ACES Artists: Victoria J Dean

The ACES participant talks about opportunities, coastlines and working with the Millennium Court Arts Centre

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland launched the Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES) in early 2011. The programme was developed in response to a reducing arts budget and the need to support professional artists to develop successful careers.

Each of the 15 artists have been partnered with a professional arts organisation to receive mentoring and development support to help them deliver new creative work. CultureNorthernIreland catches up with these artistic ACES as they embark on their partnerships.

Victoria J Dean










Who/what/where/when/why is Victoria J Dean?

I have been practicing as a photographic artist since graduating from Blackpool and the Fylde College in 2003.

How did you feel when you were accepted onto the ACES programme?

A mixture of gratitude and delight for being given the opportunity to be able to take the next step in my career path, not only for the financial assistance but also the mentoring from a recognised venue in the Northern Irish art scene.

What was the application process like?

The application process was detailed, but I think once you have applied for an Arts Council award you get used to the structure and the kind of information that is required.

Do you know any of the other ACES artists?

I am familiar with Keith Winter’s and Phil Hession’s work, as we were three of the six artists on the Golden Thread Gallery’s representation scheme in 2010. Our work was featured in various exhibitions throughout the year, some in the gallery in Belfast and some internationally, including in the Galeria Arsenal in Bialystok, Poland. It is great that three of us have been successful in gaining the ACES award.

What organization are you paired with? 

I am very happy to be paired with the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown. Being based outside Belfast it will present a different audience for my work, and provide a broader area in which to network and raise my profile. The gallery spaces are a good size and well presented, providing various options for showing work.

What do you hope to get from the peer mentoring relationship?

Guidance, feedback and support are my main objectives, including assistance in touring the show and gaining as much exposure as possible. I have visited the venue and met with Jackie Barker (Director) and Marietheres Damm (Exhibitions Officer) to discuss our expectations, aims and objectives for the duration of the project. Their professionalism and experience will be invaluable to my practice.

Victoria J Dean










What are you going to be working on?

Last year I completed a project on man’s fortification of the coastline of Ulster and I always envisaged extending the series to the rest of Ireland. With the ACES scheme I am now able to do this within a more structured and informed context resulting in a solo show in 2012. It will be my most developed body of work to date.

Do you think projects such as ACES are valuable for arts professionals?

Absolutely. It can be very difficult as an artist to build a relationship with an arts establishment and the ACES scheme provides a support network, particularly between the artist and those who can help to further the artist’s career.

If you could have been paired with any organization in the world - no matter where, no matter when - who would be your dream partnership?

I would have to say the Museum of Modern Art in New York. An internationally recognised venue, it has a long history of presenting influential photographic exhibitions, long before photography became accepted as an art form on this side of the Atlantic.

Read the rest of the ACES Artists series here.

The picture of Victoria Dean is © 2010 Simon Mills Photography. Photographs in article  © 2010 Victoria J. Dean, Moral Rights Asserted.