GTG Gallery Talks: Joy Gerrard


Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions the wonderful exhibition ‘Put It To The People‘ by Joy Gerrard is currently closed to the public. In lieu of being able to see the artworks in real life, we are delighted to bring you this unique and in-depth interview with the artist. Exhibitions Officer Mary Stevens speaks to Joy about the exhibition, her art practice, and plans for the future in a fascinating conversation which provides unique insight into this exceptional artist’s work.



Filmed and edited by Simon Mills. With thanks to Joy Gerrard, Arts Council NI and Belfast City Council.

The run of ‘Put It To The People’ is extended to 18th December, so book your visit now from our reopening on 14th Novembre!


GTG welcomes our Community Foundation NI New Needs Intern!


Thanks to support from the Community Foundation NI New Needs award, the Golden Thread Gallery has created a new paid internship role for an individual who identifies as a member of the Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Following interviews last month, we are delighted to welcome Esther Andare to the team!

“I’m Esther, the new BAME intern, I will be joining the gallery for six months. I’ve lived in Belfast for the past three years studying History at Queen’s. I’m headed into this role with the aim of improving participation of ethnic minorities at the GTG, and highlighting the work of often under-represented artists from an ethnic minority. I’m also excited to expand my knowledge of what happens behind the scenes of an art gallery!”

The internship is a training role which will include working with the gallery team and volunteers, liaising with artists and arts organisations, learning about arts funding in Northern Ireland and beyond, developing outreach activities, exhibition assistance, and visitor experience across the Gallery’s programme and range of activities.

Throughout the 6-month period as Esther gains experience and new skills across the gallery’s operations, she will also work with us to devise a new series of workshops, talks and online events specifically targeted at participants from Northern Ireland’s growing multi-ethnic communities.

We’re excited to have Esther on board, and look forward to working with her!

‘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.


GTG Artists Present: Aisling O’Beirn


Artist and Belfast School of Art lecturer Aisling O’Beirn has created this wonderful film collage tour of her studio, and a gallery of work for our latest edition of GTG Artists Present.



Aisling states that her work “explores relationships between politics, space and place, uncovering tensions between disparate forms of official and unofficial information. I examine space and place as physical structures and political entities through sculpture and animations relating to observed and theoretical structures being studied by contemporary astronomers and physicists.”


“I use a range of materials and process for installation and site-specific work, depending on context. Dialogue and discussion are key to participatory projects which have often involved long periods of research. The work is shown in galleries and a variety of public contexts.”

“I established dialogical relationships with astronomers at a range of institutions for recent projects focusing lay persons understandings of astronomy and theoretical physics. The body of work Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, was developed through ongoing dialogue with Armagh Observatory. Quaternion Quest resulted from work with Dunsink Observatory (The Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin) whilst Light Years from Here through The Centre for Astronomy NUIG, Galway.”

“These works explore ways laypersons attempt to understand scientific and political developments and how these articulate something of the political landscape. Failure and the unexpected are often integral to my processes, beginning projects from the stance of not knowing but seeking to understand. Dialogue, planning and long term engagement are key to this practice which evolves through both formal and metaphorical means. Many of my dialogical methods, interest in politics and pedagogy also extend from my roles as an art school lecturer and trade union rep.”

“With all these works I set myself the task of trying to understand difficult or abstract scientific problems using dialogue with astronomers through making, using the process of making to try to comprehend and discuss. When manipulating materials I have to physically and spatially grapple with various forces and phenomena such entropy, order, disorder and balance which can be understood both scientifically and politically. This making results in a variety of sculptural forms, whilst documenting the dialogical process of making, discussing, seeking feedback from scientists and modifying result in video works and animations.”


Aisling will also take over the GTG Instagram this weekend, with more insights into her work and inspirations!

GTG Artists Present is funded by Community Foundation NI.

