Opening programme includes:
– William Conor & L.S. Lowry: A People Observed
– Nicholas Keogh: A Removals Job
– Maria McKinney: Somewhere but here, another other place
– ARTIST ROOMS: Robert Therrien No Title (Table and Four Chairs)
– Eithne Jordan: Small Worlds
– Shipsides and Beggs Projects
Located at the heart of Belfast’s cultural Cathedral Quarter, the MAC is Northern Ireland’s brand new arts venue, which includes three stunning art galleries, including a closed control gallery within the impressive six-storey building.
Opening on 20th April, the MAC’s inaugural arts programme launches with a diverse selection of exhibitions, from newly commissioned works to monumental sculptures and a historic show. With free admission to the galleries seven days a week from 10am, the MAC encourages individuals, families, groups and communities to experience new world-class facilities and exhibitions right on their doorstep.
At the heart of the MAC’s opening season is ‘A People Observed’, an exhibition that brings together, for the first time, two of our most popular artists L.S. Lowry and Belfast-born William Conor, as part of the ‘Our Time, Our Place’ celebrations of Northern Ireland’s heritage and talent. The exhibition draws on Belfast’s industrial heritage and celebrates the labour which contributed to the historical significance of cities such as Belfast, Manchester and Salford. This exhibition sees Lowry’s work coming to Northern Ireland for the very first time. It will feature alongside contemporary artists exhibited in the MAC’s other two galleries including LA-based artist Robert Therrien, and local artists Nicholas Keogh and Maria McKinney.
Cassandra Needham, Curator, the MAC said: “We are delighted to open the MAC with such an eclectic mix of exhibitions. L.S. Lowry is one of the most popular British artists of the 20th century, renowned for his depictions of life in the industrial districts of Northern England. Lowry’s distinctive figures are ant-like against a backdrop of factory chimneys and imposing mills, whilst the works of William Conor are more overt celebrations of working-class life; his portrayals are warm depictions of city life in his native Ulster. Both artists were born and died within a few years of each other, and their works document, without parallel, the changing landscapes of their time and the people that populated them.
“Following the celebratory theme of labour is Belfast-based artist Nicholas Keogh, whose film A Removals Job (2012) is a major new commission by the MAC. A Removals Job honours the camaraderie of a group of workers as they physically demolish a traditional two-up two-down terrace house in Belfast. Cleared of furnishings and with personal effects violently cast aside, the group are initially erratic and destructive. As the film progresses the workers – both their bodies and the objects they carry – begin to move together in intricate unison. Keogh’s film is a passionate and humourous response to life as a manual labourer in Northern Ireland.”
Also in the MAC’s opening programme, a series of intricate installations by Dublin-based Maria McKinney explore the ideas of boredom and how best to escape it. McKinney has reconfigured an earlier work Somewhere but here, another other place (2010) for the MAC’s Sunken Gallery. Comprising second-hand domestic tables stacked to fill the gallery, the installation invites the visitor to physically explore the work, allowing it to develop as the installation unfolds.
McKinney’s installation complements and contrasts with the monumental sculptural work by Los Angeles-based Robert Therrien situated in the impressive Upper Gallery. Therrien’s work, which is part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection donated by Anthony D’Offay jointly to Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in 2008 with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, Therrien’s colossal is entitled No Title (Table and Four Chairs) 2003 would be a typical dining set except for the fact that it stands at nearly ten feet tall. Visitors are encouraged to walk in and around the imposing sculpture, which provokes memories of childhood and – much like McKinney’s installation – asks us to reassess our sense of scale and space.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: “Today’s programme launch adds another exciting layer of anticipation around the opening of the MAC and what will be a vibrant new space offering fabulous opportunities for people to participate in and enjoy the arts.”
Amy Dickson, Managing Curator, ARTIST ROOMS spokesperson, said:
“We are delighted that Robert Therrien’s No Title (Table and Four Chairs) from the ARTIST ROOMS collection will be part of the inaugural displays at the MAC. We are thrilled that this important work will be seen in Belfast by visitors to this new and important venue.”
Later in the season is an exhibition of new works by Belfast-based Shipsides and Beggs Projects, as well as the largest presentation of Eithne Jordan’s works on paper to be exhibited in Northern Ireland.
Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC commented: “The MAC will showcase the work of our extremely talented local artists alongside those of international reputation which we hope will appeal both to regular gallery goers and to those who are experiencing the visual arts for the very first time. There is something on offer for everyone in each of our three stunning galleries and we look forward to welcoming visitors when we open our doors in April.”
The inaugural visual art exhibitions are generously supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board.