Art Galleries to Visit in Dublin and Belfast
Art Galleries to Visit in Dublin and Belfast, my little arty trip in and around Ireland. Here’s a bunch of great places to get some art, culture, with eats and drinks in between (and there were a lot of really cool cafes and lovely “eaty” places too!). While I was there, I put loads of footage up on my Instagram Stories and Twitter, follow these for art gallery action.
Art Galleries to Visit in Dublin
Photos from the Francis Bacon Studio exhibit above, showing the set up of his relocated studio – an interesting way to get to know an artist, their practice and the way this shapes their thinking, and how they create artwork. With video documentary footage of Bacon talking about his life and work were really interesting too. As a practising artist, there’s not much I can gain from hearing “I follow my instincts when a painting is finished or not” or words to that effect, but the immersive atmosphere created around Bacon’s life was definitely worth checking out.
The Ocean After Nature exhibit I found very intriguing too. The exhibit unpacks the idea of the ocean’s vulnerability and the idea of the ocean as a presence in itself, with the effect of globalisation, pollution, politics and misuse. Using stark photography, installation, video and a rather beautiful map of territory to tell the story of the ocean and make you ponder it’s future long after the exhibit has closed.
The rest of the gallery has a lovely permanent collection, well worth browsing with contemporary Irish artists, Irish expressionism and old classics you’ll have seen in books loads of times before. It has a cafe that smelled like either pizza or cheese and tomato or baked potatoes… maybe all of those things, so that’s wonderful too. The gift shop is very much affordable too, a thumbs up always.
After a walk through the back of the Guinness factory, and a little out of town you get to the grounds of the Royal HospitalKilmainham and the IMMA. The grounds make for a lovely little walk on their own with gardens and all the like. My favourite exhibit was Coast Lines, following on from The Ocean After Nature mentioned above. I wondered whether the two were connected and saw Coast Lines as leading on so sort of mashed the two exhibitions together in my head. Coast Lines took the ocean on as a more animalistic, artistic medium as opposed to The Ocean After Nature.
I also very much enjoyed William Crozier: The Edge of the Landscape for his large-scale expressionist paintings of wildly emotional, raw, angry work. Having toured the Belfast memorials and learned about Ireland’s history, I could marry the references together after seeing this exhibit although a lot of his works are painted before that era. He is now added to my mental list of favourite expressionist painters forevermore.
Found within the University of the Arts Building, a really picturesque walk through the university’s campuses, the gallery is very contemporary with that “undone” semi-permanent feel. The staff were really nice too and actually said hello – unheard of in small trendy modern art galleries. The work that stood out to me was The Artist’s Eye – Mona Hatoum with her video pieces playing, what to me, is her classic work Roadworks which has been recreated over and over and homage paid.
Extras in Dublin:
The Vegan Butcher – massive, hearty, tasty vegan goodness. A really great price too, for two of us, it came to about 17 quid too. Definitely go there for lunch, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day, saving you time and cash, woop.
Bibi’s Cafe – beautifully decorated with that Hygge feel, we had a hearty breakfast of granola with poached pears, French toast and scones for later. Stuffed.
Parking – it’s a weird situation, as we’d got a hire car from Dublin airport to then drive on to Belfast, the Air BnB host let us down with parking permits. We basically had to drive around searching for somewhere to park for longer than three hours and found this place.
Art Galleries to Visit in Belfast
Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness – a bright start to the day, after getting cups of tea and a sit down after driving up from Dublin, the “Shonky” exhibit was just the ticket to wake me up for the afternoon. Exploring the large rooms of brightly coloured, jarring and “awkward” installations, sculptures and videos (that had a certain vaporwave quality to them) you did definitely get a sense of what the curator was trying to achieve in putting this exhibit together. Whilst not being the art I am drawn to at all, this was enjoyable and I got something from it while pondering links to current politics and aesthetic.
Cheng Ran: In Course of the Miraculous – We sat for much longer than anticipated watching Cheng Ran’s film, not the whole six hours, but maybe around forty minutes worth. The cinema room at The Mac being so warm and comfortable. Bathed in the most beautiful, stark and harsh landscapes, the beginnings of a story emerge and you are taken in (in an almost mindful way) and lead along a journey.
A set of short photography exhibits I very much enjoyed. Each tells a story that is well explained, detailed, compelling and, forgive my ignorance, really easy to understand. The three stories dealt with issues surrounding grief and identity in different ways. There were female identity and hidden identity across two exhibits and the third developed ideas based on grief with an artist recreating her late father’s identity through staged photographs. All harmonised from the last. The stories told are both personal and universal, a really great exhibition I definitely recommend.
Extras in Belfast:
St George’s Market – full of food, festive fun and carols, there was something to try from all over the world as well as art and crafts. A happy mish mash I wish I could see more often.
The Sunflower – Beer and pizza cooked outdoors, what more do you need?
Tara Lodge – would 100% recommend staying here it’s very plush, beautiful rooms, big TVs, breakfast included and all that jazz.
Giant’s Causeway – I drove us up, it took about an hour and a half, the visitor centre is amazing, their soup was too spicy and the volcanic nature is brilliant.
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Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Dublin or Belfast, I would love to hear your stories…