Making something small happen

art of the everyday

Category: Art

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast: Proposal

IMG_1892proposal for The Lyric

I was invited as part of a team to propose a public work for the Lyric. I explored the unusual architecture of the Lyric and its similarities to some church buildings in Northern Ireland. The idea of theatre as spiritual building and what external signage could be used to explore the discussions going on within the building.

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January Blues

How to distribute leaflets like mine amidst what seem like endless flag protests?

I have often been asked what I am doing but never have I felt the backdrop of my work as charged as it is now. During the exhibition in PS2 the flag protests began and even in the relative shelter of the gallery the juxtaposition felt very strange to me.

I have decided to take a break from distributing the tracts for a time and spend this time developing their content further.

Fellowship of the Faithless

Prayers for secular people.

Since starting this project I have had several moments of doubt when I find myself thinking the support of a higher purpose that is recognised by many others would be a lovely comfort. There are many artists working in Belfast but art does not always lend itself to communal activities in the same way religion does.

I was thinking of a prayer circle and the comfort of knowing others have you in their thoughts, how could this work for a secular group – is there any desire for this? For those of you that have read along with the project you will be aware that I am borrowing the things I miss since leaving church and religion and testing how they function without their foundation of religious belief.

I was discussing today with a friend about Mandalas and how she is using them for an art project. I am slowly thinking around how what we borrow is changed and how art is changed by this borrowing.

Artists Testiomonies at Fellowship of the Faithless.

Saturday 8th December

exhibition from 10-2

event 2-4

I arrived a little late and in a panic, I was up late baking for the Artists Testimonies event. I lophotove to bake for events as I think it gives them a more relaxed atmosphere and a starting point for conversation for those who don’t already know each other. Spending time in the empty gallery space is quite peaceful so soon I am calmly making final plans for the event.

Artists testimonies is an event asking artists to share why they believe in art – not a presentation of their own work but the motivation behind why they make work and the potential they think art has. The idea came from attending several highly polished presentations of people’s work, they were great at showing a professional body of work but I felt that the art language and Powerpoint style is quite off-putting.I put out a call for 10 artists and 10 audience members for the event and a discussion afterwards. The event was not recorded in any way. It is very important to me that it was not disrupted with photos or video and that each person that attended holds the evidence of the event. This of course is problematic for funding applications and blog posts as there is little to share.

I hope to host this event again so if you live in Belfast and are interested leave a comment!

Fellowship of the Faithless – losing my religion?

Friday 7th 11-3 pm

SONY DSCWhen setting the show up I wanted the chairs to be in strict straight lines with slightly awkward closeness to each other. This helps to give the feeling I had when attending church. The idea that no one is a stranger when you share a faith – that these people are your family is tested when you are on uncomfortable chairs and a little too close to one another.

I arrived to set up for the day and it was evident that those attending the opening had felt the chairs were too close also, as they had spread from their original places. The floor was covered in crumbs and as I set about hoovering and rearranging things I was aware of being watched from outside. It raises the question that I often find with this gallery – what is part of the show and what is not. I have chosen to leave the windows uncovered so people can pass by and look in – you could see the carpet being laid the space wallpapered and things taking shape. Equally the taking down of the show will be visible.

No one visited the show today and again I found myself wondering how this would feel if I was urgently trying to spread my beliefs and was sure that without hearing my message people could be lost. What message do I want to share? Is my proposal to have faith in art an empty promise as I do not offer salvation? I prefer to invigilate my own work as I enjoy hearing feedback as people experience the show but when you sit alone for 4 hours you do begin to question your work and its importance beyond your own need to make it.

 

Fellowship of the Faithless – the opening night.

A few thoughts on the opening night.

The first visitors whispered and skirted round the chairs not knowing whether to sit or not wanting to. I offered tea and biscuits to each person that entered the show and I think the lack of alcohol really changed the tone of opening. The first expectation of free wine and beer was removed so what expectations replaced them?

Around 8 or so the show became quite busy (I had around 60 attend the opening night) The chairs filled up and the expectation was that I would do something/ preach something/present something. I did not, nor did I explain that I was not going to. I just passed around biscuits and chatted with those that were there. The space felt like a church without a leader and without a leader people soon began to share their negative experiences of being in church, of being told they would go to hell and of homophobic rants. At this point something unexpected happened. I started to become very defensive. Is there such a thing as playing God’s Advocate?

