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.