Play & Skinned Knees

A gilt grenade, a woman eating Indian Ink and a very naughty toilet are all on display in Catalyst Arts Gallery. Watch an online exhibition with curator Charlotte Bosanquet below

The new Catalyst exhibition Play & Skinned Knees is an eclectic grab bag of art, from the comic inspired 'Whoosh' by Chris Cunningham to the implied gore of video project 'Bloody Thursday' by Kim McAleese and Miguel Martin. Paintings, sculpture, photography, video installations and even one woman's personal atlas are all on display.

Play & Skinned Knees is an unselected exhibition featuring Catalyst members, some from as far afield as New York, where artist Colin McDonald - whose 'Phone Piece' was shipped over for the event - heard about the open call.

'It's nice that the show has that international [feel],' remarks curator and Catalyst director Charlotte Bosanquet. 'And to have all these links with the wider Belfast arts community.' She points out some other pieces - 'Black Holes' by Brendan O’Neill, an ex-director of Catalyst currently working in the Queen Street Studios, and the gorgeous magpie studded globe 'Bits of Earth' submitted by Deirdre McKenna of the Golden Thread Gallery.

The variety of art on display is impressive, ranging from the conceptual to the technically proficient. And with over 40 artworks making up the exhibition, artists have even made use of the gallery toilet.

'I don't know how many people will notice,' Bosanquet admits, pointing to a brass-capped fitting on the toilet door. 'There's a bookshelf there with a children's Peephole Book on it. Then you might look down and see that someone has installed a peephole in the door, so they can make your privacy disappear.'

Some of the artists have taken a literal approach to the Play & Skinned Knees theme. Bosanquet demonstrates that you can actually play the child-sized piano displayed in the middle of the floor, designed by Sinead Bhreathnach-Cashell. Meanwhile in the 'Bloody Thursday' video installation a cheesegrater hovers menacingly over a vulnerable knee.

Others have taken a more obscure inspiration from the title. 'Although birds were not a theme they have come out quite strongly in this show. There's a lot of bird things going on,' Bosanquet points out.

Her own painting 'Mirror Kings' (the members show is the one Catalyst exhibition that directors are allowed to display in) features two kingfishers staring each other down (or one eyeing his reflection). There is also Lisa Malone's slowly revolving, bright red bird entitled 'I Wanted You to Stay' and Peter Peter Surginor's untitled kitsch gilt porcelain bird, perched atop of a revolver and gilt grenade.

Following Play & Skinned Knees, seven pieces will be selected for exhibition in Edinburgh's Embassy Gallery.

'Off the back of the show and trying to connect to other galleries in the UK we have decided to have a selected show there,' Bosanquet explains. 'So we have invited the Edinburgh Embassy Gallery to Belfast to help us select the show with Peter from PS2. It will travel to Edinburgh in March and be open for a week there.'

Play & Skinned Knees is open at the Catalyst Arts Gallery until February 6.

Tammy Moore