The importance of your first solo exhibition being properly supported has a worth that goes beyond mere monetary value.
Euan Gébler’s debut show, ‘Disturbances’. was the recipient of the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiach student graduate award in 2021 which allowed him to ponder on the unearthing, upheaval and disturbing of landscapes formed over time.
With an eye for – and an interest in – natural spaces invaded by humankind (notably quarries), Euan has used the gallery space to link the dust we return to and the unearthing of our lives as time goes on. The window is majestically filled with a concrete, almost pool-like sculpture, rings set in the concrete terraced in the form of a person lying, echoing the rings on a tree which show its age. It lies as if discovered like a fossil in a quarry.
In fact, this piece would not look out of place in a public sculpture park. Photographs support the exhibition theme.
Upstairs. Lucy Moyes' 'Carborundum' fine art prints literally sparkle. The sparkle comes from the skilled process she uses. Carborundum is a mineral used to create gradients of tone and a sandy texture in printmaking. Lucy tries to capture a lucid, dreamlike quality in her prints and the depth and interest your eye discovers on coming across them is quite joyful.
An Chultúrlann is one of the few Galleries in the city that is open every day and the exhibitions run until the 9 June.
Artist's talks are always interesting and, sitting in the Ulster Museum listening to Peter Meanley, I identified with his ability to find inspiration everywhere.
His fifty years of experience in ceramics came by chance, as he said he always wanted to be a painter. The need for creative minds to solve problems and deal with issues of their choice was highlighted repeatedly. When he thought what a terrible waste some young people breaking up a snooker cue was, he brought the pieces to home to use as a base. He covered the wood with a little olive oil then clay to make an incredibly long teapot spout that defied gravity.
The humble toilet duck, celery sticks, saw handles, vegetable cutters – all have provided inspiration for his different ceramic obsessions. In his exhibition of new works at Craft NI, he has made a ceramic sculpture of Neil Shawcross. It was interesting to hear the real story behind his G8 Toby jugs for the summit in Fermanagh.
On hearing the world leaders of the time would be coming, by decree of David Cameron, Peter decided the six months he had before they came was just enough time for him to make all the leaders' likenesses as Toby jugs.
His idea was that they could be on the table where they were to meet and as they entered the room the ice would be broken with the world leaders as they said: "That doesn’t look like me, but it’s a good likeness of you." A creative way to start a summit. He had no idea how he would make this happen. However, Lady Sylvia Herman, his then MP, got wind of it and went to see him. She took a photograph of the jugs with her to Westminster.
Showing it to David Cameron she asked him what he was going to do about it. The wheels of politics moved slowly, but eventually she got word back that they would indeed get to the summit.
The Ulster Museum exhibited them first and then Peter got a governmental phone call to tell him to buy bubble wrap – they were going to send them all to the embassies of the respective countries. However, he refused, holding on to his artistic intent of having the pieces at the summit. The idea got blocked. He suspects because it was an independent action.
The leaders got a bog oak pen, a bag of Fermanagh potatoes and a picture frame instead. After being on display for a year he took them back and they were eventually bought by an independent collector of Toby jugs.
Peter Meanley’s exhibition continues at Craft NI, 115-119 Royal Avenue until June 11. Craft NI have a call out for individuals and organisations to be considered for August Craft Month. Details on their website.
Belfast Photo Festival, now an annual event, is billing itself as the largest annual festival of international photography in the UK and Ireland and starts Thursday, June 2. It's also during Late Night Art, when all the city’s galleries are open late. As it is a very long bank holiday weekend and not a school night, why not come and join in?
There are some out-of-town artists in the city ready to share their perspective with whoever might like to listen. There is a plethora of artists' talks on the Friday with Thomas Albdorf in the Belfast Exposed gallery and Alexandra Lethbridge at the Golden Thread gallery exploring the exclusion of women from historical narratives. The exhibitions being installed in Botanic Gardens currently will be ready to view on June 3, likewise City Quay and Donegall Quay. The curator’s talks are always interesting and give you a chance to tap into the knowledge of the people who put the festival together.
The dates of Belfast School of Art degree shows have been announced and are running longer than usual – from June 6 to 18 – and to facilitate a flow of people in a safe way there is a booking system. If you have a group or school interested in attending, email the university. Otherwise book on Eventbrite.
Finally, If you didn’t get to Coventry and want to see the Belfast Array Collective's Turner Prize-winning The Druithaib’s Ball submission, it has been purchased by National Museums Northern Ireland and is set to go on display at the Ulster Museum in January 2023.