7 April - 23 July
At The Table aims to challenge who is and isn’t invited to “the table” where decisions that determine our lives are made.
The exhibition showcases the work we have co-designed with our Associate Partners who work to combat some of society’s most pressing issues and inequalities – Alliance for Choice, Action Mental Health, The Rainbow Project, Extern and Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR). Our ethos is to reflect current approaches towards integrating collective activity and making community empowerment more visible in the art world.
A community table will cut through the length of the gallery acting as an invitation to actively participate in the programme - whilst also providing a space for social interaction and communal dining.
The core of the exhibition will contain works made through collaborations with our Associate Partners and socially engaged artists.
Multi-media production company Dumbworld is working in collaboration with Participation and the Practice of Rights, asylum seekers, mental health activists and people living in housing distress. Together Future Garden has been created and asks how the needs & rights of humans for shelter can coexist with our need to care for the planet we live on.
The former Mackies factory site in West Belfast, where an estimated 2,000 children live in housing stress, is to be developed as a greenway with no additional housing provision. Dumbworld & PPR are asking “Why can’t we have both housing & environmental protection?” Future Garden is the story of two gardens. The Mackies factory owner’s 12-acre private botanical garden at Helen’s Bay … and a Future Garden which does not exist yet. It is a speculative project of co-curation imagining a future garden for the Mackie's site in Belfast; the plants that could grow here & the ethics of care that could underpin it.
Sam's Eden is a new queer publication project by artist and curator Thomas Wells. The project looks at queer visibility in cultural spaces through workshops and exhibitions. This project commissioned by the MAC and in collaboration with The Rainbow Project, looked at access to a number of creative mediums such as dance, mark-making, performance, and architecture through a number of facilitated sessions. The content of which will be featured in the second issue of this publication.
Sam’s Eden is a project that aims to highlight contemporary queer practice and the intersectional relationships of queer experiences.
Mental Health Awareness
Northern Ireland has a mental health crisis. Department of Health statistics show a massive 25% higher overall prevalence of mental health problems in Northern Ireland than England. One-in-six young people have an eating disorder and one-in-ten deliberately self-harm. The Department recognises “the powerful contribution that arts and creativity can make to mental health”. During 2020, Action Mental Health became one of five Associate Partners of the MAC who work with us to address deep-rooted socio-economic issues that affect our communities. Participants from Action Mental Health, who have been attending weekly sessions at the MAC over the past 12 months, have undertaken an intense project in collaboration with visual artist Kerrie Hanna.
Collectively, Kerrie and the participants created illustrations which reflect on finding hope, creating community as an act of resistance, feelings of belonging - or lack thereof, and issues around living with and managing mental health diagnoses day to day. Participant lead discussions centred on the power of acknowledging there is no magic 'happy ending' in life - there is a daily commitment to showing up, to exploring inner worlds, and to the power of artistic expression to move us forward. Kerrie & participants will use these illustrations to co-design a series of posters which will be presented as a public billboard campaign in Belfast during Mental Health Awareness week from 9 May 2023 for 2 weeks. Copies of the group's poster designs will be on display in the gallery from mid-April.
Lift the Ban 8 June - 23 July
Syrian artist, and founder of Berlin-based coculture e.V. Khaled Barakeh is addressing the rights of people seeking asylum in Northern Ireland. Supporting Participation and the Practice of Rights Lift the Ban campaign which promotes the right for asylum seeking people to work. This right is currently denied. People who have fled conflict zones for safety are currently living on £9.11 per week in temporary housing unable to provide for themselves and their families. Khaled is collaborating with asylum seekers who are artists, doctors and consultants, and human rights activists to raise awareness of this issue. As part of this commission, we will host events At the Table which seek to expose current inequalities.
On Monday 12 June, Weaving the present, shaping the future took place At The Table. A series of work created with Khaled in collaboration with people seeking asylum in NI will remain in the gallery during Refugee Awareness Week (19 - 25 June) and until At the Table ends on 23 July.
There are two sets of images:
Images generated through AI from people’s lived experience of fleeing their home country for safety.
11 images of our collaborators who redesigned and reimagined 2nd hand clothes they were given when they arrived in NI seeking safety. Each person is photographed wearing their redesigned clothes, in a local location of their choice. The redesigned clothes have enabled those caught in the asylum system to reclaim their confidence and seek respect.
The gallery will change and expand as gallery visitors and communities respond to the space, and the artworks.
Documenta 15 curated by ruangrupa, the Jakarta-based artists’ collective presented an artistic and economic model rooted in principles such as collectively, communal resource sharing, and equal allocation. These concerns have influenced our thinking in presenting this exhibition.
Commissions also include artist and signpainter Laura Nelson who painted Shirley Chisholm’s quote “If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”, and artist Duncan Ross who has created a large illustration of information taken from the MAC’s evaluation written by Gauge. Both can be seen throughout the exhibition from 7 April - 23 July.
Special thanks to the artists,
activists, and people who have collaborated with us to realise At the Table
Raja Obed, Rachel Fitzpatrick,
Kerrie Hanna, Elaine Taylor, Lauren Cudden, Mayte Ruiz Cala, Yusrah, Jane,
Siobhan, Rory Doherty, Lucy Rafferty, John McIlduff, Thomas Wells, Khaled
Barakeh, Laura Nelson, Darren Ferguson, Aaron Rhodes, Ajax (Evan) Gaston, Ann Davison, Annemarie Zambotti, Caroline Boyle, Catherine Pritchard, Charlie Beare, Darlene Corry, Deirdre McPoland, Doris Gentemann, Ezra Pinkerton, Hannah Johnston, Heather Fleming, Hilary McCollum, Huseini Samire, Jesper Pouw, Karolyn Gaston, Lu Blue, Maoilíosa Scott, Matin Sharafi, Mícheál Ó Ruairc, Miles Greer, Minne Thomas, Mukwaya Ahamed Ali, Richard O’Leary, Saarla White, Ella Kelly, Lorraine Pollock, Audrius Geležiūnas, Beth Welch, Grace McMurray, Janie Doherty, Emma Brennan, Dean Black, Clodagh Lavelle, Colm McCreedy, Fergus Wachala-Kelly, Miles Greer, Leah Greer, George Wallace ,Sara Pereira, Arjen Ploeger, Emer McGuckian, Masella Cassidy, Gerard McGrillen, Ann Davison, John Barr, Soso [Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh], Fionn Dempsey, Hannah McShane, João Flipe Jesus, Nurtane Karagil, Manuela Moser, Stephen Connolly, Anthony Ferguson, Dean Lee, Elaine Forde, Katie Watchorn, Padraig Regan, Dominic McKeown, Husk Bennett, Silvia Koistinen, Janie Doherty, Peter McKenna, Finn Paul, Jane Peaker, Leah Corbett, Rob McGilcuddy
Associate Partners: Participation and the Practice of Rights, Alliance for Choice, The Rainbow Project, Action Mental Health, and Extern
Partners and Collaborators: Beyond Skin, Anann’s Arch, Still I Rise Diversity Storytelling, Ulster University, and Gauge
Funders: PHF, Bank of Ireland, Cultural Bridge, Community Foundation Northern Ireland and Social Change Initiative