Since 'Letter to America - the Podcast' is shortlisted by the Irish Blog Awards in the 'Arts and Culture' category we here at LTA thought it was a good idea to hot-foot it to the only real gallery in town: The Ormeau Baths Gallery on Ormeau Avenue - right around the corner from us here in the heart of Belfast's Red-Light District.
I went in - the gallery was deserted - and admired the installation above. I wandered into the office to ask if it was alright to take photos and inquired about the 'Kitchen Piece' - told them I thought the gallery was really picking up - really solid work on display.
Imagine my surprise when they told me that they were hiring the gallery out for some sort of 'Home/Office Product Show' and that the piece I liked was just a 'Store Display' item! Well, I laughed at my own foolishness as you can imagine - and also really liked the piece below as well!
But here's the thing Dear Listener. As I was talking to the two very nice ladies in the office, the director of the gallery, Hugh Mulholland, locked the doors of the gallery and informed me that I was the last official visitor to the place - after 10 years the Ormeau Baths Gallery was closing down!
Apparently all funding by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland was withdrawn several days before and the gallery had no choice but to shut its doors for good.
Now, I don’t know any of the individuals involved - either at the gallery or at the Arts Council so I have no opinion as to the legitimacy of the withdrawl of funds and the closure - but am stunned that this leaves practically no venue for contemporary art here in Northern Ireland.
I feel it's my duty at here at LTA to report on this issue and will try to speak to the folks involved - as well as document the silent vigil at the gallery tomorrow at 1pm.