MART Gallery presents Future/Forward – An exhibition of new and collaborative work by artists from QSS, Belfast.
Curated by: Jane Morrow.
Opening: Saturday 13th August at 1pm.
Runs: 13 August – 2 September 2022
Location: MART, Old Fire Station, 190A Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6, D06 R9F9
Featuring: Alacoque Davey and Sharon McKeown, Amanda Coogan and Sharon Kelly, Amy Higgins and Michelle McKeown, Andrew Haire, Catherine Davison and Rachael Colhoun, Angela Hackett and Anushiya Sundaralingam, Anushiya Sundaralingam and Mary Cosgrove, Ashley B Holmes and Naomi Litvack, Charlie Scott, Craig Donald and David Haughey, Clare French and Grace McMurray, Frédéric Huska, Joy Gerrard and Vasiliki Stasinaki, Gail Ritchie and Meadhbh McIlgorm, Gerard Carson and Gerry Devlin, Jennifer Trouton and Rachel Lawell, Kwok Tsui and Pauline Clancy, Majella Clancy, Sinead McKeever and Niamh Clarke, Mark McGreevy and Susan Connolly
Kindly supported by The Arts Council of Ireland and Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Future/Forward is a long-term programme and series of exhibitions initiated by QSS Studios & Gallery, Belfast. This presentation contributes to a broader exhibition strand by MART, which invites artist-run organisations, studio groups and independent curators from across the island of Ireland to share their work with new audiences and to develop networks with peers throughout the country. This exhibition is the third consecutive configuration of Future/Forward, and the first to feature all 35 participating artists in the same space. Parts 1 and 2 took place between 2 – 23 June and 30 June – 28 July 2022 at QSS in Belfast.
These collaborative groups and pairings were brought together over the course of over 80 studio visits conducted with QSS artists – initially with individuals, and subsequently with pairs/groups – between July 2021 and April 2022. Future/Forward was originally conceived in-house at board level, as a way for QSS members to proceed ‘bravely and gravely’ following the inaccessibility of infrastructure, materials and resources during what Kuba Szreder describes as the ‘forced suspension’ caused by Covid-19.
This period has not been without struggles for artists globally, and those based in QSS are no exception: artists who are unable to be in their studio regularly, who had to sub-let their spaces due to the lost income or opportunities, and those who were simply apprehensive about sharing their ideas, practices, and vulnerabilities with other artists at a time when everything outside the studio was already so unsettling. Future/Forward has aimed to galvanise and re-form the QSS studio community, enabling the generation of new, experimental work, enhancing supportive peer relationships, and offering an opportunity to focus on process and exchange as essential and beneficial elements in the development of an artist’s career and practice.
From a curatorial perspective, my involvement is an extension of my work across network and production contexts, and through creating formal and informal developmental platforms for practitioners. Resourcing, nurturing and profiling others’ practices has been a longstanding facet of my approach. Future/Forward also complements my PhD research, which focuses on the precarity of artists’ studios in Belfast. The arguments made throughout are for increased recognition and value for artists’ work and workspaces, and their unique offer within the infrastructure, as well as enhanced support and funding resources, and modes of practice – including collaboration – that offer artists collective forms of resistance and repair.
My departure points for each pair or group were a series of key words – extracted from notes that I’d taken during the individual studio visit process – and a rationale for the collaboration, which aimed to generate discussions between the artists. Whilst QSS artists are working at different career stages, with varying levels of experience, and working in different disciplines, I emphasised the necessity for equal and reciprocal contributions. The process was designed to be supportive and explorative; envisaged as an opportunity to experiment with ideas or approaches that sat outside their standard modes of practice.
The focus for this series of exhibitions is not on finished work. I encouraged the participating artists to focus on the process of coming together in their collaborative pairs and groups, finding value and significance in ephemeral things: their texts to one another, fragments of their exchanged materials, documentation of their work in progress, or snaps of things posted under closed studio doors. These things are the fabric of a collaborative activity, speaking much more to the integrity of artists’ working methods. The work produced has naturally coalesced around some universal concerns for practitioners: materials, language, objects, time, identity, and rituals. But what is most interesting is where this work, these artists, and their ideas will go from here.
Jane Morrow – May 2022