The British Council, I.NY and St. Patrick’s Festival present Emma Campbell, Clodagh Lavelle, Grace McMurray, Thomas Wells and Stephen Millar from the 2021 Turner Prize-winning Array Collective, in conversation with Director of IMMA, Annie Fletcher, to discuss their work, its intention and ambition, the Collective’s connections to Ireland and the importance of identity, belonging, myth and ritual in art and activism.
On December 1st 2021, eleven artists known as Array Collective were declared the winners of the 2021 Turner Prize, Britain's most prestigious contemporary-art award. They won this leading international award for their presentation of ‘The Druithaib’s Ball’ - a recreation of an Irish shebeen, and one full of references to 100 years of Northern Irish history.
Array Collective, which includes four members from the Republic, have worked together since 2016 and are motivated by the growing anger around human rights issues in Northern Ireland and beyond. They’ve gained renown for their playful use of performance, protest, photography, print, installation and video in their work, while campaigning with a great deal of dark humour on issues such as women’s rights, disability rights and LGBTQ+ rights. In awarding them the 2021 Turner Prize, the jury recognised an ”...amazing lightness of touch and play and conviviality and sense of hospitality, and the sense of carnival that they bring to their work.”
The winner of the 2021 Turner Prize, Array Collective, is a group of 11 artists who create collaborative actions in response to socio-political issues affecting Northern Ireland.
Comprised of individual artists from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Array Collective playfully use performance, protest, photography, print, installation and video in their work to create a combination of artistic expression, direct action and public interventions in the city and online. The collective has been working together more actively since 2016, motivated by the growing anger around human rights issues happening at the time. Their intention is to reclaim and review the dominant ideas about religio-ethnic identity in Northern Ireland. Working as constituents or allies of the communities they protest with and make art about, Array Collective aims to create a new mythology for the growing number of people who do not prescribe to embedded sectarian dichotomies.
Array Collective comprises: Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Jane Butler, Alessia Cargnelli, Emma Campbell, Mitch Conlon, Clodagh Lavelle, Grace McMurray, Stephen Millar, Laura O'Connor and Thomas Wells. The collective is based and predominantly works in Belfast.
Annie Fletcher is the Director of IMMA. A noted International Curator, she joined IMMA from the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands where she was Chief Curator.
Annie has extensive leadership experience in the contemporary arts. In addition to her role as Chief Curator at Van Abbemuseum she is a tutor at de Appel, Amsterdam, the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) and the Design Academy Eindhoven, and regularly worked with art institutions around the world including the SALT Istanbul, New Museum, New York, and L’Internationale network and De Appel Art Centre, Amsterdam. In 2012 she was Curator of Ireland’s Contemporary Art biennale EVA International and is regularly called upon to sit on major International juries, including the Turner Prize in 2014 and the selection committee for the Irish Pavilion at Venice in 2016.
Born in Ireland Fletcher studied in Trinity College Dublin and started her career in the Douglas Hyde Gallery in 1994. She was Acting Head of Exhibitions in IMMA in 2001-2002 where she produced, among other projects, the seminal performance art weekend Marking the Territory. As a curator she is particular interested in how an encounter with art can generate a shared civic space and how, in today’s world, contemporary art can address complex ideas of time, space and participation in order to achieve resonance with the public.