Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Lives of Spaces - exhibiting in Ormeau Baths Gallery until 27 March

The Lives of Spaces

The Belfast Film Festival has recently launched this year’s programme. Worth checking out.

One of the films I attended last year included snippets from the Lives of Spaces exhibition that eight Irish architects staged at the Venice Biennale in 2008. The exhibition is now on show in Ormeau Baths Gallery – on Ormeau Avenue, just up from the Holiday Inn. Today at lunchtime, one of the architects involved, Niall McCullough, gave a talk about his piece.

He sees a blurring of the boundaries between disciplines. Architecture and music have long been connected. But increasingly, artists are making structures and buildings that used to be the preserve of architects.

Architectural photographs are nearly always devoid of people, lest they spoil the clean lines of the empty building. Taken early in the morning, with strong light, and stray furniture moved out of the way, the photographs document the new building before the owners and the consumers make their mark.

So for their exhibit, they contrasted shots of an empty building – Waterford City Library, which McCullough Mulvin architectural practice had worked on five years previously – with moving images of it in use. Eight different vistas were filmed and play alongside a filmic version of the original architectural photographs.

As well as the library users, two static figures dressed in black were placed in each shot. Maybe like figures in a renaissance painting, they represent the architects? Maybe they point to the next view. Maybe the tall lady and the short man are looking for each other? Maybe they’re in love? The viewer gets to decide.

McCullough pointed out that it was unusual for him as an architect to return to a building once it was in use. By having to sit in the library to think about the project, he’d discovered and come to terms with elements of his design that had worked, and elements that had been less successful.

Having now worked on a number of library projects, he commented that

“Libraries are great new public spaces.”

In the age of the internet, people still go to libraries and find them to be “value free public spaces” where no one asks you why you’re there, you just go and do your own thing.

You’ll catch the full Lives of Spaces exhibition in the Ormeau Baths Gallery until 27 March.

There are a number of other events associated with the exhibition:

  • Lives and Spaces: Art, Architecture and the Public symposium on Thursday 25 March looking “at how art, architecture and curating intersect in the public realm, through exhibitions, public art and the built environment”. In conjunction with OBG and PLACE.
  • A workshop on Buildings of the World suitable for 8-10 year olds running on Saturday 13 March from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
  • Lastly, at 7pm and 9pm on 23-25 March, members of the Lyric Studio (Lyric Theatre’s professional training programme for 18-24 year olds) will perform their original piece based around themes and visuals from, and responses to the exhibition. Places are limited – so contact Ormeau Baths Gallery in advance.

Update - you might also want to check out Thursday night’s architectural special on Arts Extra. Mark Hackett from the Forum for Alternative Belfast made an appearance along with a critique of the renovated Ulster Museum and talk about the Cathedral Quarter. (h/t to PLACE's blog for the reminder.)

1 comment:

Tim said...

Good article Alan, pity I won't be able to make it to the exhib.