‘Irish Modernisms’: legacies of modernism in the North

'Irish Modernisms': legacies of modernism in the North


29/05/2021 - 18/09/2021    


CCA Derry~Londonderry
10–12 Artillery St, Derry-Londonderry, BT48 6RG

Event Type

Loading Map....

The Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry is pleased to reopen its doors with a new exhibition, Irish Modernisms: legacies of modernism in the North

From architecture and infrastructure to everyday domestic design, the works in the exhibition include print, sculpture, textile, and architecture, highlighting the complex and nuanced influence of modernism in the North of Ireland. The exhibition is co-curated by Catherine Hemelryk and Matt Retallick. This exhibition is open to the general public Tues–Sat, noon–6pm. We are hosting bubble bookings on Thursday mornings for a maximum of six people from up to two households; book here.

James Ashe’s work often responds to architecture and the built environment, and for this exhibition he presents a series of newly commissioned print editions of Modernist buildings across NI from Craigavon, Banbridge, Sion Mills and Derry~Londonderry. Rachael Campbell-Palmer’s work addresses seriality and architecture with two bodies of work using concrete features in the exhibition. Seriality is also a feature of Grace McMurray’s hand-woven ribbon works, using geometry and patterns of Modernist art and design that also questions gendered labour and its value. 

Ben Weir has created a site-specific sculptural installation to transform CCA’s gallery into an abstracted domestic environment. Using modular concrete blocks the hearth and countertop host domestic objects selected by Phillip McCrilly. Phillip’s research is present through the ornaments, trinkets, demijohns of Gorse Wine, foraged wildflowers and a remaking of a rejected illuminated sign amongst other items.

To coincide with the new exhibition Irish Modernisms: legacies of modernism in the North, the CCA Derry-Londonderry invites you to a series of mid-week talks and discussions which examine the legacy of modernism. Starting with the island of Ireland, the geographical reach will expand over the weeks to explore global contexts. Click here to book tickets on the British Art Network’s Eventbrite page.


James Ashe’s work often responds to architecture and the built environment, and for this exhibition he presents a series of print editions. Design, illustration, and typography are brought together to showcase a series of modernist buildings in Northern Ireland, some familiar, some more obscure. Included are the imposing St Theresa’s Church at Sion Mills, and the unassuming Abercorn Service Station here in Derry/Londonderry. James is currently featured in the exhibition Collecting the Past/Making the Future: Marking Centenaries 2021 at Ulster Museum, and his other exhibitions and projects include Belfast Built Heritage at Framewerk, Belfast (2020), and Signboard at The Black Box, Belfast (2020). The prints are available as limited editions, available exclusively at the gallery, and all proceeds help fund our programme. 

Rachael Campbell-Palmer’s work addresses seriality and architecture. She works with concrete, plaster, and resin, materials that through their production and exhibition are situated between the industrial and the hand-crafted. In the exhibition she presents two bodies of work which demonstrate an interest in the slippages of material surface. Whether that is concrete quietly taken over by nature, or the dominant high polished finishes seen in our cityscapes. Her exhibitions include TULCA 2016: The Headless City, Galway, Methods for Egress at QSS Gallery, Belfast (2016), Periodical Review #5 at NCAD Gallery, Dublin (2015), and TERRA FIRMA at PS Squared, Belfast (2014). 

Phillip McCrilly is interested in the tentative adoption of Irish modernism and considers how this has affected his own life. For example, as the fireplace, or hearth was modernised in the Irish home, the ornaments displayed on its mantel often remained the same. From bottles of holy water, beer mats or treasured trinkets such as autographs, Phillip has selected several objects that demonstrate this tension, and these are displayed on a sculpture by Ben Weir. Phillip’s interest in the blurring lines between public and personal extend to other artworks on display. This includes an imagined sign for the Carpenter Club, a queer social space in Belfast. Refused illumination, it is inspired by a rejected sign for Hobsons of Moy that was deemed too modern, and therefore never realised. This is accompanied by a wall painting depicting the signature of St Eligius, Patron Saint of Electricians. There are also two demijohns of Gorse Wine, left to ferment throughout the exhibition duration. Made using wildflowers foraged from Shaws Bridge, an area of Belfast saved through modernist city planning in the 1960s and known as a cruising hotspot. Phillip is a member of FRUIT SHOP, a Belfast based arts collective, and his exhibitions and projects include, Sauerkraut Jetty at CCA Derry-Londonderry (2018), and Dance Food at Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2017). 

Grace McMurray takes inspiration from the geometry and patterns of modernist art and design. The construction of her artworks appears mechanical, but on closer inspection, the intricate geometry reveals the traces of the human hand. Grace is interested in order and control, questioning gendered labour and its value. Her work refers to Irish textile traditions and takes inspiration from the architectural structures and patterns that surround her. Newly conceived and existing works are installed in such a way that the intricate processes of making are revealed. Grace is a member of the 2021 Turner Prize nominated Array Collective, Belfast, and her exhibitions include Expanded Studio Project at Primary, Nottingham (2016), and Woven Polyhedra at University of Ulster, Belfast (2018). 

Ben Weir presents a new sculptural intervention which seeks to transform Gallery 1 into an abstracted domestic environment. The modular construction formed from concrete blocks offers the dimensions of a hearth and a countertop and will host domestic objects selected by Phillip McCrilly. Ben is Research Associate at CCA Derry-Londonderry, and his exhibitions include Casa Vilaró: A Caress and a Blow at Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona (2020), Artists in Architecture: Re-Activating Modern European Heritage at BOZAR, Brussels (2019), and Imagine! Belfast Festival of Politics and Ideas, Belfast (2018).


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. You can review our Privacy Policy under the menu above: About VAI > VAI Privacy Statement