Mediating Signals

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB


Julie Louise Bacon | Martin Boyle | Peter Glasgow | Helena Hamilton | Michael Hanna | Una Walker
Curated by Edy Fung

Flax Art Studios welcomes you to 2045, the world after technological singularity is reached. We are giving our human and non-human audiences a retrospective of the evolution of interpretants in art exhibitions. We are looking back at the time prior to the proliferation of quantum computers and brain–computer interfaces — when machines could not read our gestures, penetrate our minds and express ideas for us. How did we convey our messages? How was information transmitted?

This is an offline exhibition, showcasing works of Belfast-related artists on the rare occasion of the physical world in the previous UTV production studios, the setting of pre-internet mass media broadcasting.

Mediating Signals is in two parts: Tracing Algo-rhythm and Assigning Ambiguity, respectively running from 29 June to 3 July and from 6 to 10 July 2021.

Tracing Algo-rhythm

Julie Louise Bacon | Helena Hamilton | Una Walker

Exhibition runs | Tuesday 29th June to Saturday 3rd July 12-5pm |

Reception 1/7/2021 6-8pm (Belfast Late Night Art)

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

“Tracing Algo-rhythm” reflects on the speed and accuracy of machine application since the digital age. Showcasing works by Julie Louise Bacon, Helena Hamilton and Una Walker, the exhibition demonstrates scenarios of the digital trying to understand the physical, how our artificial allies have worked their ways to perfecting its reading upon characteristics and necessities of humanity. Underneath the visual and sonic signals surrounding satellites, database, 3D scanners in this exhibition, the exhibition enables us to imagine and feel information travelling through various times, geographical distances and scales.

Assigning Ambiguity

Martin Boyle | Peter Glasgow | Michael Hanna

Exhibition runs | Tuesday 6th July to Saturday 10th July 12-5pm |

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Before machines fill in where mankind falls short, what are the values of human flaws and limits in communication? To what degree can we embrace our misinterpretation, misguidance, and misuse between individuals, societies and culture? In the second of the serial exhibition Mediating Signals, “Assigning Ambiguity” will address the play of connotations, metaphors and understatements in the inception, process and product of meaning formation. Exhibiting works by Martin Boyle, Peter Glasgow and Michael Hanna, the show explores language expression, rhetoric and improvisation, endorses mistake-making, and celebrates gaps in representations and interpretations of meaning.

December 2020

The Occasional Man

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

The Occasional Man is an immersive film installation following the protagonist 'Duncan', a recently retired Glaswegian embarking on a failed attempt to become an actor. The audience will be guided through scenes from his disillusioned life, across several rooms of the former UTV Studios at Havelock House.

The piece is a collaborative effort from Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell (Belfast) and Richard Martin (Glasgow).

This project has been made in partnership with Flax Art Studios and Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive.

A Conversation During Lockdown

Flax Curator in Residence Edy Fung with Flax studio artist Shiro Masuyama

To a lot of us, 2020 had been a big year to look forward to. I had the pleasure to chat on Skype with Shiro Masuyama during lockdown, who as we all know introduced himself as the ‘only Japanese artist in Northern Ireland’ in a hyperbolic tone. Masuyama has been preparing an incredibly meaningful work with Alaskan farmers related to muskox and the Inuit tribe since last Autumn for inclusion in the Sapporo International Art Festival 2020, which is now cancelled unfortunately due to the pandemic. The artist would not have known at the time he created “​Tokyo Landscape 2020​” that it was going to have a greater symbolic aftermath than he initially thought.

One can see the influence of architectural thinking in Masuyama’s practice, which demonstrates a great consideration on how all of us are participating in society in a certain way, and on what role his art is taking to catalyse transformation to these social conditions. Previously, he has also realised "​Tama River Project​", Public Art at Tama River, Tokyo, 1996; "​Love Bench Project​”, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2006; “​Parky Party​”, MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna, Austria, 2006;​ “​New-style Bar 'All Alone’​”, Sendai, Japan, 2004, all of which are works that incorporated levels of social engagement. As I asked the artist how this pandemic would change the way the industry approaches social engagement art, he mentioned that these works of his can be presented again as they are already really fit for the purpose of social distancing under the current context. In his opinion, the most important skills an artist should have when working with communities (including indigenous peoples for ethnographic related work) is to respect their tradition, culture, society and to treat people with a modest attitude. He believes this respectful disposition will also reflect on your behaviour and communication with people.

