Russian Dolls and Matthew Walmsley

All Aboard for the Golden Thread Gallery

 

A triumvirate of artists at the Golden Thread Gallery explore themes of collaboration, intersection and inspiration in the aptly titled  Russian Dolls exhibition. Each of the three artists exhibiting uses both the work of other artists (in a variety of ways) and active interaction with the audience to create a discreet piece of stand-alone art.

For artist Matthew Walmsley, when the Golden Thread Gallery’s creative director Peter Richard’s contacted him about exhibiting in the gallery, the theme was a perfect fit for his artistic practice.

‘A lot of my work is about adapting places,’ Walmsley explained. ‘Creating architecture that has a surprise inside, something that is quite serious and light-hearted at the same time.’

The last time Walmsley, who lived and worked in Belfast during the 90s, exhibited in the Golden Thread Gallery was in 2002. That was shortly after he’d left Northern Ireland, seeking to escape the ‘small pool’ where everyone knew your name.

‘That’s not a bad thing,’ he hastens to add. ‘It’s just you want different things at different times. I went from here to London, where I was completely anonymous, and now I’m back to living in a small town where, thanks to running two galleries until recently, I’m quite well-known.’

That ‘small town’ is Berwick-upon-Tweed – ‘the last English town before it becomes Scotland’ – and it was, in part, the inspiration between Walmsley’s ‘doll’ for the exhibition. The town is situated close to Lindisfarne Island and it was from there that Walmsley got the idea for his ‘Boat-Shed Gallery’ from the local fishermen’s distinctive storage huts.

‘There are these amazing upturned fishing boats that the fishermen cut in half and use for their gear,’ Walmsley explains. ‘When I saw them, I found them fascinating.’

So Walmsley constructed his own fishing boat hut, complete with authentic looking seagull guano, and stocked it with the tools of his other career as a curator. The result is both art on its own and a functioning, if miniature, art gallery.

With each exhibition the ‘Boat-Shed Gallery’s’ internal show is rotated to mirror a localised theme.

matthewboatgallery - Copy

‘The first time it was exhibited, on the Island, the art was themed around Lindisfarne Castle,’ Walmsley explains. ‘This time I had an open call submission on the theme of boats and Belfast.’

Walmsley was delighted with the response to his call, with art submitted by artists at diverse career points. ‘There were recent graduates, mid-career artists and well-established artists,’ he says. ‘There was also work submitted by artists whose natural subject matter is boats and by those who created something in response to the theme.’

A triumvirate of artists at the Golden Thread Gallery explore themes of collaboration, intersection and inspiration in the aptly titled Russian Dolls exhibition. Each of the three artists exhibiting uses both the work of other artists (in a variety of ways) and active interaction with the audience to create a discreet piece of stand-alone art.

For artist Matthew Walmsley, when the Golden Thread Gallery’s creative director Peter Richard’s contacted him about exhibiting in the gallery, the theme was a perfect fit for his artistic practice.

‘A lot of my work is about adapting places,’ Walmsley explained. ‘Creating architecture that has a surprise inside, something that is quite serious and light-hearted at the same time.’

The last time Walmsley, who lived and worked in Belfast during the 90s, exhibited in the Golden Thread Gallery was in 2002. That was shortly after he’d left Northern Ireland, seeking to escape the ‘small pool’ where everyone knew your name.

‘That’s not a bad thing,’ he hastens to add. ‘It’s just you want different things at different times. I went from here to London, where I was completely anonymous, and now I’m back to living in a small town where, thanks to running two galleries until recently, I’m quite well-known.’

That ‘small town’ is Berwick-upon-Tweed – ‘the last English town before it becomes Scotland’ – and it was, in part, the inspiration between Walmsley’s ‘doll’ for the exhibition. The town is situated close to Lindisfarne Island and it was from there that Walmsley got the idea for his ‘Boat-Shed Gallery’ from the local fishermen’s distinctive storage huts.

‘There are these amazing upturned fishing boats that the fishermen cut in half and use for their gear,’ Walmsley explains. ‘When I saw them, I found them fascinating.’

So Walmsley constructed his own fishing boat hut, complete with authentic looking seagull guano, and stocked it with the tools of his other career as a curator. The result is both art on its own and a functioning, if miniature, art gallery.

With each exhibition the ‘Boat-Shed Gallery’s’ internal show is rotated to mirror a localised theme.

‘The first time it was exhibited, on the Island, the art was themed around Lindisfarne Castle,’ Walmsley explains. ‘This time I had an open call submission on the theme of boats and Belfast.’

Walmsley was delighted with the response to his call, with art submitted by artists at diverse career points. ‘There were recent graduates, mid-career artists and well-established artists,’ he says. ‘There was also work submitted by artists whose natural subject matter is boats and by those who created something in response to the theme.’

He calls the exhibition All Aboard, and it is on show at ‘Belfast’s smallest art gallery’. The space is  large enough to enter, once you get over the instinctive fear of touching anything in an art gallery, but too small to stand upright in. Despite that it is a fully functioning art gallery, with a professionally-structured and hung exhibition.

Walmsley confides that there is another gallery that claims to be ‘Northern Ireland’s smallest art gallery’, but he hasn’t been able to track them down yet. His sources, however, have assured him that the ‘Boat-Shed Gallery’ has the size disadvantage in the bag.

Russian Dolls is at the Golden Thread Gallery until August 3


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