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Past Exhibitions at Artlink
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Animate Illuminate - A Feast of Cultures

Artlink presents an innovative cross-community cross-cultural, multi-tradition series of workshops with young students from schools in Buncrana and the North West Regional College in Limavady, leading up to a stunning exhibition in the beautiful surrounding of Fort Dunree. The workshops are facilitated by LUXe, Joanna McGlynn and Mathew O’Kane and will use elements of animation, shadow-puppetry and and street arts/spectacle to explore the stories and mythologies across cultures, encourage dialogue and debate and ultimately tolerance and understanding.

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Here and There: Artists Selected for Fort Dunree

This annual project features art from recent degree and postgraduate shows selected by a panel of artists who know the unique locale and context of Fort Dunree. For 2011 the selectors were artists Ursula Burke, Sam Keogh, and Jim Ricks, who exhibited at Fort Dunree for Artlink in 2010.

In 1998 French curator/theorist Nicholas Bourriaud published a book entitled ‘Relational Aesthetics’, a term that sought to promote the idea that the artist was involved in creating a space in which relationships could be created between people and new conversations and ways of living started. He saw artists as facilitators rather than makers and regarded art as information exchanged between the artist and the viewers. It was a controversial point of view and had its supporters and critics. It could be developed however and this is what Artlink seeks to do in its Here and There exhibition at Fort Dunree. Taking work from Graduate and Postgraduate shows throughout Ireland Artlink wishes to create a dialogue about how contemporary art can work in a historic, military, rural setting such as Fort Dunree by allowing artists who have already shown there to choose work which they think fits in with the locational aesthetics, so to speak, of the site.

The term locational aesthetics is intended to imply creation of a debate as to how contemporary artwork can fit into the geographical, social, historical and political context of Fort Dunree. Fort Dunree is not a traditional ‘white-cube’ (clean lines, purpose built cube void of architectural/historic features) city-centre art space. Therefore for this exhibition, Artlink wishes to exhibit work that resonates with the specific site and setting of this Fort Dunree building. The art may not ‘speak’ directly about the context of this specific military fort, or of rural Donegal landscapes. But the art is selected as it starts new conversations on issues relevant to the site and setting of the Fort Dunree galleries i.e. histories, locations, people, traditions.

Marie Varley’s silkscreen print of blank stamp album graph paper is an oblique reference to symbols of national power and identity, in this instance the postage stamp, overtaken by new technologies and structures of power and meaning. William Smith’s work combines the form of an urn, which echoes (ancient) history and beliefs, with symbolism of the ‘atomic age’ as decorative motif, an echo of the twentieth century’s history and beliefs. Tim Millen’s paintings refer to historical themes of Romanticism in landscape painting, contrast a historical romantic representation of nature as an un-colonised frontier, wild and terrifyingly beautiful; with the contemporary condition of nature as urbanized, regulated and over-exploited. Cainneach Lennon’s Prairie Grass is completely at home in a rural landscape though at the same time is somewhat unsettling and alien. Billie Jean Cullen connects to the landscape, specifically narratives of those who work within it, through her study of the Irish forestry industry. Alissa Kleist’s work makes reference to a cultivated rainforest which was constructed on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, as resource for the British military base there, a manipulation of the ‘natural’ within a strategic location from which to exert power. Lesley Cherry’s The Knitted Word Project also retells stories leaving them open-ended rather than closed and dead. Marie Dollard’s works here are a juxtaposition of the traditional form of embroidery and the visceral concerns and associations prevalent within much contemporary art.

Iain McEllin explores how the systems and processes manipulated within making an artwork – here the mechanisms of printing – can test the limits of a viewer’s physical perception. Several other exhibiting artists give a new sense of purpose to old and discarded objects and create work from a concern with their form, surface and texture. The process of making these works of course continually creates new and chance occurrences, opening paths to the subconscious and to unexpected emotions and responses. Cathal McGinley uses found objects, which are often inherently fragile and ephemeral, ‘makes them feel good about themselves again’. Anne Marie Taggart works in a spontaneous manner with found objects creating new meaning through experimentation. Lucy Andrews creates unexpected scenarios and imagined narratives in her manipulation of everyday objects.