Images Credits

  1. Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, installation shot MAC International 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo Simon Mills, Curated by Hugh Mulholland, MAC Belfast  Anne Barlow, Tate St Ives & Başak Şenova curator Crosssections
  2. 2) Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, installation shot MAC International 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo Simon Mills
  3. 3) Installation shot of Slices of Time in Extracts from Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law. Photo Simon Mills
  4. 4) Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, Ursa Major, installation shot MCAC gallery 1, mixed media, dimensions variable, curated by J. Baker
  5. 5 Another Day in Futile Battle Against the 2nd Law, Uma Upsillion, curated by J. Baker
  6. Boolean Logic, Instillation shot and detail, salvaged timber, easel & drawing on Fabiano, dimensions variable, Glucksman, Cork, curated by F. Kearney
  7. Boolean Logic, Instillation shot and detail, salvaged timber, easel & drawing on Fabiano, dimensions variable, Glucksman, Cork
  8. Light Years From Here (622, Hirji: Albaset Dhanoon) , in Tulca, The Headless city, 2016, curated by Daniel Jewesbury
  9. Idir Iarracht agus Teip / Between Attempt and Failure, Danlann Dillon Belfast, ladders, easel, salvaged timbers and clamps, dimensions variable, installation shot 2016
  10. Quaternion Quest ‘The Bridge’, salvaged timber & clamps, dimensions variable, the LAB, Dublin 2014, curated by S. Barrett

GTG Artists Present: Ursula Burke


The Golden Thread is delighted to continue our series of new short films by artists reflecting on their work with a piece by Irish artist Ursula Burke.

Ursula’s film ‘From Canova to De Chirico’ looks at the integration of the classical and the surreal in her art.



About the Artist

Ursula Burke is an Irish artist who works in a variety of media including Porcelain Sculpture, Embroidery Sculpture and Drawing.

She currently has a solo exhibition at the Ulster Museum titled A False Dawn. She recently undertook an artist residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris and a solo exhibition also titled A False Dawn.

She is winner of the Golden Fleece Award and the Visual Artists Ireland Suki Tea Award – March 2018. She undertook an artist residency and group exhibition titled So It Is with the Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh, Jan – April 2017 and was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British School at Rome Fellowship in 2014. She is Joint Prize Winner of the Claremorris Open, Ireland 2015. Solo Exhibitions include The Precariat, The RHA Gallery, Dublin 2018; The Precariat, The Dock Arts Centre, Leitrim; Solo representation at Supermarket Art Fair Stockholm by Ormston House Limerick, March 2017; ‘Vestiges’ at Ormston House, Limerick September 2016 & ‘Vestige’ at the Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, during May 2016.

She undertook a major solo exhibition titled ‘Hope for a Better Past’ with the MAC Belfast, 2013 and worked with the National Portrait Gallery London on ’National Memories local Stories’ project during the same year. She is an Associate Academician of the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


GTG Artists Present is funded by Community Foundation NI

Buon viaggio Chiara!


Last week we said farewell to our wonderful Erasmus trainee Chiara Matteucci, as she was finally able to return home to Bologna, Italy after being stranded in Belfast during lockdown. We already miss her so much!

The Covid-19 pandemic restrictions kicked in soon after Chiara’s placement at the GTG began. In the strangest of circumstances she quickly became an invaluable part of the team, taking a pivotal role in delivering our online programme. In addition to carrying out a huge and overdue reorganisation of our exhibition archive, Chiara is our Instagram guru!


We asked her to write about her time with us, and as always it’s great!


Something forever

By Chiara Matteucci

‘When I packed my clothes and I was ready to depart for my Erasmus + traineeship I wasn’t expecting that it would turn out in this way. Well, no one expected that the whole year 2020 would turn out this way, but, let me say, if you decide to go through a worldwide pandemic in a foreign country, far away from home (precisely 1416 miles), things are slightly amplified. I don’t blame anyone, there were a couple of opportunities to fly back home but I considered it safer to stay here in Belfast and keep going with my Erasmus traineeship at the Golden Thread Gallery.

