For Threshold Gallery in October, artists Johanna Leech and Stuart Calvin bring lost local cultural landmarks back to life - recreating the grandeur and spectacle these buildings once embodied, and the light they poured onto Belfast’s streets. Their installation uses light and archival footage to create an immersive exploration of Belfast’s forgotten theatres and cinemas.

North Street was once one of the most illuminated streets in Belfast, and Leech and Calvin’s exhibition is only a few buildings away from the former site of the Alhambra Theatre (1871-1960s), a music-theatre-turned-picture-palace that was once the crown jewel of Belfast’s entertainment scene. The glamour has now changed to gloom, with only a handful of shops still trading on North Street.

The exhibition includes rare footage of The Alhambra Theatre when it was a luxury restaurant in the 1960s, along with footage of other lost Belfast cinemas, woven together with a soundtrack of music and memories from these storied venues.

For art lovers and history buffs alike in Belfast, Leech and Calvin’s installation is an unmissable opportunity to revisit the city’s cultural past. By turns whimsical and poignant, this one-of-a-kind immersive experience will transport you back in time and give you a glimpse into the golden age of Belfast’s theatre & cinema scene.

Archive footage is supplied by Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive supported by the Department for Communities. The artists thank Jen Alexander, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Martin Boyle, Rich Davis, Flax Arts Studios, Strand Arts Centre, Belfast Entries website and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Johanna Leech has a BA Hons in Fine and Applied Art (2007), University of Ulster. Using her collections of stories and objects to create drawings, photographs and installations she draws the viewer to see the commonplace afresh. In addition to her own practice, Leech often works collaboratively with artists such as Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell (UK/IRE), Stuart Calvin (UK/IRE) and Matthew Slaats (USA).

Stuart Calvin has an MFA (2016) from the University of Ulster. He was awarded a bursary from The Royal Society of British Sculptors and was the first recipient of the Annual Gerard Dillon Award.

Exhibition opening and drinks Thursday 5 October 6-9pm, Late Night Art Belfast
October days open - Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday

5 North Street

Threshold is a new street-view gallery space in the two window displays of Flax Art Studios at 7 North Street. Curated by Jennifer Alexander, it invites artists to exhibit in flux, exploring the presentation of their work in an evolving way, and offering audiences a changing site of encounter.

Threshold is an opportunity to respond to the uniqueness of this space -Belfast’s smallest and newest gallery, with its large window displays in the oldest part of the city.

Curator Biography

Jennifer Alexander is an independent curator working in Northern Ireland. She is concerned with creating exhibitions that provoke notions of process.

Jennifer is Audience Development Assistant at Golden Thread Gallery. She was Co-Director of Catalyst Arts and currently co-curates for Belfast’s annual Re-Vision Performing Arts Festival.

Hailing from Scotland, she is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Technical & Production Theatre Arts. She worked in theatres across Scotland, focussing on lighting and sound production, before relocating to Belfast six years ago. She completed an MFA (Distinction) at Ulster University in 2020 and is a studio artist at Flax Arts Studios.