Artlink intends Here and There to develop as a opportunity to encounter contemporary art in a different and unique context.

Sarah Edge; Traces of Traces: An Exploration of the Albums of William McKinney

The bond between Inishowen and Scotland is particularly rich - from a heritage of shared ballads to language to family ties, from Scots people who came to settle in Ulster, to Donegal migrant workers and emigrants travelling back and forth between Inishowen to Scotland. Artlink’s exhibition at Fort Dunree from Jun eand through the Earagail Arts Festival 2011 is a fascinating insight into how an early Ulster photographer played his part in the forging of an Ulster-Scots relationship.

In this exhibition the contemporary artist photographer Sarah Edge make a new series of photographs looking at the photography collection of 19th century Ulster photographer William McKinney (which contains hundreds of fascinating personal 19th century family images and studies of rural workers and rural scenes). Sarah Edge’s new work looks at the visual traces that the William McKinney has left behind at his ancestral home in Sentry Hill, County Antrim which can work as clues to us unpicking his intentions within his own photographs. Alongside this exhibition and as part of her Artlink darkroom residency Sarah Edge will run a series of workshops that will use personal family photographs to investigate aspects of their own personal identities.

Sarah Edge is Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies at the University of Ulster where she is a member of the Centre for Media Research.

Sarah Edge’s exhibition at Fort Dunree is an exploration of how William McKinney created an identity for himself through his photography. This exhibition is new work which aims to create debate about how a personal and community identity can be shown through photography. She draws upon documents held in the William McKinney archive held in Sentry Hill, County. Sentry Hill was the home of the McKinney family, who came to Ireland from Scotland in the early 1700s.

William McKinney was born at Sentry Hill in 1832. Besides being a farmer, McKinney was a man of many interests with an absorbing love of the countryside. This intense interest in his own locality was carried into his hobby of photography which he took up in the 1880's. He photographed not only his family and friends but also everyday life on the farm: the men who worked in the fields and the many craftsmen and artisans who visited the farm, such as the journeyman tailor, the carpenter and the butcher. The small farmers and their families in the area too, received the attention of his camera. Altogether 600 plates were carefully labeled and stored

This exhibition examines how through photography McKinney attempted to highlight his own personal identity as well as establish himself as part of a specifically Ulster Scots heritage.

Professor Edge’s work involves revisiting the sites of historical photographs, re-photographing them and comparing these images against information drawn from the original photographs. This is done in a manner which will recall for the viewer the original meanings of the images. This is also the case with this project. Her process of creative working requires detailed research on the original collections to discover their meanings, which then allows a creative project to emerge from her findings.

 

Leonie Tang

"Memory is life, borne by living societies founded in its name... History, on the other hand, is the reconstruction, always problematic and incomplete, of what is no longer." - Pierre Nora

Leonie Tang will develop and present 'between document and memory' - a project based around the archive's of Ned Dunphy, scanning seven decades across a changing Ireland and its developing photographic technologies (c1920 -1980). This darkroom residency will give the artist a unique opportunity to examine, print, and archive the Dunphy collection. Tang's project itself examines the relevance of public and individual memory in relation to the formation of local and national history. Using her work with Ned's Archive as a model, the artist will actively engage both older people and the youth community in collaboratively constructing a local history of Buncrana. Through the process of collecting written, oral, photographic and pictorial remnants from the people of Ínis Eoghain, these focus groups will explore, assemble and present both official and unofficial histories. While Fort Dunree will provide an illuminating setting for both the artist and the local community to display work, the exhibition will be hosted on the occasion of the national bealtaine festival of arts for older people - presenting Fort Dunree as a site of celebration of local and national history, heritage, and culture.