‘What do you do when you crave Japanese food, living in Belfast?’ I also asked. He makes his own cuisine after he collects ingredients in Asian supermarkets. ‘But I really miss Ramen noodles sometimes as there are no good Ramen noodle restaurants in the island of Ireland.’
This is what I thought too, Shiro!

Gail Prentice, Director of Flax Art Studios discusses our new Sculpture Workshop and studio provision in Northern Ireland in Visual Artists Ireland sculpture-themed March/April issue 2020

Curators in conversation

Edy Fung with Julie Louise Bacon

| Thursday 19th March 2020 | 5pm
Green Room, Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Julie Louise Bacon, Artspace Sydney 2017, image courtesy of the artist.

Join us at Flax Art Studios next Thursday 19th March for a conversation between Flax curator Edy Fung and Arts Catalyst associate curator Julie Louise Bacon. The conversation will explore the role of digital technologies in shaping our experience of time and constructing impressions of the past and future. The event takes place in the context of Julie's current curatorial residency at Arts Catalyst and her broader work on The Habitat of Time research project.

Dr. Julie Louise Bacon is an artist, curator and writer. Her research explores the relationships between social, physical and mental life, as they are shaped through time and the interaction of technology and culture. She leads the international research project The Habitat of Time (2018-2021), in its fifth iteration at Arts Catalyst where she is associate curator. In addition to presenting performances and installations in festivals and galleries worldwide, she has curated large-scale events investigating the layered time of archives, media, histories and sites: Tone- A Meeting of Sound and Light 2014 , Signal-Art and Network Technologies 2012, and Per-forming the Archive 2007-8. Bacon has held executive, directorship and curatorial posts in art centres in England, Northern Ireland and Québec and acted as an advisor and consultant for organisations including European Capital of Culture Leeuwarden 2018, and the Arts Councils of Northern Ireland and Québec. She has published widely on contemporary art and cultural theory and is based in Sydney, where she is a Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design and a researcher at the National Institute for Experimental Arts.

This curators-in-conversation event is a prelude to the upcoming programme 'Curating Signals' - a dual exhibition to test speculative subjects with Flax studio artists.

Exhibition Launch

Our two international residents from Japan, Nozomi Suzuki and Yuji Ota will be showcasing work made while on their residency with Flax

| Thursday 27th February 2020 | 6-8pm
Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Nozomi Suzuki

Light of Other Days - ‘The Rings of Saturn - An English Pilgrimage’

Nozomi Suzuki (b. 1983) our international resident artist from Japan, is currently enrolled in a PHD at Tokyo University of the Art and has spent the last year in the UK thanks to a grant from the POLA Art Foundation for overseas research. She completed the Visiting Student Programme at University of the Arts London from October to December in 2019 before returning for the second part of her research residency at Flax Art Studios. Selected solo exhibitions: 2017 "Mirrors and Windows” (Omotesando Gallery, Tokyo); 2017 "Monologue of the Light” (rin art association, Gunma, Japan). Selected group exhibitions: 2018 "MOT Satellite 2018 FALL - To become a narrative” (Kiyosumi Shirakawa, Tokyo); 2017 "Photographs of Innocence and of Experience Contemporary Japanese Photography vol.14” (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo)

Suzuki’s work is predominantly research and object based, she uses photography to visualise the memory of traces of concealed light in daily life. In her work she aims to capture memories that are concealed in ordinary, everyday objects and use photographic principles attempting to make them visible. She creates works by applying photosensitive emulsion directly to things that have withstood the passage of time, using light and chemical reactions to physically fix traces of intimate memories onto physical objects.

