7 April - 13 August 2023
Two new exhibitions across our Tall and Sunken Galleries: Louise Wallace: Midnight Feast & Sharon Kelly: Red-to-Red
7 April - 2 July 2023
One new exhibition in our Upper Gallery: At The Table
Click Book Now to pre-book your ticket for all exhibitions
Louise Wallace: Midnight Feast
Louise Wallace produces work that is deliberately provocative, utilising a palette of lush colour to create images that draw on abstraction and Surrealism to transform the suburban into scenes that hover between the familiar and the uncanny.
Midnight Feast is a new body of work which looks at desire, excess and the feminine. Wallace explores a landscape made of body parts, fruit and animated shrubs, populated by monstrous bird feeders, bizarre garden ornaments and spectral visions. The paintings are a series of nocturnes, loosely based on the gardens of Lenadoon and Glengoland housing estates in West Belfast.
Wallace has distorted these night scenes in a playful, provocative manner to subvert traditional Irish landscape painting and the problematic conflation of the feminine and the land. Midnight Feast depicts a contemporary Northern Imaginary – a reading of place and identity that encompasses laughter, fluidity and non-sense. The exhibition’s title suggests excessive or forbidden behaviour – in the world of adults, a midnight feast could be Bacchanalian.
The exhibition positions painting as a field of enquiry rather than a medium-specific condition. A febrile sense of colour is instrumental to holding relationships across media and into the gallery space. Wallace’s painting practice is reimagined across drawing, collage and three-dimensional objects.
The wall piece, Fabulous Birds is an exploration of colour and form using found and fabricated objects, the whole operating as a three-dimensional collage. The bird-like forms also relate to the gardens and bird feeders in the paintings. The works on paper plot a trippy landscape, full of reclining odalesques and dancing trees.
Wallace’s practice is improvisational; one move generates the next whether the medium is painting, drawing or assemblages. The exhibition installation is an extension of Wallace’s studio where she displays a range of objects and manipulates them to extend the compositional space of painting.
Sharon Kelly: Red-to-Red
The work in this exhibition has been developed over the period of the artist's ACNI Fellowship at the British School at Rome. Kelly originally commenced the residency in January 2020, but this was interrupted by the pandemic. She returned January - March 2023 to complete the Fellowship.
Kelly has taken markers from her observances and encounters from her time in Rome and created work, externally affirmative and universally connective in nature.
Kelly often concentrates on focused bodies of work developed over time in a symbiotic process combining observation, awareness of the body and drawing on experience, feeling and intuition.
Her sensibility to the body and in particular the fragmented body, the torso and broken gesture featured strongly in works created in response to her original residency period and in the intervening three years. With its generative force emanating from personal encounters with severe illness and its aftermath, her work also embraced ideas of liminality and transformation.
In this current work, the colour red has developed as multi-charged, with multi-layered resonances; the residue of a staunched wound; the symbol of blood, the universal force and flow of life; the symbol of bloodshed, sacrifice, often seen in religious depictions.
A marker for warning or impending danger. Red is the colour symbolising authority, or status; generals in the days of the Roman Empire had their bodies painted red to celebrate victory. Red was also the colour of protective amulets. Red may indicate energy, vibrancy - the longest-lasting and most dominant of the colours of the Etruscan fresco wall-paintings. These red figurative images, fragmented over time, depict life, death, and the transitional space.
At The Table
At The Table brings socially and politically engaged practices into our core gallery programming. It is our first major exhibition developed from MACtivate - the work we do with our five Associate Partners which speaks to some of the most pressing and challenging issues in our society including mental ill health, LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive rights, housing injustice and the rights of people seeking asylum. This exhibition has been codesigned with people and communities connected to our Associate Partners - The Rainbow Project, Participation and the Practice of Rights, Alliance for Choice, Action Mental Health and Extern.
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. 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.
Working in collaboration with Participation and the Practice of Rights, asylum seekers, mental health activists and people living in housing distress, multi-media production company Dumbworld will juxtapose the opulent beauty of a 12-acre garden with a brownfield, wasteland, industrial inner-city site which is located in an area of housing need where 2000 children are living in housing distress.
Sam's Eden two 'Sensory Overload'
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 Sam's Eden two 'Sensory Overload', 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. The project started in 2020 as an exhibition in printed matter as a result of Covid 19. This is the first physical show of the project working with one of the original contributors.
Sam’s Eden refers to the hidden histories of the queer community, and how often these histories are erased or hidden from normative record. All of the issues create an artifact forming a record or archive.
Thomas Wells is an artist and curator based in Belfast. Their work is based in socially engaged practice involving spaces of collective experience. These are often situated in the intimacy of domestic settings and use layered imagery to elicit feelings of nostalgia. Originally from Manchester, they have been working in the north of Ireland since 2017. They are a member of the 2021 Turner Prize winning collective Array, Jerwood Curatorial Fellow 2022/23, and former Catalyst Arts Co-director.
Participants from Action Mental Health, in collaboration with visual artist Kerrie Hanna have created an artwork which will be presented on billboards throughout Belfast during At the Table. Kerrie and the participants will co-facilitate workshops for the public which explore the mental health through creativity.