For more info on the Ned Dunphy archive see http://leonietang.com/

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David Farquhar

The work ‘Fatigue Detail’ commenced in April 2010 as a response to an interest in the exploration of personal and human limits, and the view that the military may be a professional platform where this can occur. The initial work has involved photographing soldiers from the British Army's 2nd Battalion ‘The Rifles’ in the immediate aftermath of physical training exercises, most recently in training exercises in Kenya.

The work attempts to document the inherently ‘real’ physical reaction of the body to a simulated reality, as well as questioning the extent to which military training exercise can prepare for operational reality.

Fatigue Detail by David Farquhar is the opening part of a Fort Dunree Residency by the artist. This Residency will see the artist across 2011 research and explore the subject of endurance - the exploration of personal and human limits - in the lives of the local rural communities of Inishowen. This research will lead towards a new body of photographic work which will be exhibited at the Fort Dunree galleries one year on, in March 2012.

Fort Dunree is a former army base in Dunree on the mouth of Lough Swilly, County Donegal. Artlink will be commissioning new work by contemporary artists for the site throughout 2011.

David Farquhar is a 2010 graduate in Photography at University of Ulster where he studied under Paul Seawright. His work was selected for purchase during 2010 for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland collection.

Things to Remake and Do

Artlink is working with artist Martin Boyle, young people from Buncrana and the Buncrana Youth Drop In centre to transform a disused Buncrana shop space into a contemporary art workshop and exhibition.

Martin Boyle is a young artist from Donegal who transforms the things that people buy, use and consume into art that is about shopping, buying, and consuming. He sometimes uses things like sweets to make images and recycles materials like empty bottles to make sculpture. His work questions our ideas of value and lack of value within consumer goods. Always preferring to understate his point, through subtle manipulation or illusion he plays on our need for immediate gratification, transforming mass produced consumer objects and packaging into multiple forms through image making, video installation and sculptural pieces which reveal, unfold, expose their nature in both playful and performative ways.

Though playful there is a serious intent behind Boyle’s work which suits recession-hit Inishowen. Empty shops with ‘To Let’ signs are becoming ever more prevalent as entrepreneurial enterprises are stifled in the cold realities of recession. With this project, Artlink with Martin Boyle, and young people from Buncrana and the Buncrana Youth Drop In centre intervene directly into the local social/economic debate by choosing to turn an empty retail unit in Buncrana into a temporary gallery space. The project visually articulates through a contemporary art exhibition and associated workshops with young people (a group always the most likely to be adversely affected by recession) the issues of consumerism, our desire and need for consumer goods and ultimately the fragility of such desires.

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New Art Award Show

15th July - 11th August 2010

Ursula Burke: State of Grace

As Irish citizens, visitors or members or the global Irish community, we share a conceptual map that allows us instant access to images of Ireland. Round Towers, Heritage sites, Celtic Crosses, Guinness, Riverdance, pastoral landscapes filled with an abundance of cows and sheep and so fourth are all routinely deployed as emblematic of an Irish experience, an Irish image. Contemporary images of Ireland, however are characterized by rising immigration levels, a floundering economy and the realization of the self, no longer through Catholicism, but through consumer choices. Ireland has become global.  Furthermore, in an era where Ireland is witness to a variety of racial confections and national borders are increasingly made more fluid, does this make Irish cultural characteristics and heritage seem more or less important? The work contained within this exhibition attempts to destabilize representations of Irish cultural authenticity, viewed in contemporary terms. The promiscuous nature of meaning ascribed within any single or series of representations of or about contemporary Ireland has the subversive potential to activate, demystify or debunk our understanding of what it means or looks like or to be Irish in the twenty first century.

Sam Keogh: Babel

Acts of profanation, according to philosopher Giorgio Agamben, are a means to return what is sacred (and thus separated from man, through sacrifice) back to the use of man. This idea goes some way toward contextualising the artist Sam Keogh’s use of materials to make sacred objects which declare falseness and preciousness simultaneously. In playing with history, myth and forgery with impoverished material Keogh is playing with the mechanics of aura, power and ‘historicity’ manifest in material objects.