In this exhibition, Suzuki attempts to visualise memories of objects which relate to vernacular culture in the UK. During her year in the UK she has researched the history of the things that she encountered on her journeys. In particular, she selected objects that have evolved with the invention of photography and from that have expanded human vision.
The exhibition’s title ‘Light of Other Days’ is borrowed from a novel written by Bob Shaw in 1966. Shaw a science fiction novelist from Belfast uses the idea of "slow glass" which traces the light of the past with delay.

‘The Rings of Saturn’ is borrowed from a novel by the German writer W. G. Sebald written in East England where he spent his later years. He describes the places he saw and the people he encountered, and discussed various episodes of history and literature on European imperialism with repeated derailments and associations. Suzuki references these contexts in her work.

Yuji Ota

Geopolitics of The Rabbit and The Hare

Yuji Ota (b. 1980) Japan is our current international resident artist.
He is a a visual artist based in Tokyo with an MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts. Ota’s work is predominantly object and video based. Selected exhibitions: 2018 "The Artists´ Kalevala, ECHOES FROM THE PAST | TOKYO | BERLIN | KERAVA, Kerava Art Museum, Finland, 2018 "Ongoing FES 2018" "Art Center Ongoing, Tokyo. 2017 ”Universal Nature -Rediscovery of Kalevala by 6 Contemporary Japanese Artist - " SEZON ART GALLERY, Tokyo 2016"Make a Kyougen" LAD GALLERY, Nagoya, 2017. "The Latest Work by Jackson Pollock” (AIKOKO Gallery, Tokyo)

Ota explores the theme of “untruth” or false information in his work. Ranging from a simple fib to a vicious lie, false Information has the power to influence our perception of reality, and so we have to be cautious about its authenticity. He holds an idea that all communication contains a kind of untruth in the form of fiction. By using untruth as a trigger to connect with people and the world, he searches for moments to reveal what can’t easily be seen.

He sees the potential of art as a trigger to stir things up to re-realise and re-define social values. He takes actions against the world by releasing his works and challenging the structure of society.

During Ota’s first part of his residency with Flax in 2019 he learned about the current state of the place and the people's lives, about the long history of religious and political conflict, as an outsider he grappled with the complex situation he found himself in.

During his research, he became interested in the differences between rabbits and hares on the Island of Ireland. Hares are native to the island of Ireland, and rabbits are said to have been brought to the island of Ireland by Normans in the 12-13th century. Hares appear frequently in Irish folk tales, but rabbits do not. The two species co-exist, but do not cross-bred. Ota has made work influenced by this research.

Edy Fung + Mark Buckeridge

Q + A

‘I don’t particularly like ‘real life’ social situations so I produce situations in the field of art that I find interesting.’

Flax Artist Mark Buckeridge on his upcoming exhibition 'Garage Song' with curator in residence Edy Fung.


Edy Fung: So excited to be in your studio to find out all the preparation going on for your next show, ​Garage Song​ at Scaffold Project Space on the 13-16 February 2020.
What should we ​expect​?

Mark Buckeridge: You can expect to see a three-piece band performing in the context of a suburban garage adjacent to a series of houses in North Belfast. The group will be surrounded by a set that I have designed and made including painting, posters and sculpture.

EF: The venue is a space renovated from a former garage. What is the role of architecture / spatial environment in your work?

MB: I often respond to buildings as they have a certain history and a perceived expectation of what the space should function as socially. I like to disrupt these expectations by placing artworks and performances that play with these architectural features.

EF: Why do social situations interest you, and how do we see those influences through the medium you use?

MB: I don’t particularly like ‘real life’ social situations so I produce situations in the field of art that I find interesting. Different mediums affect the audience in different ways, the viewer cannot encounter a medium without thinking of their own relationship with the medium itself and will often project their own experience and meaning onto this. I play with this when I make artistic situations.

EF: Give me 3 words that describe the process of your artistic production.

MB: 1, 2, 3

EF: You drink tea, you meditate and you talk about Yin and Yang. What does the word ritual mean to your art?

MB: Rituals are just a series of exercises I often use to situated myself in a place of not thinking.

EF: You've moved to Belfast after finishing your MFA at Sandberg Instituut. What hopes do you have about life and the artist community here in this city?

