate porcelain sculpture.

A love letter to ‘To think about things together that appear to be separate.’

I should know better. Living half my life in a world of miniatures, I, if anything, should know deceits of scale! And yet, when I unpacked you, your tininess surprised me. 

I unwrapped you and held you. A palm full of hands. Yours in mine.
“Wow! Wow mummy! Actually, Wow!”
I’ve unpacked and packed you up again a hundred times today already, so scared am I of causing a fracture. A fissure. A flesh wound. You sit on my desk now, like an exquisite paperweight, a precious shell.
You are all right hands. 

(I only noticed this when we set to modelling our own versions of you in Play Doh.)
I place you on a mirror plate. There are your lefts. Take your partner by the hand! A round of applause, please!
Twelve hands, different colours: A family portrait.

Follow and explore Not Alone‘s new iteration at The Dollhouse Space on Instagram here and here.

Not Alone – catch up with our exhibition’s incredible journey so far!

So far, our unique touring exhibition Not Alone has…

  • Been viewed by 10,000 virtual visitors
  • Showcased new work by 8 Northern Irish and Irish artists to audiences across Europe.
  • Survived 9 packing and unpacking processes almost intact…
  • Clocked up over 2700 miles – the artworks have travelled from Belfast to Bologna, Bologna to Rome, across Rome, then on to Amsterdam… and there are more destinations to come!

Not Alone features new work by eight of the most exciting artists working on this island, in response to the state of the world right now: Sharon Kelly, Clare Gallagher, Joy Gerrard, Graham Gingles, Ailbhe Greaney, John Rainey, Megan Doherty and Chloe Austin. Each artwork was created to be tiny or portable enough to fit together inside a glass bottle and travel to different curators around Europe.

The exhibition was created for our new Covid-transformed world. With isolation measures, travel restrictions and quarantine rules affecting art exhibitions and collaborations in every way, GTG Director Peter Richards was inspired by a fragment of a classic song to imagine a visual arts message in a bottle.

In August 2020 Not Alone was sent out from Belfast to its first destination: Italy. When it arrived in Bologna, Chiara Matteucci became the first curator to create her own version of the exhibition, installing the artworks in her home. Then the exhibition travelled across Italy to Rome, where it was shown in the homes of two curators, Manuela Pacella and Micol di Veroli. Just before Christmas, the exhibition travelled over more than 1000 miles across Europe to the Netherlands, where it was installed in a communal space in the University of Amsterdam Art History department by Prof Christa Maria Lerm Hayes and her team.

Next for Not Alone, a shorter trip across the Netherlands to travel to the wonderful, appropriately tiny experimental space The Dollhouse in Heemstede and curator Ciara Finnegan. And then the exhibition will make its return to Northern Ireland! Its final destination in its current form will be Derry/Londonderry.

Watch this space for more details, including how we plan to welcome all the artworks home!