For this exhibition, Keogh focuses on Christian motifs and iconography. This subject matter is expropriated and subtly directed toward different ends – away from the realm of the sacred and toward a more immanent politics of value, representation and revolt.

Jim Ricks: 14th January 2009 (We will say it has nothing to do with us)

Jim Ricks uses a collection of Associated Press images dated from 14th January 2009, the time of Israel's invasion of Gaza, as the starting point for this exhibition.  The work negotiates an uncomfortable compromise between the provincial spheres of fashion and High Street vis-a-vis the daily reality of Palestinians living in Gaza. The work re-creates fragments from news photographs as sculptural objects and uses this process of re-fabricating as a vehicle for exploring the one of the most urgent political issues of our time, as well as to investigate the role of documentary photography in an age of consumerism, de-sensitisation and cultural tourism.

 

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Somewhere Else

Exhibition by Paul Kerr
May - June 2009

Artlink were delighted to host an exhibition of paintings by local artist Paul Kerr.  Kerr has been resident artist with Artlink since January 2008.

The Somewhere Else exhibition featured paintings produced before and during his time at Fort Dunree bringing together the varied sources that inspire him – nature, literature and perhaps even, spirituality.

"I chose the title "Somewhere Else" to give an idea of the effect this amazing place has had on me and how it has crept into my work. It wasn’t so much the natural beauty of the area that got to me, but rather the way that time and nature was breaking down and reclaiming everything around."

Paul has been a professional artist since moving to Dublin in 1996. He has exhibited throughout Ireland as well as taking part in shows in London, New York, Florence, Milan, Sidney, and Beijing. His online exhibition hosted by the Apollo Gallery, Dublin in 2003, resulted in an Omni award.

 

 
Landscapes of Inishowen

Exhibition by Andy McInroy
May 2008

The landscape of Inishowen was the subject of a photographic exhibition by Scottish-born photographer, Andy McInroy. Andy has spent the last eight years photographing the coastal landscapes of Inishowen to reveal the beauty and variety of scenery taken across the peninsula from the golden strand of Linsfort to the wild coast around Malin Head.  Andy’s first exhibition in Inishowen, “Landscapes of Inishowen”, was hosted and supported by Artlink.

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Edge Centring

Six Artists from Inishowen, Norway and East Iceland were invited by Artlink to participate in an International Residency at Inishowen 2007. The title of the residency and exhibition was “Edge Centring” and enabled artists to explore themes about “edges” in a geographical and cultural sense. All the artists created new work during the Residency, which was exhibited in the Edge Cenring exhibition 2007.

Edge Centring was realized by Artlink in co-operation with, and supported by the Cultural Councils of Eastern Iceland, Cultural Council of Vesteralen, Norway, and Donegal County Council. Fort Dunree Military Museum kindly made the site and facilities available to Artlink.

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Journeys

Exhibition by Joanna McGlynn

Joanna McGlynn is an Inishowen based artist, who completed a BA (Hons) degree from University of Ulster, Belfast. Joanna has traveled extensively throughout South East Asia and Australia and her experiences informed her artwork. Journeys was Joanna’s first solo exhibition, some of the work exhibited was made during her residency with Artlink in 2007.

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re.in.state - Emerging Inishowen Artists

Artlink curated re.in.state, an exhibition by three dynamic contemporary artists,participants as part of the Earagail Arts festival 2007.

Each of the artists and their artwork has a link to the Inishowen peninsula:

Maria McKinney created an installation exploring ideas of systems, space and perception, and a really intriguing use of a shopping trolley.

Joanna McGlynn created a series of photographic prints during a residency at Fort Dunree.

Jonny Bell created a series of photographic images based on a narrative connected to the abolitionist movement.

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