'My apologies,' says Colin Davidson, president of the Royal Ulster Academy, tucking his mobile phone into his jacket pocket. 'It's been a busy day, lots of phone calls. Part and parcel of the exhibition. It's all hands on deck.'
It's the busiest time of year for Davidson, with the annual RUA exhibition in the Ulster Museum only just hung and the doors about to open. He expects upwards of 40,000 gallery goers to visit the exhibit during its three-month run, which ends on January 5. Big interest. Big expectations.
But Davidson welcomes the pressure. It's his second year as president of the RUA – 'the largest and longest established body of practicing visual artists in Northern Ireland' – and he has not been afraid of taking risks, changing things up, potentially inviting criticism during his time at the helm.
This year's exhibition is typically eclectic, but features video works for the first time in the Ulster Museum, and a separate room dedicated to Brendan Jamison's 'Sugar Metropolis', which Davidson describes as a 'major interactive exhibit'. 'We want people to get in there and build their own structures with the sugar cubes,' he says. 'That's not something we've done before.'
In the video above, Davidson discusses curating the exhibition, gives a tour of the four gallery spaces, and recalls producing his portrait of the boxer Tyson Fury, which is also on display.
'He'll see it in person at some point during the duration of the show. I'm generally nervous whenever anybody sees [my] work, but considering Tyson's size, and what he does as a profession, I think I might choose to stand at the other side of the room.'
The Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition runs in the Ulster Museum, Belfast until January 5, 2014.