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 Khaled is collaborating with migrants, and human rights activists to raise awareness of the hostile environment people are forced to live in. As part of this commission, we will host events At the Table which seek to explore expose the issue.
Public events will include, but are not limited to:
Creative Dialogues & Campaigning Events: With politicians/policy makers exploring asylum seekers rights, and the mental health crisis.
A library containing reading material and policy documents will highlight the issues being addressed through At the Table.
Weekly workshops: Imagining what a kinder economy looks like.
Monthly communal dining: Bringing asylum seekers, refugees, and local people together to encourage greater integration.
A children’s playroom with a table to imagine a fair and equal society, alongside a Compassion Library for children with sessions addressing housing justice, migration, home, mental health, activism, diversity, gender and identity. We have commissioned the children from St Pauls Primary School and Fane Street Primary School to create portraits of activists and leaders who like Shirley Chisholm, led the way.
The ethos of MACtivate reflects current approaches towards integrating collective activity and community empowerment more visible in the art world.
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.
Special thanks to the artists, activists, and people who have collaborated with us to realise At the Table including:
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: PPR, AfC, TRP, AMH & Extern
Partners and Collaborators: Beyond Skin, Anann’s Arch, Still I Rise Diversity Storytelling, Ulster University, Gauge
Funders: PHF, Bank of Ireland, Cultural Bridge, Community Foundation Northern Ireland and Social Change Initiative
About the Artists
About the Artists
Louise Wallace (b. 1970, Belfast) is a painter, writer and educator. She was shortlisted for the BEEP Painting Prize (2022) and longlisted for the John Moore’s Painting Prize (2020). She is the recipient of several bursaries and Arts Council awards, most recently receiving SIAP funding (2022). She has exhibited her paintings nationally and internationally including the SoHo20 gallery (New York), Siemens Art Space (Beijing), RUA Red (Dublin) and the Fenderesky gallery (Belfast). Her work is in several private and public collections including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Ulster University and the Boyle Civic Collection, Sligo. Wallace co-curated and exhibited in ‘Penumbra’, a survey of contemporary Irish female painting at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery (2020). Her essay ‘Who Killed Marthe Bonnard? Madness, Morbidity and Pierre Bonnard’s “The Bath”’ was published in the Journal of Contemporary Painting (2018) and she was an invited speaker on the work of painter Mary Swanzy at IMMA, Dublin (2018). She is co-curator of the retrospective ‘Catherine McWilliams 1961 – 2021’ at the F.E. McWilliam gallery (2023) and the author of ‘Hope is Something Rooted – the work of Catherine McWilliams’ in the Irish Arts Review, Spring 2023. Paintings from her latest Midnight Feast series are included in the British Council journal ‘Difficult Conversations’ (2023). Wallace completed her PhD in 2005 at Belfast School of Art where she currently works as a lecturer in painting.
Sharon Kelly lives and works between her studio in QSS, Belfast and South Armagh. She gained a Master’s in Fine Art from the University of Ulster in 1989. Kelly’s practice takes the intersections between art, life, health and sport, and explores ideas of the synergy between mind and body. Her work encompasses a variety of media including drawing, installation, sculpture and moving image. She has collaborated with poets, writers, dancers and choreographers and in 2017 created set designs for Landscapes of Loss a multimedia dance production, for Maiden Voyage Dance.
In 2022 she was the recipient of The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, USA and in 2020 she commenced the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellowship at The British School at Rome, which she finally completed early 2023. She has been the recipient of numerous Visual Arts Awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, most recently the Artists International Development Fund to participate in a printmaking residency at Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium later in 2023; The Rowel Friers Perpetual Trophy, Royal Ulster Academy of Art; The Drawing Prize 132nd Royal Academy Exhibition, 2013; The Bass Ireland Award 2001; British Council Award 1999; EV+A Open Award, Adjudicator, Jan Hoet, Belgium 1994; First Prize, ‘Siolru’, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin 1994; Alice Berger-Hammerschlag Trust Travel Award 1991; The Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation, Canada 1990.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in public and private collections in Northern Ireland and further afield.
How to Book
Booking your gallery visit
Click the green Book Now button above and select the date you wish to visit our galleries. This will give you access to all three galleries any time on your chosen date between 11am and 5pm.
Our exhibitions are free to visit, but you can choose to make a donation of £5 during checkout. We're very grateful to those who give financially towards our work – your donations truly make a difference.
Once your booking is confirmed, we will send you a confirmation email, and the day before your visit, we’ll also send an email with some helpful information for your visit.
On the day of your visit
Make your way to our galleries. The Sunken Gallery is on the ground floor. The Tall Gallery is on the 3rd floor. The Upper Gallery is on the 4th floor. If you have any queries our Box Office is on the ground floor where our team will be happy to answer your questions and give you more information about the exhibitions.
For more information to help prepare you for a visit to the MAC, check out our FAQs page.
Our gallery programming is proudly supported by Gilbert-Ash