Joy Gerrard (b.1971)

Protest Crowd (Black Lives Matter, Belfast, 6th June 2020) (2021)

Japanese ink on paper

20cm x 28cm

Courtesy of the artist

Insta @joygerrard

Twitter @joygerrard

Joy Gerrard lives and works in Belfast. She graduated with a BA from NCAD, Dublin and an MA and MPhil from the Royal College of Art, London. Gerrard is known for work that investigates different systems of relations between crowds, architecture and the built environment. Using Japanese ink on paper and canvas, she makes detailed ink works which re-create recent political protests from around the world.

Solo exhibitions include ‘Precarious Freedom’ at Highlanes Gallery (2021) and touring, ‘Put it to the People’ at the Golden Thread Gallery (2020), Belfast, ‘supermarket‘ in Stockholm with Ormston House (2019), ‘shot crowd ’at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2017) and Protest Crowd, Peer UK, London (2015). Selected group exhibitons include: Protest and Remembrance, Cristea Roberts Gallery, London, 2019 and In a Dream You Saw A Way To Survive and You Were Full of Joy; Hayward Gallery Touring show (2016). She has installed multiple public installations since 2004 including major works in the London School of Economics, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, for Tideway (London) and Facebook (London and Dublin). Gerrard completed an artist residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2020.

This piece is a small, detailed drawing of a Black Lives Matter Protest. The rally took place in a public space outside the law courts in Belfast in June 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd. It was one of the first civic assemblies to take place after the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. The image is made from a collage of personal photos and media images, which is re-drawn with Japanese ink on paper. This work has a low viewpoint, which is unusual for Gerrard’s work. This was a socially distanced protest and marked X’s are visible on the ground, showing places for people to stand.

The elemental simplicity of Gerrard’s ink drawings and paintings contradicts the material complexity of making. The viewer considers the precarious freedom of protest and the relation between populism and representative democracy. In her work, the figure of the crowd represents an expression of collective agency.