Killard house school | Artist Journal
Artist Julie Forrester, Visit to the MAC Belfast

Killard house school artist journal : Artist Julie Forrester

Visit to the MAC Belfast

March 23, 2019

We had an epic visit to the Mac with Year 9s (and year 10s). We were greeted by Clare Lawlor the learning and participation officer who brought us around the Mac International 2018 exhibition. We were curious to see work by artists from Ireland, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Croatia Austria, France, Turkey, Palestine, USA and Canada. A tour guide met us at each exhibit and guided us into the work. We saw a skyline made of kitchen utensils and guessed where the artist was from by looking at the ‘architecture’ of the wooden forms (it was full of dome shapes) in this space we saw a drawing by another artist – a map of New York with recorded snippets of observations and songs and conversations overheard by the artist “…ain’t no mountain high enough” there was a photograph of a giant statue of Christopher Columbus. this was spread along the wall offering an alternative backdrop to the other artist’s skyline which was suspended in front of it.

We passed a long heavy curtain with a projector pointing at it. The projector was out of action so we experienced the vast curtain as a sculpture standing in a pool of light, with a photo image of piles of things (old fashioned rolls of film) on the wall and another photo with people in it in a pool of light behind it. We were led into a darkened room where there was a film showing and soft voices speaking in a foreign language, 2 women’s voices talking accompanied by some  eerie sounds, the film was bronze coloured and showed something that looked like a wasteland – there were things falling from the sky, we saw from the subtitles that these discs were plates, and it the picture seemed to be some kind of dream including sisters and elders, a big hole, a girl and then a woman on a plate, plates and bombs – the spliced together images video and photo suggested past and present.

We went upstairs and met a guide in a big open space, the guide asked us to go to the thing that drew us in the most, nearly everyone went to the far corner where there was a hanging thing, a massive chalkboard drawing and 3 screens with headphones attached and a bench to sit on! The guide told us we had selected the winning entry and asked why we chose this one. One of us said “the headphones” – she had been attracted by something that was hidden, that promised sound – (music?) she could listen to. Another student said he got bored of the sound and didn’t really understand the drawings and so he went back to his initial choice; these were “photographs” that showed metals with modern day objects embedded into them, like fossils – there was something that looked like a radar or a satellite dish in one of them, we found out that these were collages, images pieced together to show a new ‘reality.’ He also likes the objects, by the same artists, that looked like underwater wrecks of ancient civilisations, the geode this student had brought with him and was carrying in his hand (he had bought this  it in a car boot sale to add to his collection and wanted to show it to me)  seemed to chime with the ‘landscapes’.

Another student selected a film which showed the sea, a coastline, some women, a man and then some fragments of clothes – lit up colour bobbing along, submerged and beautiful, he liked the sound (of the sea) he said it was peaceful.


In the middle of this room there were some strange clusters of objects on drum stands that seemed to be related to one another, collections, mainly metal and plastic and monochrome silvery grey/white, lots of circles and discs, a broken mirror on one deflected the light differently, twin seives like Mickey Mouse ears, there was a wooden dish rack with some plates stacked in it on their sides so they looked like elipses, they suggested orbits – something like the rings of Saturn, all of these placed on a chalked in grid that had been worn away by people passing. Later we got to talk to the artist who explained that she was interested in how we see constallations, this was a true map of The Plough, part of the constellation of the Big Bear and how hard it it for us to think about space/time, there was a map on the wall which we could take that showed deep space – what we see now in this part of the sky is really thousands of years ago…

We turned the corner of this big space and went into a darkened interior, papered with botanical drawings, there was a little sculpture, its bottom made of ancient clay, broken, its head replaced by a skull, with added on horns – a miniature deer cartoonish, this long room was divided by a long log with stripped bark, we thought it looked plastic, and a thing that everyone remembered later – a dead bird nestled in the nook of the swirling naked wood grain. Even the ‘running man’ emergency exit signs had been altered in this space, they were covered with a blue filter.

We didn’t see the other exhibit in this corner of the Mac because of the effect of the flashing lights.


Then we saw another competition, one run by the Mac for school students. Again we were asked to pick our favourite – we chose a painting of a little fox in a lilac and purple night-lit wood, a black and white picture of a sphere made up of painted white dots and whooshes of charcoal (this, we found out, was of a famous Belfast Sculpture nicknamed ‘the Balls in the Falls’) and the most popular picture was of a field of red poppies – large at front and disappearing into a monochrome distance.

Then we went to have bit of lunch, and our workshop with artist, Charlotte Bosanquet. the room was set up with tables covered with lilac tablecloths and there was a table full of really exciting stuff, hoses and reels and blue and orange tape and all kinds of coloured pipes and foam. Year 10s went off for a tour of Belfast and year 9s split into 4 teams of 4 we were asked to make a planet of our own invention, we could use any materials we liked and our planet could have its own rules. Our group made a gassy planet that had the power to cool other planets down or heat them up, our ‘planet’ wasn’t at all self contained and we had some challenge creating this shapeshifter, we inserted things into tubes and made them spin, we tied lengths or red and white rope to it to show its tentacles across space and how it could reach out to other planets, then one student blew into one of the tubes and made our planet whistle. In our 4 star constellation there was also a black hole, a hot planet and an animal planet. Charlie brought us into the gallery space to share our ideas about our planets.

It was a great day