I am still connected to my old faith in a way I had not been forced to publicly recognise until now.

Lots to contemplate tomorrow.

Fellowship of the Faithless – Day 2

SONY DSC

Opening Hours 11-3 and 6-9

Tonight is the official opening which brings with it a nervous excitement. During the 11-3 hours 8 people visited, 4 of which were students from the foundation course at the Art college I attended. They didn’t ask any questions but seemed bewildered and assumed there must be more work somewhere else.

As I mentioned yesterday most people have some previous experience of church going or religion that they bring to the exhibition, A visitor today said for him the room had an appearance of standoffishness and that it smelled like a funeral home. His father had run a funeral home and the smell he remembered was fresh paint and new carpets – the upkeep of the space. The authenticity of the space was important to me – the chairs were borrowed from a church hall as was the kettle boiler. The choice of wallpaper and carpet are directly borrowed from my experience of attending a small evangelical church as a child and from memories of a youth group that as held in the house of a friend of my sister.

The show looks like a place of worship which was my intention and I think there are many parallels between the art audience and the congregation but there are some obvious differences. It is the similarities and differences I hope to discuss with people during the exhibition.

Fellowship of the Faithless – Day 1.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

Opening hours 11-3

I had 5 visitors today which was a lovely number, the space is lovely to spend time in if a little cold but I wonder what I would feel like if I were a minister and had dedicated my life to religion to only have 5 people to share with. As this is art not religion I expected to have little interaction from outside but spending time in a church-like space does sort of force contemplation.

In Northern Ireland most people have previous experience of religion and it is this that  allows each person to bring a different context to the show. One visitor said if felt just like a wake, not that it was depressing but that it made him nervous.

Lastly, in understanding that many passersby would think the show was a religious space I am interested in my place within that. What expectations do we hold for people who are openly religious? What expectations do I hold for myself? I am interested in the crossover between what is “good” in secular society and religious society. As my thoughts are wondering I notice a woman selling the big issue outside the window, I am inside warm and dry and have been making tea or coffee for those who come in to see the show. I feel that I should offer her a hot drink – put these thoughts about what is good into practice. I offer her tea which she gladly accepts and when I take out the cup with the milk she requested she responds with “God bless you and your family”

Fellowship of the Faithless

exhibitionSet up of my solo show December 2012.

I will be adding thoughts and some more images from the shows duration.

Please feel free to comment or ask for further details.

 

Artists Testimonies

Belmont Tower, Belfast

19th May

2-4

In the same venue as my last event, a singing workshop, I set up for something a little different. The room has large triptych windows on both sides and in the centre I arranged 12 chairs in a circle. These would soon be filled with 6 people sharing their testimonies, their chosen witnesses and a film maker to document the event.

I introduced my work explaining my intention to explore the possibilities of evangelism as an artistic methodology and my desire to create a fellowship of the faithless. Careful to be clear that it was open to anyone but the faithless refers to the desire that regardless of the beliefs of the group it would not be a fellowship centred around religious belief but a fellowship based on a belief or hope in art.

After introducing the outline for the day I asked whoever felt they wanted to share first to begin. As expected this led to an awkward silence but patiently we all waited until someone spoke. I will not be revealing the details of the other testimonies but I wanted to share with you that I found the event moving and emotional. This may seem strange after pointing out that the event was filmed for documentation and perhaps in time and with permission I will exhibit the work but I do not feel a blog is the place to do so.

In recreating a format most recognised when sharing stories of conversion to religious faith I found the same unity with this group that I had previously experienced  before I left the Christian faith. We had a united purpose and it was this purpose among other things that we shared through artists testimonies.

In an earlier post (https://makingsomethingsmallhappen.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/artists-testimonies/) I shared the promotional information for this event, borrowing from 1 Peter 3:15 “always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that you have” I asked for artists to respond. After all 5 other testimonies had been shared I shared a story of the moment I knew art worked. It was when giving out the buns for Tract 4 when all the passengers who accepted began to talk and share stories that I first really felt a fellowship outside of religion could truly be possible.

The testimonies were followed by tea and cake and a discussion where I asked witnesses to share their thoughts and posed some questions to the group. This is definitely a format I will use again.

I will be continuing to facilitate events as part of the making something small happen project and will share themes and thoughts as they develop.