My first visit to this small gallery behind the Tivoli Barber’s shop in North Street happened courtesy the painter Gary Shaw.
Until this encounter, I failed to register an art group Belfast Bankers, a name inspired by the group of 29 artists, and ” a load of bees”, taking a short term lease of the vacant Ulster Bank building on Newtownards Road to use as studios. As I knew nothing of its story, I asked Zara Lyness. Her response ( email 1oth 09 2017) I re-print here with her kind permission:
I asked more, and Zara again helped me:
The name of the exhibition, “Captured” belongs more tightly to Neal Campbell, introduced in the gallery handout as “documentary photographer” working primarily with analogue equipment and wet printing technique. Handmade as opposed to digital.
In this first account with Campbell’s images I sense the ethos domineering over aesthetic experience. Reminiscent of 1930s social themes, both his technique and feel for the power of fragment’s to tell a story, revive that iconic period. On his Facebook page I found his “portrait” surrounded with the light used for developing photographs. Dark and wet room – alchemy now.
His lens suggested a delight about what he cut out of a larger vista, which, in turn is allowed to spy on the empty centre, e.g. in Dolphin. The tentacles of tree branches whisper poetry and questions to the monstrosity of useful object, which in turn is spellbound and posturing in equal measure.
Campbell’ s framing is reminiscent of a film or video camera ability to frame and suggest continuity at the same time. Suggestive of the move that never comes, the still image offers a confidence of truth.
No sizes and dates are given. His Untitled and Ladyhill shared the wall with the read door and four paintings, modestly.
The curator Sally O’Dowd included two painters: Esther O’Kelly and Jonny McEwen. Their paintings come from an opposite trajectory between inspiration and the image. He roots his variations of what is green and how green, in the power of tonality. She dares to provoke contrasts to become tame, changing the scale as she moves from the top to the lower parts.
Jonny McEwen is returning to painting from a period of working lens based, video and code governed visual thoughts. His green landscapes issue an approval of the hues, tonality and divided brushstrokes offering greater freedom from anything given. Look at the cheeky little square floating over an almost under water landscape with so much confidence. It even undermines the right of presence to the white fatty scribble that threatens to overwhelm the row of orange shapes while masking a part of the darker horizon. The two dark verticals define the scale as in a the classical composition, a logic violated by the dark rectangle wall on the left and that out of order white opaque scribble in front of it. Pure theatre.
Divided brushstroke he inherits from Abstract Expressionism, taming it to domestic scale
The mirage on the left may be not intentional, but it is working well all the same. All sixteen paintings exhibited have no title, size or date are not given either. Thrown into the world they insist on virtues of not knowing. McEwen strips the debate between what the brushstroke may tell and what the eye may read of any certainty – thus positioning the painted image towards musical composition. When you dwell on the accidental shape of the pink white on the left – both the sensual truth and rejection of narrative is very close to natural phenomena. Mirage or reflection of the cloud? Not necessary to be sure at all. It is more like a half smiling invitation to make it up.
exhibited four paintings, installed on two walls of a corner. Bachelard infused corners with added poetry, so I am inclined to note each separately and as a group.
The titles suggest that any narrative I may attach to viewing it should not share the same root – one connects to an opera, the other to an ocean . Is it visible? I sense that it does not aim to insist on the title to determine the visual thoughts locked in the hues, tonality and brushstrokes. This painter’s personal palette connects more to art than to observed nature. In the way she positions difference over the whole, however, is responsive to the timing in an opera made of many defines parts clearly delineated, and an ocean as powerful unity of its, mostly hidden, parts. One is open to narrative exploration of differences, the other overwhelms by hiding them under the surface of oneness. A plausible register of possibilities. I cherish the power of both paintings to make visible the moment of a hue asserting its presence without a conflict. The open divided brushstroke accepts the calmer fluency of the others, even when provoked by clashing lines of a bigger shape. But in there is a notable knot: what if it muddles the visual poetry of the whole? One possible outcome is the successful grounding the imagined in the remembered. obse I sense that this painter never holds the memory responsible, preferring invention, fresh opening up to dreaming up relationship among the brushmarks. . A sort of spanner in the works- if the works are expected to tell of a past experience Instead – the paintings evoke an experience of making up playful multiple meanings.
I welcome this gallery on the list to visit.
images courtesy of the artists, the curator and the Goose Lane gallery.