New Exits: 10 Years of Painting Shows Opens on 9 Dec 2022

Curated by Dougal McKenzie & Hugh Mulholland

To mark the end of our 10th anniversary celebratory year, the MAC will present a major exhibition of new painting.

We are delighted to announce that the following artists, all graduates of the nearby Ulster University, have been selected to participate in New Exits: 10 Years of Painting Shows.

Juste Bernotaite - Hannah Casey-Brogan - Megan Burns - Daniel Coleman - Patrick Hickey - Aimee Melaugh - Tim Millen - Jane Rainey - Yasmine Robinson - Cameron Stewart - Kwok Tsui

Set within the context of the many significant painting exhibitions that the MAC has presented since its inception, New Exits is an opportunity to celebrate the painting practices that have emerged and flourished through the work of graduates of the BA and MFA Fine Art courses at Belfast School of Art since 2012 – the same year the MAC opened its doors.

With art theorists and curators appearing to have fallen in love with painting again, it seems that painters have re-asserted their relevance within our increasingly image saturated society.

Creative Director of Visual Arts, Hugh Mulholland, said: "This exhibition represents an important opportunity to survey the strength of painting practice among a select number of artists who have progressed through Belfast College of Art in the last decade and have gone on to establish careers as contemporary painters. The work demonstrates a myriad of approaches from abstraction, figuration, narrative painting and extended painting practices. Our aim is to profile the wealth and quality of current painting practices here to local and international visitors and to stimulate a conversation about painting generally".

Using artist and writer Thomas Lawson’s seminal 1981 Artforum essay, Last Exit: Painting, as an important touchstone for the exhibition, it could be said that the intervening 40 years have seen a constant ebb and flow in painting’s popularity and relevance, with the tide firmly back in its favour. The exhibition acknowledges the close relationship and interdependencies of the Belfast School of Art and the MAC and how our proximity to each other has informed our work and contributed to our understanding of what it means to be a contemporary painter today.

The exhibition fills all three of the MAC galleries. The MAC’s Sunken Gallery on the ground floor will become a space for conversation around painting with a rolling programme of talks, screenings and workshops exploring why painters and audiences continue to love this form of art.

For more details on the exhibition and to book tickets, visit

About the Artists:

Juste Bernotaite was born in Klaipeda, Lithuania, 1999 and is based in Belfast. Bernotaite gained First Class Honours in Fine Art Painting BA Hons, Ulster University, Belfast, 2021 where she was also Associate Fellowship (AFHEA), Ulster University, Belfast 2021-22. Recent selected group exhibitions have included; ArtsFest, Arts for All, Belfast, 2022, Past, Present, Future, King's House, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, 2022, Summer Show, The Engine Room Gallery, Belfast, 2022, Ulster University Degree Show, Belfast, 2022, Selection of Gallery Artists, The Engine Room Gallery, Belfast, 2022, Inception, Arts for All, Belfast, 2022, Emergence V, Queen Street Studios, Belfast, 2022, Portrait of Northern Ireland, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, 2021.

She has received the following awards Jordan Mills Memorial Prize for Landscape Painting and The Engine Room Gallery Award. Her work is held in private and public collections in Ireland and UK including Ulster University Permanent Collection.

Megan Burns (b 1991) is a painter based in Belfast who gained a BA in Fine Art from Carmarthen School of Art, Wales (2014), then returned home to gain an MA in Fine Art (2016) from Belfast School of Art. Since then, she has had 2 solo shows and exhibited work in a number of group shows across the UK and Ireland. She was longlisted for the 2017 Starpoint Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 RDS Visual Arts Award, as well as the 2019 Hennessy Craig Award. Burns’ work was most recently on show at the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, as part of GENERATION 2022: New Irish Painting.