MB: Learn and share interesting conversations with people that exist in Belfast. Develop a small vegetable patch and continue making things.

F R A C A S | Sound Installation

Exhibition Launch | Thursday 23rd January 2020 | 6-8pm

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Flax Art Studios is delighted to host an exhibition featuring the work of recent graduate award winner Johanna Nulty. This pop up show is a presentation of new sound work developed by Nulty during her time at Flax Art Studios. Curated by Flax Curator In Residence, Emma Brennan.

Johanna Nulty is a visual artist based between Cavan and Belfast. Nulty has a BA in Fine Art from Institute of Technology Sligo and received her MFA from Ulster University. Nulty’s work is predominantly object based, exploring sound from mass produced materials and found objects. Her practice explores the possibilities of the subconcious movement of everyday material and often results in an amalgamation of audio videos and sound pieces.
In 2017 she had her first solo exhibition ‘A Portrait of this Region’ in Townhall Gallery, Cavan. Other notable exhibitions include ‘Photophobia Contemporary Moving Image Festival, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada, Flax Art Studios 30th Anniversary, Flax Art Studios, Havelock House, Belfast and Catalyst Audio Tracks 002 Resonance, Catalyst Arts, Belfast, 2019.

Flax Art Studios is now in it’s 30th year and continues to aim to significantly contribute to the regions visual art practice through studio provision and resources and is the only studio dedicated to sculptural practice in Northern Ireland. Flax acts as a hub for professional development, international networking opportunities; and fostering greater understanding through outreach and engagement activity.


| Saturday 19th October 2019 |

Flax Art Studios, Havelock house, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Flax Art Studios will be participating in Belfast Open Studios on Saturday 19th October from 11.00am to 5.00pm. Tours of the space will be taking place at 12 noon and 3.00pm. Hope to see you there!

Flax Art Studios 30th Anniversary Launch

Flax Art Studios is delighted to celebrate it’s 30th year with a launch, exhibition and tours at Havelock House on Thursday 26th September at 6pm-8pm.

Flax continues to aim to significantly contribute to the regions’ visual art practice through subsidised studio provision and resources, and is the only studio dedicated to sculptural practice and provision in Northern Ireland. Flax acts as a hub for professional development, international networking opportunities; and fostering greater understanding through outreach and engagement activity.

Flax Art Studios has recently moved premises to Havelock House former home of UTV in the city centre location of Ormeau Road. Havelock House sits on a 1.78-acre site and has almost 60,000sq ft of office style studios, production space and industrial workshop. We are delighted to have the opportunity to have full use of this space which has such an illustrious history steeped in Belfast’s heritage.

Flax Art Studios provides space to some of the most exciting artists in Northern Ireland including: Declan Byrne, Alastair MacLennan, Elvira Santamaria, Sinead O’Donnell, Deirdre McKenna, Barbara Freeman, Rebecca Smyth, Johanna Leech, Julie Lovett, Liam Crichton, Catherine McLaughlin, Conan McIvor, Barry Mulholland, Marta Dyczkowska, Jacqueline Holt, Shiro Masuyama, Erin Hagan, Joey O’Gorman, Niamh Seana Meehan, Isabel English, Martin Boyle, Justine McDonnell, Una Walker, Tony Hill, Helouise O’Reilly, John Rainey, Stuart Calvin, Gary Shaw, Jane Butler, Peter Richards, Michael Hanna, Lesley Cherry, Hugh O’Donnell, Helena Hamilton, Jan McNeill, Rachel Campbell Palmer, Mark Buckeridge and Dorothy Hunter. In our Graduate/Emerging artist hub we have: Silvia Mandic, Katherine Paisley, Gemma Hamilton, Chris O’Rourke, Siobhan Kelly, Susan Hughes, Claire Fox, Alexandra Brunt, Philip Keers, Brennagh Meehan, Leoni Hill and our Graduate Resident – Johanna Nulty.

We have been developing our unique space to provide a fabrication workshop, wood workshop, plaster/casting workshop, outdoor yard, photographic/film studios and voice recording booths. Flax Art Studios workshop is the only facility of it’s kind in Northern Ireland and we aim to make it accessible to all artists in Northern Ireland.

