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Northern Irish Art

New for 2020–21

This research group aims to identify, share and connect multiple strands of research on contemporary and historical Northern Irish art. Our goal is to develop the profile of Northern Irish art practice and scholarship in addition to creating opportunities for curators, artists and researchers.

A contested term in itself, Northern Irish Art is often found on the periphery of wider national discussions on Irish or British art. With Brexit, the centenary of the partition of Ireland, and continued debates around national identity, (de)colonisation and borders, there has never been a more important time to address the rich and complex subject of Northern Irish art.

Within this group, we will address, explore and trouble the ways in which work related to the North of Ireland has been collected, curated and interpreted, and identify gaps in existing knowledge. Largely, but incorrectly, viewed as a place of simplistic binaries, the research group aims to disrupt this notion of Northern Ireland by creating space for conversations around overlooked practices (for example, queer Northern Irish art; art by BAME artists; pre- and post- conflict practices) as well as political and Troubles related art.

Questions under consideration include:

  • Nationally, and internationally, what key areas of research are currently being addressed in relation to Northern Irish art, and how can we broaden the discussion on modern Northern Irish art beyond a narrow focus on the Troubles?
  • What is needed to establish an archival resource of historic exhibitions and actions that have been produced in relation to Northern Irish Art?
  • How are curators and public institutions throughout the UK addressing complex issues of national identity, conflict, borders, partition and (de)colonisation in relation to the research, exhibition and interpretation of Northern Irish work?

The Northern Irish Art Research Group is co-lead by Anna Liesching (Curator of Art, National Museums NI) and Clare Gormley (Head of Programmes and Partnerships, Belfast Photo Festival).