So here we are, at the end of this unique experience, which has unfolded as the most useful experience I’ve ever had – and all the thanks go to the team in the Gallery who supported (and endured) me in these pandemic months. I can’t hide that I would have wanted to have a chance to explore Belfast better (I’m still wondering how drinking a pint of beer in a pub after work would be) instead of knowing only the route to the gallery and back home, which by the way I can do with my eyes closed now.  And, of course, I missed all the beauty of seeing how to install and de-install an exhibition, talking with the artists during the vernissages and dealing with feedback of the public which, if you work with contemporary artworks, can often be incredibly controversial.

But if there’s something that I learned from this lockdown is to focus on the good things (the famous saying “looking at the glass as half full” has always turned out to be right) and, after four months of smart working, even though I exposed myself to an emotional rollercoaster, I can definitely say that I couldn’t have learned more work-wise. Even in a small and open listener team such as the Golden Thread Gallery, there are fixed roles. But during this period things have changed because we all have been exposed to something new, unexpected for the team and for me.  Together, meeting after meeting (God bless Zoom), we have formulated a virtual response to the quarantine, trying to keep the Gallery alive against the uncertain and suspended reality created by the virus. 

I clearly remember what the director Peter told me during one of our conversations about the art system – “If we were in a normal situation, probably me and you would never have met” and this is true. Someone could negatively interpret this sentence but in my case, this is where is hidden my half-full glass: the lockdown gave me the possibility to work in a unique (albeit virtual) environment, to be actively involved in the creation of content and I couldn’t be happier.

PS: Something forever is the title of a 2000 exhibition by Ian Charlesworth and Eoghan McTigue that the Golden Thread Gallery hosted in its old venue on the Crumlin Road. Have a look at the online archive, I proudly re-organised it!’

June 2020, Bologna via Belfast


We cannot wait to watch Chiara’s career in the arts develop, we know there will be so much success ahead for her. And we look forward to welcoming her back to Belfast for a visit someday soon so she can explore our brilliant city… and we can finally buy her that well-deserved pint!

GTG Revisits ‘Better Society’


Each week during lockdown, GTG Director Peter Richards revisits one of our past exhibitions on Instagram and shares his personal reflections on the show and its contexts, then and now. This week he looks back to 2000 and the exhibition Better Society, which brought together work by Phil Collins, Daniel Jewesbury and Colin Darke.


Better Society 

Phil Collins, Colin Darke, Daniel Jewesbury

21st September – Sat 28th October 2000

I wouldn’t have started from here

“It’s increasingly appropriate to quote this phrase from Daniel, especially when writing any reflection on our past programme; or indeed, any History of Northern Irish Art; or come to think of it, any history as we understand it, at this moment in time.

Better Society brought together three distinct projects/bodies of work, by the three artists Phil, Daniel and Colin. Phil had just returned from a residency in L.A, Colin from Finland and Daniel, I can’t remember right now, but he was always somewhere or other. Each had developed works in response to observations on related societal models. 

The exhibition didn’t ever set out to offer a model what a Better Society could be, rather it offered an opportunity to confront ways we were engaging with the dominant socio-political models of the day. That proposed action seems ever more relevant today.

Preamble

So, I’ve started from here on this occasion … on another day it could have started from somewhere other…  I’d begun to be involved with the programming of the Golden Thread Gallery after having had a solo exhibition ‘Another Something Other’ there in 1999. 

The gallery was started by Gail Prentice in 1998 as an artist-led project. At the time of this exhibition the gallery was not receipt of any annual funding, it had no paid staff, rather it received sporadic project support and occasional sponsorship. The gallery had a different purpose and played a role different to its current configuration.  Though many of the motivations that informed its approach to programming continue to resonate.

It was a time when we worked predominately with our peer group – fortunately for us, we thought it was a great peer group, and a great time for visual art in Belfast. It felt like Belfast’s Art scene was poised to … or at least in a good place from which to… be at what now feels like a good moment in a perpetual cycle of endlessly differed potential. 

