‘Arctic Circus’, the much anticipated solo exhibition by Belfast artist Rita Duffy, officially opened at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Banbridge today.
The exhibition presents new work inspired by Rita’s three-month residency in Dalsåsen, Norway. Situated 150km north of Bergen, this residency, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, followed on from Duffy’s stay at the Kysten Arts Centre at Tromsø in the Arctic Circle in the winter of 2010.
Duffy’s extended stay in Dalsåsen allowed her to continue her connection with Norway and the North, resulting in a fascinating body of work which includes watercolours, oils, charcoal drawings, soap sculptures and an installation made from seal skin.
The title ‘Arctic Circus’ makes reference to both the Arctic Circle and the famous Duffy’s Circus which the artist recalls visiting as a child. Other influences include Norwegian legends, the mythology of the Sami people who are indigenous to Northern Scandinavia, and links with Scottish and Irish stories of Selkies - mythical creatures who shed their seal skins and become human.
The exhibition was opened by the Dublin-based curator and critic Catherine Marshall who spoke enthusiastically about Duffy’s work and the important position she occupies within Irish art.
Gallery Curator, Dr Riann Coulter, said: “We are delighted to host this exhibition of new work by one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated artists. Considering the local links with Captain Francis Crozier who went in search of the North West Passage some 164 years ago, it is particularly fitting that Rita Duffy has brought her ‘Arctic Circus’ exhibition to Banbridge.
The F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio has an exciting line up of events planned to coincide with this exhibition including a talk by Rita Duffy on Thursday 8 March and a lecture by Stephen Cameron entitled ‘Titanic: Local Connections’ on Thursday 26 April.”
The exhibition, which is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, will continue until Saturday 28 April 2012. Admission is free.
F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio
200 Newry Road, Banbridge, Co. Down BT32 3NB
T: 028 4062 3322