5th March – 16th April, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda
19th March – 30th April, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
WE ARE HERE: SONGS FROM A FORGOTTEN PAST is a new artists' moving image programme developed through a collaborative partnership with British Council, LUX, Highlanes Gallery Drogheda and Golden Thread Gallery Belfast.
Exploring themes of marginality and its representation, community, storytelling, world-building and critically reframing histories, two linked exhibitions in Drogheda and Belfast present films from WE ARE HERE: SONGS FROM A FORGOTTEN PAST, one of five artists’ film programmes curated by Tendai John Mutambu for the British Council and LUX, an international arts agency that supports and promotes artists’ moving image practices. The two exhibitions and programme of events at Highlanes Gallery and Golden Thread Gallery are separate but in conversation with each other; different interpretations from different places, with visits from each side of the border of the island of Ireland, to the other gallery, offering a chance to see the films and broader exhibition from each other’s ‘here’.
The exhibition at Highlanes Gallery Drogheda presents a range of media from moving image and sculpture to painting and photography and artists featured include Ayo Akingbade, Ursula Burke, Duncan Campbell, Tom Fitzgerald, Luke Fowler, Cliona Harmey, Anthony Haughey, Susan Hiller, Samson Kambalu, Brian Maguire, Colin Martin, Mairead O'hEocha, and Daphne Wright.
WE ARE HERE opened at Highlanes Gallery on Saturday 5th March and will run until Saturday 16th April.
Alongside the main exhibition, Highlanes will present an exciting public programme including a project to engage teachers and students at Primary School Level with ideas and materiality in the exhibition, guided tours for students at Second Level, gallery talks, children’s workshops and both in-person and online talks with the curatorial group, exhibiting artists, Tendai John Mutambu and the Golden Thread Gallery Belfast.
For the exhibition at Highlanes Gallery, a diverse group of individuals, artists, and artist-teachers from across the country, and lecturers in Art and Design Teacher Education from Limerick School of Art & Design, have been invited to reflect on the work of the artists in SONGS FROM A FORGETTEN PAST and together curate an exhibition that reflects on the themes around the selection, as well as select work from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Collection (celebrating 70 years in 2022), and the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection at Highlanes Gallery.
The activation and engagement of this curatorial group, who meet remotely across Zoom each Wednesday follows on from a ground-breaking project between Highlanes Gallery and British Council Ireland in 2016, In Sense of Place - Two student groups from two schools in Drogheda curated an exhibition from the British Council Collection and the Collection at Highlanes Gallery, with every aspect of the exhibition undertaken by the students, including the selection of artworks, the research, the active talking and thinking about the connections between artwork in collections, the installation, the marketing, social media, and communications.
Mirroring this initiative, the curatorial group for WE ARE HERE: SONGS FROM A FORGOTTEN PAST have been researching and engaging directly with artists, Highlanes Gallery director Aoife Ruane, curator Tendai John Mutambu, and Ben Mullligan, the Collection Manager at Arts Council Ireland. The group will continue to meet weekly and, as well as the exhibition, will develop and take part in the public programme at Highlanes Gallery, and in collaboration with the Golden Thread Gallery. They will engage artists, writers, educators, other curators, student teachers of Art & Design, Art Teachers at Primary and Second Level, as well as the general public and will activate a range of short and longer term actions and programmes with Highlanes Gallery.
Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery, Drogheda opened its doors on October 4, 2006 and was the culmination of many years planning to deliver a dedicated visual art space for the Irish north east region, of an international standard in terms of design, management, environmental control and security. The gallery is sited in the former Drogheda Franciscan Church and part of the Friary; known locally as the ‘High Lane Church’. The buildings date from the early 19th century, though elements date back to earlier times and include the former Franciscan burial crypts. The main exhibition spaces are open plan and include the old Church level and a new floor at the height of the old balcony and as such, the character of the building is not lost.
Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery programme over the first year saw it reintroduce the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection (DMAC) to the public for a three-month period. This was complemented with borrowed works from national and private collections, in order to place the late 19th century works in the Drogheda collection in their context, which has a strong representation from women artists. Other elements of the little-known Drogheda Municipal Art Collection – which dates from the 17th Century, were shown from time to time. Highlanes Gallery programmes approximately five temporary exhibitions every year, some of which are drawn from the Collection.
GOLDEN THREAD GALLERY
Golden Thread Gallery is Belfast’s leading contemporary visual art gallery. It works to broaden access to and improve public experience of visual art in Northern Ireland. Their purpose is to present innovative artistic programmes of high quality that embrace the breadth and variety of contemporary arts practice, and to develop, support and promote the work of contemporary Northern Irish artists and creative practice.
Their mission statement is “Creating a context, challenging perceptions, promoting creativity, delivering contemporary visual art for all”. They strive to be a destination where each and every visitor is engaged, educated, challenged and inspired by visual art.
Golden Thread's main gallery annual programme showcases world-class national and international artists, while their Project Space programme is designed to support early career artists. They attract diverse audiences, and strive to make contemporary art more accessible to the widest possible audiences by providing arts-based outreach programmes. Their offers have been devised to build audiences, improve access and public experience, and support the region’s contemporary visual arts professionals.
LUX is an international arts agency that supports and promotes artists’ moving image practices and the ideas that surround them. Founded in 2002 as a charity and not-for-profit limited company, the organisation builds on a long lineage of predecessors (The London Film-Makers’ Co-operative, London Video Arts and The Lux Centre) which stretch back to the 1960s. www.lux.org.uk
Tendai Mutambu is a New Zealand-based writer, editor, and curator, presently working as Acting Curator at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary, Assistant Producer on Aura Satz’s first feature ‘Preemptive Listening’ and Commissioning Editor for ArtNow Essays. Tendai was until recently Assistant Curator of Commissions and Public Programmes at Spike Island, Bristol where he contributed to projects on Pacita Abad, Peggy Ahwesh, Eric Baudelaire/Alvin Curran, Adam Khalil/Bailey Sweitzer, Zinzi Minott, Imran Perretta, and Laura Phillips.
Other recent work includes: ‘The Conch’ at South London Gallery; ‘We Are Here: Work from the LUX and British Council Collections’ (2019-22); ‘Artist in Profile: Marwa Arsanios’ at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (2019); ‘Sriwhana Spong: a hook but no fish’ at Govett-Brewster/Len Lye Centre (2018). Tendai has written for Frieze, Art Monthly UK, LUX Moving Image, Ocula Magazine, and Runway Journal of Contemporary Art, and Zac Langdon-Pole’s Art Journey’ (2019) published as part of the BMW Art Prize at Art Basel. His forthcoming essays will appear in exhibition catalogues for Peggy Ahwesh’s first UK solo (Spike Island, 2021), and Ufuoma Essi’s first major solo exhibition (South London Gallery, 2021).