Exhibition Launch


Exhibition Launch | Thursday 29th August, 2019 | 6-9pm
Flax Art Studios, Havelock House, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

Flax Art Studios is delighted to host an exhibition featuring the work of Eva Avenue, multimedia artist from the USA, with her most recent edition of The Art Show. Hobo Vodka tells the confessional and hysterical true story of a woman called Marcella’s daily life growing up in New Mexico. As part of a ten-year retrospective documenting her life in the States, Avenue has used methods of collage, writing and painting to publish these stories into monthly installments of The Nightly Noodle Monthly.

Avenue is an inter-disiplinary artist who engages with a variety of media to tell stories. Born in Amsterdam, Avenue spent her early childhood in Portugal before moving to Florida where she studied visual arts studies at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Pete, FL. She later developed her practice at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts in NYC and is currently based in Flax Art Studios, Belfast. In addition to her artistic practice, Avenue is also a musician and writer.

Hobo Vodka: The Art Show takes place in Studio 2 the former UTV studio now Flax Art Studios, Havelock House. The exhibition tells a story through audio, video, print, collage, zines, found objects and painting, it draws parallels between Belfast and New Mexico in a poignant and sometimes satirical way. Curated by Flax Art Studios Curator In Residence, Emma Brennan.

Exhibition launch

Glasshouse V

Shankill Library, 298 Shankill Road, BELFAST

Exhibition Runs: 4th April – 31st May 2019 Preview: Thursday 4th April 2019 at 6.30pm.

This is the fifth year that Flax Art Studios one of Belfast’s most celebrated and established visual artist studio groups. The Glasshouse Gallery at the Shankill Library presents a wonderful opportunity for Flax Art Studio group to have a visible presence in the city where it has been operating since 1989, firstly on the Crumlin Road, and now in Havelock House (former home of UTV). Flax Art Studios operate as one organisation providing a portfolio of subsidised studio provision for the needs of emerging, mid-career and established artists. Particularly those working with sculpture, installation and new/time-based media.

Flax Art Studios was founded in 1989 by a group of recent graduates seeking space to make large-scale sculpture and installation artworks. Flax Art Studios is committed to developing and strengthening the visual arts sector in Belfast, and has provided 30 years of best practice work at the cutting edge of contemporary art. Flax Art Studios provides long term studio space for up to sixty artists, graduate resident hub, and international residents. The main aim is ‘to contribute significantly to the region’s visual art practice through studio provision and resources; acting as a hub for professional development, international networking opportunities; and fostering greater understanding through outreach and socially engaged activity.’ Flax Art provides space to some of the most exciting artists in Northern Ireland. These artists have been integral to the artistic development of Belfast, not only through their personal practice, but through the organisations they have helped to build - for example Catalyst Arts, Bbeyond, Golden Thread Gallery and Ps2, and through the outreach, educational and development projects that they are involved in, showcasing Belfast’s unique identity.

The exhibition is not themed, it presents recent work from the artists that has not been shown in this way before. This emphasises the continuous studio process of making, testing and experimenting, and this also reflects the nature of the studio organisations as a space for individual practice. The span of work ranges across painting, video, sound, performance, sculpture, installation and public art, it is a rare opportunity to see the work of studio members work together, and to see the links, disjunctions, shared concerns and differences in their approaches to art practice.

60-120 Breaths (solo performances)

as part of Humanism NI Process & Late Night Art Belfast

Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Flax Art Studios, Havelock House, Ormeau Road, BT7 1EB

The Northern Irish society has experienced significant advances on equality matters and reconciliation after the Troubles. However, in an uncertain and volatile economic context worldwide, equality and respect for human rights must be cultivated on an ongoing basis. Art has a very important role to play in the realisation to this: influencing social customs, family and social relationships and inspiring individual in the interest of the collective. Performance art is based on human acts and behaviour, and has played a important role in the recognition of human diversity and the reinvention of forms of coexistence in many societies. Elvira Santamaria