A Shout in the Street

Golden Thread Gallery exhibition brings the art world and the street together. Click Play Video for an online exhibition narrated by curator Declan McGonagle 

A Shout in the Street is the fifth in a series of exhibitions which form the Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art project at the Golden Thread Gallery.

As a phrase 'a shout in the street' has a particular resonance for the residents of Northern Ireland. A shout in the street may have been a warning, a bomb threat, a newspaper seller or a greeting. During the Troubles, nothing was for certain.

Compiled by internationally-renowned curator Declan McGonagle, the only'Fish and Chips' curator to be nominated for the Turner Prize for his work with the Orchard Gallery in Derry, and who currently works as director of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, A Shout In The Street combines various different media to present a wide-ranging picture of the nature of Northern Irish art.

Using video art, sculpture, photography, painting, installation and mural art, the exhibition aims to raise issues surrounding the influence of the the Troubles and other social issues on artists and the public.

Although most of the work on show was produced by professional artists, other pieces were created for the exhibition by members of the public.

McGonagle endeavoured to bring well-known images from the street into the gallery. As such, a bonfire installation in the left wing of the Golden Thread Gallery was built specially by a group of young people from the east side of Belfast.

'The question is,' explains McGonagle, 'if these pieces are built by people who don’t consider themselves artists, does that make them art? That's one of the central themes of this exhibition.'

'What I decided to do was to bring together works that everybody agrees are art works, but also other things from Northern Ireland that portray very powerful images but perhaps belong in the street, or in the media.'
The Collective Histories of Northern Irish Art project embraces the overlapping and sometimes contradicting versions of history, from 1945 to the present, so as to create a historical context from which audiences can engage with contemporary practice. It is not an attempt to create one history: central to the project is an acknowledgment that there are many versions of the past and the present.

'Ballad No 001''Things that are normally kept separate, the idea with this exhibition is to bring them together,' continues McGonagle. 'You have the bonfire stacks, for example. Everyone has seen seen them in some environment or other, but over the past few years they’ve become more and more extraordinary – the structure, the complexity of the structure, built by young lads, in many instances.

'I always thought they resemble some aspects of contemporary sculpture, so I thought it would be interesting to bring one such bonfire into a gallery space, something which doesn’t necessarily belong there.

'I’m interested in what the visitor thinks about these combinations. The reaction so far has been very interesting. People are very stimulated with the various juxtapositions.' 

One of the artists featuring in the exhibition is Mark Irvine, son of the late David Irvine. In keeping with the issue-based nature of the exhibition, Irvine's mural is concerned with the lack of social housing throughout Belfast city.

Opposite a reproduction of a famous Belfast mural of the hunger striker Bobby Sands, Irvine's mural is a work in progress which visitors to the gallery can witness taking shape.

A Shout In The Street runs in the Golden Thread Gallery until November 6.

Lee Henry