Yes folks, the Ormeau Baths Gallery has re-opened. Long-time listeners of the Podcast know that I've been covering this story for a while. Previous LTA posts on this subject can be found here:
Now, I'm not going to go into detail in this post about the nature of the closing of the Gallery and the subsequent scandal involving the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Gallery Director Hugh Mullholland - it's covered in the above posts and peoples replies to the posts.
As for yesterday evening's 'Private View' marking the re-opening of the Gallery and the protest outside deriding the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's actions - well, I've got so much to say that I'm going to save it for this Monday's podcast: LTA Chapter 39 - Only Art Can Save Us. In the meantime here's some lovely snaps I took of the occasions.
In the above photo you see some of the protesters soaking up the evening sun. It was a great day to hang out and sip wine in the cool breeze - they weren't allowed inside, unlike myself Dear Listener, but you know, it was hot and stuffy inside the Gallery so the protesters shouldn't feel bad about missing out.
Above is the informational flyer handed out by those not happy with the Arts Council.
The Roll of Honour.
Good times had by all; hanging out by the Van.
A glimpse inside said Van.
The protesters had great hair.
The BBC was at the Gallery to cover the events. This cameraman goes by the name of Tony Davison - he's shot four series I've directed for the Beeb - if you ever meet up, get him to tell you his stories of serving in the South African Navy.
I make my way inside the Gallery.
There was a heavy security presence - it's a shame the protesters were not allowed inside. If only there was some way we could unite these various factions of the Art World here in Belfast.
These two ladies at the front desk are Marlyn and Ali. When I asked Ali about the protesters her face froze in a rictus grin - she really didn't want to talk about it. But the ice broke when I cracked a few jokes and it turns out she's visited this website before - so she knows I'm actually an OK guy.
I watched this young man in action. He didn't have an invite but blagged his way in. He introduced himself to me - it turns out he's a Letter to America fan and has listened to almost all of the Podcasts, God bless him. His name is Phil O'Kane - visit his Photoblog Iced-Coffee.
Inside the Gallery people were wearing mostly cream.
Some say that the Northern Ireland Art Scene is run by a shadowy cabal. I don't know if this is true - but if so I'd like to think it's these guys. Don't they look like they pull the strings?
This jolly looking fellow is Ian Davidson, the Arts Development Officer for Visual Arts and Crafts of ACNI. He gave quite an interesting interview for the show.
Hmmm....maybe these guys are the shadowy cabal.
Oh crap - they've seen me. I'd better skedaddle out of here.
Ahh...back to the safety of the outdoors.
Hey who's this woman in Pink inside the protester's Van? Why it's none other than Roisin McDonough - Chief Executive of the Arts Council!
Maybe there's hope that the two sides can reconcile. I'd like to think so Dear Listener.
Tune in this Monday for the Arts in Northern Ireland special in which we'll hear from the ACNI as well as from Daniel Jewesbury, speaking on behalf of the protestors.
UPDATE: Representatives from the OBG Protest and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland can be heard on THIS PODCAST.