Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Bronagh takes the ‘broad’ view of life in the East

Art is literally imitating life in a new exhibition by peaceline artist Bronagh Lawson.

For over two years the artist in residence at City East went to the newsagents on both sides of the Newtownards Road/Short Strand peace line on specific pre-determined dates and purchased all the newspapers for that day.

She produced a series of etchings based on local scenes and fragments from the papers: headlines, local /national grievances, some extreme, some personal, some amusing. These fragments, echoing the historical broadsheet, were then intuitively used as Chine Collé on an etching plate.

The resulting work, showing the changing mood of east Belfast, opens today, Thursday, August 11, at the Engine Room Gallery on the Newtownards Road.

Entitled the Ebb and Flow of East Belfast, the work shows Bronagh’s interpretation of the many changes in this area in the form of broadsheet inspired prints.

The term ‘Broadsheet’ derives from types of popular prints hundred years ago, usually just of a single sheet, sold on the streets and containing various types of material, from ballads to political satire. First published in 1618, they would talk about the life and energy of a specific place.

‘Chine Collé’, translated as Chinese collage, is a technique the Chinese invented for bringing areas of colour into a print. The printmaker collages while printing, using a special rice paste to keep the fragments in place.

“Nothing exists independent of its own surroundings, including language,” explains Bronagh.

“Newspapers in Northern Ireland inform the population of events, slanting news to different political persuasions. The chosen texts totally change the feel of each varied edition, just like one’s view of the world is rightly or wrongly changed or confirmed depending on what newspaper one reads.”

The Ebb and Flow of East Belfast exhibition will show for the first time the entire set of prints developed over the two years. The artist will be present for the opening this evening at 7pm in the Engine Room Gallery which opens Tuesdays to Saturdays at 10am-4pm.

Brought up in Portaferry and Strangford, Bronagh has a First class degree from Winchester School of Art and post-graduate experience from Parsons School of Art in New York City, USA.

Bronagh’s work was selected for the RUA annual exhibition 2009 and is held in a number of collections including the Ulster Museum.

Earlier this year she launched www.CreativeChangeNI.com, an interactive web site dedicated to change in Northern Ireland through the eyes of local visual artists.

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