Tony Hayes from Studio e11even has confirmed the exhibition for the 2nd July. The only bad thing about this now is that have realised how close it is. I have spoken to two other Artists with the view of asking 1 or two more. I don’t want the show to be big and the smaller group will mean the planning will be easier and more meticulous.
This has all happened in the background of the Ashers Bakery case, a Belfast bakery who refused to bake a cake because of its pro gay message (see link http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/19/northern-ireland-ashers-baking-company-guilty-discrimination-gay-marriage-cake).
My work has been approaching the evangelist underbelly of Northern Irelands society so the fact that this is being scrutinised in the media only serves to make it more relevant.
I have taken the step to suggest an underlying theme for the exhibition asking the participants to create an ‘artists response to living in modern post-conflict NI. I personally want to avoid depictions of riots, balaclavas, armoured police and petrol bombs as this no longer represents myself and those around me. Instead I want to focus on what has been left after the conflict subsided. Party leaders being made up of ex terrorists and evangelistic fundamentalists.
Political leaders who still blame the other side and pander to the more extreme parts of society, There are those who still wish to parade unionist superiority or fight for a united Ireland. Many form society have moved on from this, a free Ireland whilst still possible is unlikely and is more of a romantic notion for many than an actual political ideology and Unionists are still livid at the though that they no longer have the monopoly on the province, waving the union flag like a gang sign and breeding right wing racism in an already divided society. These are not the views of a modern NI those who want taxes to go to arts and housing. to improve the economy with tourism and leisure. Not to funnel back into policing segregation and violence.
I believe this is a topic that has been seldom approached. Until now any art that has dealt with Northern Ireland has been based on the conflict of the past, whilst segregation and sectarianism still spill out till this day, there is a growing number who are sick of the squabbling, the digging up of the past and ‘unresolved issues’ of the conflict. In contemporary NI, the current heads of the main political parties are seen as dinosaurs, relics of the past. This can bee seen as counterproductive in moving forward to an inclusive and shared society.