Hannah Casey-Brogan is an Irish painter. She holds a First-Class Honours degree in Fine Art (2007) in addition to two Masters degrees in Embroidery (2009) and Painting (2015) from the Belfast School of Art. Casey-Brogan has exhibited her work throughout the UK and Ireland, and has also shown internationally in Berlin, Paris, New York, Reykjavik, and Kofu City, Japan. She has received awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and The British Council to travel on international artist residencies to countries including Iceland and Japan. In 2014 she received The Alice Berger Hammerschlag Award and was nominated for New Sensations 2014 at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Daniel Coleman is a Visual Artist from County Armagh in the North of Ireland. He graduated with a First Class Honours in Fine Art (Painting) from the Belfast School of Art (2016). Selected group exhibitions include, ‘190th & 189th RHA Annual Exhibition’ RHA Dublin (2020 & 2019), ‘PeripheriesOPEN’ Periphery Space Gorey School of Art Wexford (2018), ‘Adˈvɑːnst’ Crescent Arts Centre Belfast (2017), ‘Very Good Waves Now’ Catalyst Arts Belfast (2016) and a solo exhibition, ‘All That Remains’ at The Braid, Ballymena (2016). Daniel Coleman is a member of ‘The Drawing Journal’ (2018-present) a collaborative drawing and text project. Recent shows with this group include, ‘Image of Thought’, Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Belfast (2020-2021) and an upcoming show with Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards (2021). Daniel Coleman is the recent recipient of the RHA/ Áras Éanna Residency Award, Inis Oírr, Co. Galway (2021).

Patrick Hickey is a contemporary queer artist, living and working in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hickey graduated from the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University, in 2015, with a BA in Fine Art (Painting). In 2019, Hickey began a practice-based PhD at Ulster University, which focuses on homoeroticism and queer coding in modern and contemporary painting, with a focus on 20th Century Irish artist Gerard Dillon. He has exhibited extensively in both solo and group shows, with two upcoming solo shows in Belfast; June 2022 and January 2023. Hickey has also received several awards and grants from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the University of Atypical.

Aimee Melaugh is a painter based in Derry. She graduated with a First Class BA Honours Degree in Fine Art Painting in 2018 from the Belfast School of Art. Melaugh was recently shortlisted for the Robert Walter’s UK New Artist of the Year Award in collaboration with Saatchi Gallery in London and had her work exhibited at Saatchi Gallery in 2021. Melaugh has had a solo exhibition at The Glassworks, Derry, supported by the Arts Council Northern Ireland. She has recently completed an artist residency with Art Arcadia in 2021 and had a solo exhibition at St Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse in Derry. Melaugh has also exhibited at Platform Arts Belfast, PS2 and the ArtisAnn Gallery Belfast. Recognitions include the Belfast Print Workshop Residency Award and the Royal Ulster Academy Award. Her work is included in public collections including Ulster University , The Arts Council Northern Ireland’s permanent collection and the Northern Ireland Civil Service Art collection, as well as various private collections.

Tim Millen graduated with an MA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster having completed a BA Painting at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin (1999). His most recent solo exhibition was ‘Future Present’ at The Ulster University Gallery, Belfast (2019). He has exhibited in numerous group and curated exhibitions across Ireland and UK and was selected for the last two BEEP Painting Biennials, Elysium Gallery, Swansea (2020 & 2022). He has received several arts awards including Freelands Foundation Funding (2020), the Hennessy Craig Scholarship, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2009) and numerous Arts Council of Northern Ireland Awards. His work is also included in several public art collections including the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, Limerick University and the Arts Council NI.

Jane Rainey (b.1992) is a painter based in Belfast. Rainey has shown work across Ireland. Solo shows include 'Lunar Tides' at the Molesworth Gallery (2022) and 'The Horizon is never still' at the Molesworth Gallery (2019), while recent group shows include the Hennessy Craig Exhibition in 2022, 'Generation 2022, New Irish Painting' at the Butler Gallery, ‘Futures Series 3, Episode One’ at the RHA (2017), and ‘Headless Cities’, TULCA, Galway (2016). Recent awards include a scholarship awarded by NCAD for a Masters in Fine Art (2014), and the John and Rachel Turner Bursary Award, from Ulster University (2014). Rainey was also shortlisted for the 2019 Merrion Plinth Award and the 2022 Hennessy Craig Award. Recent commissions include an installation for Meta Open Arts, Dublin (2022) and 'Project Art' Chapter One, Dublin (2017).

