Belfast Telegraph

Visual Art 26/2/10

By Liz Baird

After the huge disappointment of the Art and Design Retrospective I was fairly curious, and a little dubious, about the latest exhibition in the Ormeau Baths Gallery — The Lives of Spaces — but was pleasantly surprised.

This show began in November 2008 as an installation at the 11th Architecture Biennale in Venice and contains nine film-based projects, each exploring the central role of space in society.

This is one of those exhibitions that needs to be seen, as it really does trigger a new way of thinking about our surroundings, the spaces we live in and the impact they have on our individual and collective lives.

I was fascinated by the model of the Cultural Building for the Irish Language, designed by architects O’Donnell and Tourney, and currently under construction in Londonderry. I found it interesting, complex and inventive.

Then there is a ‘time cut and continuous sound and vision’ presentation, which examines the same spaces both when empty and then fully functioning. This introduces two very different dynamics, which must be considered in the design. A space must ‘work’, its design must assist its function and that function must be considered in the design.

I was impressed too by the community centre designed for a deprived area of Tallaght, in west Dublin.

The exhibit examines ‘the character and purpose and the fledgling life’ of this relatively new construction — what it adds to the community, what a difference it makes to those living in the area.

I must confess I went in to the exhibition expecting to find the whole thing dull, uninteresting and boring but came out completely won over.

I found it stimulating, and enlightening, making me consider just how many facets there are to architectural design and how many aspects need to be considered.

Also in the show are a number of photographs by Fiona Hackett who was asked by the curators to capture the unique atmosphere of the exhibition in its original home in Venice.

Events also associated with Lives of Spaces include performances on March 23-25, a major symposium with a wide range of speakers on March 25, and a series of lunchtime lectures, the next by Simon Walker on March 4.

For further information on all events contact OBG at

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