We were working with our knowledge of what our peer group was doing; what they were being paid to do elsewhere; and then creating opportunities to present this work to local audiences. We looked to set up new narratives, dialogues between works, whilst maintaining space for all works to be engaged with on their own. 

Subjects for, approaches to, exhibitions and exhibition making, primarily grew out of conversations. They tended to begin with an invitation to artists to come together with us and test a conversation further over coffee. I remember having lots of coffee with lots of artists…”

Peter Richards, June 2020


GTG Artists Present: Ian Cumberland


This week we’re delighted to work with artist Ian Cumberland, as he shares a new film that looks back at his 2018 exhibition at the GTG, a common fiction. (Please note: the film has sound, but no voiceover).

Ian’s work in this exhibition explored new methods of painting for him; moving towards wider, more immersive installation experiences. Detailed portraiture was staged within the space and extended with fabric, neon and video work. This ‘staging’ framed the paintings in a context that is found within the imagery of the paint itself, bringing the viewer a different perspective of looking at his work. The paintings were expanded, the landscape of each work brought out and into the gallery.


About the artist

Born in Banbridge in Co Down, Ian Cumberland studied at The University of Ulster, where he was awarded the John and Rachael Turner Award for the most outstanding student in 2006. He has established a national and international reputation for his highly realistic portraits.

Ian is perhaps best known for his hyper realistic large oil paintings, including his award winning ‘Heads’ series. The surfaces of Cumberland’s paintings record the innate detail of flesh, pattern and texture in highly detailed precision.

Solo Exhibitions

2019  ‘A Common Fiction/Once removed’, Josef Filipp Gallery, Leipzig, Germany
2018  ‘A Common Fiction’, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland
2016  ‘Once Removed’, MCAC, Portadown, Northern Ireland
2012  Albemarle Gallery, London, UK
2008 Albemarle Gallery, London, UK

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019 JD Malat Gallery, London, UK
‘I’ll be your mirror’, Josef Filipp Gallery, Leipzig, Germany
Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum, Belfast, UK
‘SAGA’, Paintguide, Hong Kong
2018 ‘A Brand New Darkness’, Abridged, Galway Arts Centre, Ireland
2017 ‘Winter Open’, RUA Red, Dublin, Ireland
‘Delusional’, Jonathan Levine Projects, New Jersey, USA
Royal Ulster Academy, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
2016 ‘Portraits of a Nation’, Farmleigh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
2015 ‘BP Portrait Award’ (Touring Exhibition), The National Portrait Gallery, London, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Ulster Museum, Belfast, UK
2014 ‘Presently’, MCAC, Portadown, Northern Ireland
‘184th Annual Exhibition’, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland


GTG Artists Present is funded by the Community Foundation NI

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 Artists Present: On Visibility by John Rainey


Sculptor John Rainey looks back at his 2016 solo show ‘On Visibility’, with this new online presentation exploring the exhibition; a series of sculptures in porcelain, silicone and mixed media. 

On Visibility considers the persistence of images, mediated disclosure and slippages between form and formlessness in the creation of digital representation.”



About the Artist: 

John Rainey is a sculptor based in Northern Ireland, working mainly with 3D print technologies and ceramics. He completed his master’s degree at the Royal College of Art, London, in 2012. John is an associated artist of Marsden Woo Gallery, London, where his first solo exhibition was held in 2013. In the same year, he completed a four-month residency at Konstfack University for the Creative Arts as the Anglo-Swedish Society’s Visual Arts Scholar and was selected to produce a large-scale installation for “COLLECT 2013 Project Space” at the Saatchi Gallery, London. Recent exhibitions include ‘Flayground’ at the BERG Gallery, Stockholm and ‘Crowded Thresholds’ at the National Design and Craft Gallery, Kilkenny.

On Visibility is the result of Rainey’s ACES award, which he received from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 2014.

GTG Artists Present is funded by the Community Foundation NI.