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Renaissance man Mark Garry stages his most significant show yet

Songs and the Soil by Mark Garry, MAC, Belfast, Until April 19.


Haunting: A piece from Mark Garry’s Songs and the Soil

Haunting: A piece from Mark Garry’s Songs and the Soil

Haunting: A piece from Mark Garry’s Songs and the Soil

Songs and the Soil is across all of the MAC's galleries and uses space elsewhere, as appropriate.

The space in question is extremely large, and artist Mark Garry uses it to its full effect in support of his work.

This is a wonderful show - complex yet subtle and intimate.

Sligo-born Garry is a renaissance man, in that he can work across multiple formats, including music, to present his concepts. He does exactly that in this show.

Developed over the last two and a half years, Songs and the Soil is his most significant exhibition yet.

The artist is perhaps best known for his thread drawings. These fragile, time-consuming and painstakingly created installations are made up from tightly spaced bands of coloured threads which appear to come from a high fixed point and are almost invisible until a ray of light plays across them. Then they appear as a kaleidoscope of colour, stretching above your head like a dragonfly's wings. They hover and pulsate with a beautiful, translucent glow and were specifically designed to respond to the architecture of the MAC's Tall Gallery.

On the ground floor, Garry has a new film work running, called An Lucht Siuil (The Walking People).

The narrative follows the structure of a classical Greek tragedy.

Some of the narrative is in English and some in Shelta (De Gammon/Cant), the language of the Irish traveller.

The songs in the film, written by the artist, act as a poetic response to Ireland's complex relationship between land and ownership, and the relationship between the peoples who share this land.

The upper gallery is a delight of sound and image. It's an immersive experience which is, as the MAC says, "made up of a series of inter-reliant sonic, sculptural and pictorial elements".

Describing the space, the MAC adds: "The gallery will be transformed into an indoor meadow where hundreds of dried flowers are held within small porcelain vessels, accompanied by an ambitious six-hour musical composition made up of birdsong, using field recordings from a variety of locations close to where the artist lives."

For me, the upper space was a delight and offered so many opportunities to question our relationship with the soil.

Belfast Telegraph