Portrait of Northern Ireland:

neither an elegy nor a manifesto

This exhibition demonstrated the quality and integrity of fine art practice in Northern Ireland over the past 100 years. It did not aim to be definitive but was rather a survey of the breadth and depth of artists’ responses to the geographical, social and political landscape.

Taking its subtitle from curator John Hewitt’s poem Neither an Elegy nor a Manifesto, the exhibition was neither a lament for nor a celebration of Northern Ireland. Instead, it showed how the artists who were born or have worked in this part of the world have responded to the particular and universal experience of the people who live here.

Whilst the evolution and persistence of artistic themes is not linear, the works in the exhibition gave a sense of the development of fine art practice since the 1920s.

This major exhibition featured over 100 artists who have changed the way we see ourselves and the landscape around us. From Paul Henry and William Scott to Turner Prize nominees, the exhibition also showcased the work of graduates from Belfast School of Art.

Curated by Shan McAnena, the Portrait of Northern Ireland Exhibition was a collaboration between the Northern Ireland Office, the Government Art Collection, Arts Council NI, leading galleries and collectors as part of the wider cultural programme of the Northern Ireland Centenary.

The exhibition was held at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast from 12 October to 4 November 21.

Please visit the website ourstoryinthemaking.com to find out more about Northern Ireland Office Centenary events and programmes. 

The Work