Yasmine Robinson (b, 1994, Derry, N. Ireland), currently based in Belfast, is a lecturer in Fine Art, Foundation Studies at Belfast School of Art, Ulster University and holds a studio at QQS . Robinson was awarded a Distinction in her Master of Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art, London (2018), having previously studied BA Fine Art, graduating with a First-Class Honours at Ulster University, Belfast (2017). Robinson has been the recipient of awards including Tiffany & Co. Outset Studio Makers Prize, London (2018) and RDS Visual Arts Award, Dublin (2017). In 2017 she was awarded the Frank Bowling Scholarship to support her studies at Chelsea College of Art. Recent projects and exhibitions include Zabludowicz Master-Class (2022), Mutation Station at imlabor, Tokyo, Japan (2020), Penumbra, F.E Mc William Gallery, Belfast (2021), Absinthe, Collective Ending, London (2019), Young Gods, Charlie Smith Gallery, London, (2019)

Cameron Stewart (b. 1996, Craigavon, Northern Ireland) is a painter based in Belfast, he is a current studio member and Director of Arcade Studios Belfast. In 2019, Stewart graduated with First Class Honours in Fine Art (Specialising in Painting) from Ulster University. Stewart paintings are held in both private and public collections including Ulster University’s permanent collection. Since graduating Stewart has taken part in multiple group exhibitions; notably a three person show at Platform Arts in 2020 titled, ‘When it Rains it Pours’. In 2021 Stewart helped co-found Arcade Studios Belfast; an artist led studio group and gallery space in the centre of Belfast.

Kwok Tsui (b.1989, China) lives and works in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He graduated with a BA from Belfast School of Art in 2020. Recent exhibitions include ‘BA and MFA Fine Art Graduate Show’ at The MAC (2020), ‘Portrait of Northern Ireland: Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto’ at Golden Thread Gallery (2021), ‘Emergence IV’ and ‘Future/Forward’ at QSS Gallery & Studios (2021/2022) - which was also on show at MART Gallery & Studios, Dublin. His latest exhibition ‘Lands In-between’ is a two-person exhibition with photographer Ben Malcolmson at QSS Gallery & Studios (2022), which includes an essay by acclaimed poet Padraig Regan.

About the Curators

Dougal McKenzie (b. 1968, Edinburgh) has been a Lecturer in Painting at Belfast School of Art since 2011 and is currently course director of the BA Fine Art programme. Following his undergraduate studies at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, in 1990 he gained a place on the MA Fine Art course at the then University of Ulster at Belfast. He was amongst the first directors of Catalyst Arts at Exchange Place and in 1995 curated ‘Subterraneans’, a group show of new Northern Irish painting. In 1996 he took up the post of Lecturer in Painting at Limerick School of Art and Design, returning to Northern Ireland in 2004 to lead the Foundation Studies course at Southern Regional College Newry. In 2007 he curated ‘The Double Image’ (as part of the Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art series) at The Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, which considered the interfaces of painting and photography practices here. He has been a shortlisted prize-winner at the John Moores 23 Exhibition Liverpool in 2004, and was again selected for the 2012 exhibition. In 2013 he showed with David Crone and Mark McGreevy in ‘Between Two Worlds’ at the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio, and was also selected for the MAC International in 2014. His solo exhibition ‘A Dream and an Argument’ took place at the MAC in 2017, and ‘More Bad News’ was his most recent solo show, at The Golden Thread Gallery Project Space in 2020. He has been a member of QSS, Orchid and PSSquared in Belfast, and currently works from his studio in Banbridge.

Hugh Mulholland is Creative Director, Visual Arts at the MAC, Belfast a position he has held since 2012. He was previously Director, the third space gallery, Belfast (2006-2012) and Director of Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (1997-2006) and was founding Director of Context Gallery Derry, (now CCA) (1992-1997).

Mulholland has also worked as an independent curator and was Commissioner of Northern Ireland’s first presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2005 with a group exhibition titled ‘The Nature of Things’, he also curated Northern Ireland’s following exhibition at the Biennale in 2007 with a solo show of work by Willie Doherty. He was curator for Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2006 & 2007 as well as curating exhibitions internationally in Berlin, Istanbul and Italy.

Since opening in 2012 the MAC has presented significant painting shows by national and international artists including; Roxy Walsh, Peter Doig, Ambera Wellman, Paddy McCann, Eithne Jordan, Ronnie Hughes, Richard Gorman, L.S Lowry, William Conor, Susan Connelly, Mark McGreevy, Dougal McKenzie, Carol Rhodes, David Hockney and Adrian Ghenie.