John Carson (b.1951)

Friend Map

Mixed media

140cm x 117cm

Private collection

John Carson is an artist whose work has explored various media, contexts and strategies. He has presented live performances, made soundworks and CDs, broadcast work on television and radio, created installations, and both as a curator and artist, been involved in many types of ‘public art’ project. He received his Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from The University of Ulster in Belfast in 1976 and his Master of Fine Arts Degree from California Institute of the Arts in 1983. From 1986 to 1991 he was Production Director of Artangel, a London-based organization which presented temporary art works in public locations. He has been a visiting lecturer at various schools and colleges in Ireland, UK, Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. He taught at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland and at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, England where he was Course Director of the BFA program from 1999 to 2006. From 2006 to 2016 he was Head of the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is now a member of the teaching faculty. Carson has exhibited drawings, photographs, prints and sculpture in such venues as The Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin, The ICA in London, CCA in Glasgow, IKON Gallery in Birmingham, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in Australia, The Aine Art Museum in Tornio Finland, PS1 in New York, New Langton Arts in San Francisco and The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.

During Carson’s time at the College of Art and Design in Belfast, from 1975 to 1977, he worked on a number of projects which explored geographical and social aspects of the Belfast and Carrickfergus area where he grew up. This set of projects took him out of the art college building and into the streets, the countryside, and peoples’ homes. For Friend Map (October 1975 to October 1976), he visited friends and relations in and around Belfast, and photographed them in their homes. The photographs were placed on a map of the area to create an artwork depicting a social network of connections and relationships, which crossed geographical, religious and political divisions.