Local artists celebrated in Rhythm and Hues
Some well-known cultural champions from the music industry will fill the London Street Gallery this weekend as part of a fantastic new exhibition of work by renowned artist, and former President of the Royal Ulster Academy, Julian Friers.
The exhibition titled ‘Rhythm and Hues’ has been specially commissioned as part of the City of Culture 2013 celebrations, and recognises some of the biggest names in the music industry including some of our own homegrown talent. Local jazz legend Gay McIntyre and actress and singer Bronagh Gallagher take their places alongside Dave Fanning, Terri Hooley and Henry McCullough in 14 larger than life canvasses celebrating music and creativity.
The works are a departure from Friers’ internationally recognised wildlife painting and rugged landscapes, and are inspired by the Solidarity weekend of 2007.
“My imagination was fired by the vibrancy of new musical creativity and the rejection of rivalry amongst performers,” he explained. “The Solidarity weekend of 2007 has almost moved into the folklore of local music here. It seemed to capture a real sense of the vibrancy of new musical creativity and the rejection of rivalry among performers - it was well named.
“I, along with most of the audience, I think, was struck by the camaraderie, optimism and warm community of all these music people, not just the performers but all those associated. Something altered for me that weekend and I felt compelled to record it somehow.
“Although not my main area, portraiture is something I have been interested in over many years and is such an engaging exercise both to execute and, hopefully, to view. It was the obvious vehicle. Something happens when people are represented in paint that can be, for me, exciting and also rather inexplicable.
“Both my sons are in bands so, logically, I started there. When I increased the scale of the paintings in order to make the sitters around life-size it was clear that these were going to form a series. Most of my work to this point had been fairly solitary, painting alone in my studio but now there was required to be some interaction with every sitter, (or more often stander!) getting to know them to a greater or lesser extent, before beginning the work.
“As it turned out that would have been reason enough to set out on what has been a rich and rewarding experience; they have all been fascinating, very unassuming and a pleasure to work with. I am really grateful to them all. It is, after all, through them that the collection can feel inclusive. They have all been so amenable despite not knowing how I meant to portray them.
“Some of the bands involved in the Solidarity weekend have gone on to great things, most are still gigging, many more people have come to music since and the whole scene has retained its originality, its vibrancy, a greater awareness of its history and its sense of family. That’s worth recording, worth celebrating.”
The exhibition will be opened on Friday evening at 6.30pm by local musician, BBC broadcaster and member of The Undertones, Michael Bradley, and will run until October 5.
Local artists will be delighted to hear that not only is Friers creating this exhibition especially for the London Street Gallery, but he will also be running a masterclass for local artists, titled ‘Drawing on Experience’, at the gallery in October and places are still available.
Speaking on behalf of the Culture Company Noelle McAlinden, curator of the gallery, said it was a real privilege to be able to feature the specially commissioned works. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the response from all involved, especially artists and musicians, seeing portraits of personalities so familiar to us,” she said. “There were so many portraits Julian could have chosen to create, so many talented musicians from the NW - the series could easily be extended throughout the year.
“We are so grateful to Julian for creating this exhibition for the City of Culture celebrations and agreeing to hold a master class in our Gallery. I expect we are going to be inundated with applications, so I would encourage anyone who has an interest life drawing to register as soon as possible, and anyone with an interest in local music – don’t miss this show. The opening night promises to be a night of rhythm and hues and we’re looking forward to seeing the public’s response. We are sourcing an additional venue to exhibit the portraits for the rest of the year and look forward to confirming soon.”
The exhibition will launch on Friday September 27th at 6.30pm and run until October 5th at London Street Gallery, for more information go to www.londonstreetgallery.org, and to book places at the masterclass telephone 02871 260051.