An AICA-Ireland Discussion
Thursday 1 November 2018 (1.45pm – 4.15 pm)
Banqueting Hall, Belfast City Hall
AICA Ireland is hosting a discussion on Brexit and its implications for visual artists, curators, critics and publics. While media coverage has focussed on the economic and political uncertainty that the referendum has caused, the wider cultural and philosophical contexts have scarcely been addressed. Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of what is now the EU, is supposed to have said, ‘If I had to do it again, I would begin with culture’.
The practical implications for the post-Brexit cultural sector in Ireland, Britain and the rest of Europe is potentially enormous. Artists and academics will be severely affected. While taking account of this, this discussion seeks to look beyond the pecuniary. What does being part of the EU mean to its citizens in cultural terms and in terms of their identity in the contemporary world? What does leaving the EU and becoming a citizen of a ‘great global trading nation’ mean? What role can pan Ireland organisations like AICA Ireland play in this new scenario? For some the EU is a deeply flawed organisation but it remains the most significant and imaginative template for a common European identity, for freedom of movement and peaceful co-existence of its citizens into the future. Brexit throws up significant questions about the resurgence of nationalism, about cultural integration, about missed opportunities for Ireland, North and South, but also potential for change and for new directions including alternative models of exchange. This discussion seeks to probe these questions from a range of historical and philosophical perspectives from writers and artists living in Ireland, the UK and the rest of the EU.
Garrett Carr, School of Arts, English and Language, Queen’s University.
Pat Cooke, School of Art History and Cultural Policy UCD.
Riann Coulter, FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge.
Colin Darke, artist and writer, based in Belfast.
Daniel Jewesbury (By Skype), Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Gavin Murphy, Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT.
Aisling O’Beirn, artist who also works at the Belfast School of Art, UU.
The discussion is chaired by Róisín Kennedy, School of Art History and Cultural Policy UCD.
The event is hosted in partnership with the Belfast Visual Arts Forum (BVAF) and Belfast City Council.
BVAF was established by the city’s visual arts sector and Belfast City Council in 2014 to provide synergy and leadership to facilitate the development of the visual arts sector. It has over 70 members from the visual arts and other relevant stakeholders, such as ACNI, Thrive (formerly Audiences NI) and Voluntary Arts Ireland.
Gavin Murphy and Daniel Jewesbury will develop upon their contributions to an upcoming special issue of Third Text: Lost in Europe: in the wake of Britain’s inner emigration, guest edited by Richard Appignanesi, due to come out later in November.
Lost in Europe: in the wake of Britain’s inner emigration
Open Space Gallery, an affiliate of the art journal Third Text, directed by Gülsen Bal a member of the journal’s Advisory Board, will launch an exhibition project: Lost in Europe: in the wake of Britain’s inner emigration at its new venue in Vienna for 18/19 October to 9 November 2018. The exhibition was conceived by Richard Appignanesi and Gülsen Bal to coincide with the publication of a special issue of Third Text under the same title: Lost in Europe: in the wake of Britain’s inner emigration, guest edited by Richard Appignanesi. The issue is due in November 2018 and will feature original articles responding to the Brexit and Trump phenomena contributed by 18 distinguished European, American and UK authors, with 10 additional artworks by internationally acclaimed artists.
The authors are: Jonathan Harris, Arnd Schneider, Iain Chambers, Fabio Vighi, Gavin Murphy, Victor Merriman, Daniel Jewesbury, Alex Monroe, Juliet Steyn, Matthew Flisfeder, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, Alan Finlayson, Maya Van Leemput, Richard Appignanesi, Benjamin Noys, Emma Schofield, Max Haiven and Shamim Miah.
The artists are: Joan Key, Alan Michelson, Raša Todosijević, Murray Robertson, Haim Bresheeth and Yosefa Loshitzky, Gregory Sholette, Amikam Toren, Bruce Barber, Raphael Appignanesi, Margret Hoppe.
Obituary: Nicola ‘Nikki’ Gordon-Bowe: 1948-2018
There’s been a lot written about Nikki during the weeks since her passing: how she was a brilliant scholar; a pioneer of design studies; a larger than life figure in Irish academia (and beyond). All of these observations are true, but to a vast cohort of students and colleagues she was also an inspiring educator, a mentor, a friend, an ally. She was vivacious, warm, funny, irreverent and always wonderful company — wherever she was, her presence lit up the room.
I first met Nikki as an undergraduate design student in NCAD in the 1980s. At the time, the teaching of Art History to design students was standard practice. But, always interested in and attuned to our individual studio practices, Nikki introduced us to the applied arts, to popular culture, to the everyday and the mass-produced. She nudged us towards subjects that, at the time, were not widely known, or appreciated within academia, but that were more relevant to what would become our professional disciplines. She taught us that images and objects have social and cultural relevance; she encouraged us to work across disciplines; she was a pioneer.
There are many of us today working in design education, research and criticism that owe a large part of our careers to Nikki. Without her encouragement, coupled with her seminal research on Harry Clarke and the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement, we would not have perceived of Design History as a stand alone discipline, let alone thought that we could make careers in this field. In effect she fostered a network of younger scholars with similar interests, with whom she was always happy to share resources and insights.
Nikki had a razor sharp intellect and was insatiably curious; her willingness to constantly learn set her apart from other scholars. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of the creative arts and of Dublin, her adopted city. Like a cross between a detective and an academic she was always asking ‘why’, tenaciously pulling at the threads of some seemingly tangential narrative that had to be explored to the point of either inclusion or exclusion in her research or our own. She taught us to look beyond archives and text, to look to social networks for understanding the mechanisms of how decisions were made, to patterns within and across things, always offering some nugget of information that prompted even further interrogation. She taught us to explore, to be thorough, to question.
As my BA (and later MA) thesis supervisor, Nikki championed my research interests at a time when these perplexed others. She took me (and my research) on as a challenge, making it clear that we were on a journey together, learning from each other. She was unbelievably generous with her contacts and research, always acknowledged her sources and gave due credit, even if those were her own students. Indeed, very soon after I graduated from my BA, she recommended me for my first teaching job; I was barely older than the students I was put in charge of. While I was working on my MA Nikki became a mother. Her delight in her daughter Venetia – ‘named after my favourite place in the world: Venice’ – was truly touching. I have many happy memories of lengthy (and rather unorthodox) tutorials at her home where she had Venetia in one hand, was pulling out books for me with the other, while her husband Paddy diligently made us tea or dinner in the background.
The last time I saw Nikki was December 19th 2017. She was in terrific humour and her usual gregarious self. She joined some of her ‘design girls’ for a quick drink, a prelude to what was meant to be a ‘proper catch up’ after Christmas. Amid exclamations of ‘Oh, you clever, clever girls!’ (her effusive response to whatever projects we were currently working on) she gave us huge hugs and the broadest smile. We all promised to meet after Christmas to continue the conversation. This was cruelly never meant to be. Nikki died on Jan 5th 2018. And we miss her terribly.