Day 8 – Queen’s University

IMG_1174This morning started off with a great tour of Queen’s University, only a few short blocks from our guesthouse. We met our guide in the Queen’s Welcome Centre inside the beautiful Lanyon Building, designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and opened by Queen Victoria. It was built in 1849 in Tudor Gothic style with red brick and Giffnock sandstone dressings. We saw the Great Hall, the Canada Room, the Council Chamber and the quadrangle, and a fabulous exhibit in the Naughton GalleryOut of the Ordinary: Contemporary Visions of the Avant-Garde.

From the site –

The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s welcomes eight local contemporary artists for the first time through a collective re-thinking of works by female artists of the Spanish and Latin American avant-garde. Surrealism began as a cultural movement in Paris in the 1920s, which experimented with ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination to reconcile the unconscious with rational life.

The exhibition, curated by Dr Tara Plunkett of the School of Modern Languages, takes as its starting point artists who explored the Surrealist ideals from the female perspective, including English born Leonora Carrington, Spanish-Mexican Remedios Varo, Argentinean Norah Borges and Spanish painter Maruja Mallo. From Parisian Surrealism to Mexican post-Surrealism, each varied greatly in their style, tone and medium to express their personal dialogue with the avant-garde.

IMG_1149Featuring work by Martin Boyle, Hannah Casey, Helen McDonnell, Lyndsey McDougall, Brian Morrison, Holly Nedeljkovic and academic Dr Ricki O’Rawe in collaboration with film-maker Stuart Sloan. Each will produce pieces to transform the gallery into a vibrant and eclectic celebration of the beauty Surrealists found in ‘the chance encounter between an umbrella and a sewing machine on a dissecting table’. The malleability of the avant-garde aesthetic gives each artist the freedom to push boundaries and explore issues as diverse as mysticism, dark humour and play.

Surrealism-founder Andre Breton’s idea of the ‘communicating vessels’ will be realised as a dialogue is opened up between academics and practitioners; between generations of artists past and present; all the while bringing public attention to women artists of the avant-garde and to local, contemporary artists who have responded to their work. Curated by Tara Plunkett.

IMG_1163These two pieces are from Holly Nedeljkovic’s work, The Opening, Time to Go (2014), embroidery, acrylic and appliqué on cotton. The pieces incorporate –

“… a contemporary use of painting. Inspired by Leonara Carrington’s explorations of desire and dark humour with a constant testing of femininity and sexuality, The Opening, Time to Go questions sexuality, feminity, emotion, memory and loss, all underscored with a hint of humour.”

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Next, we got a brief tour of the new library (built with lottery funds in 2012) – students there were crazed studying for final exams. And, we finished up our tour with a peek inside the gorgeous CS Lewis Room – there’s a replica of the wardrobe door used in the feature film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the carpets and central table are also based on Narnia themes.

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