Aisling O’Beirn, 279 Albertbridge Road, billboard location no. 16

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‘Liaka in Pre Flight Mode’ from the seriesSome European Scientific Endeavors, is a reworking of a famous photograph of Liaka, the first living creature to be launched into space and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Liaka, meaning “Barker,” had been a stray on the streets of Moscow and was propelled into the heavens by the Soviet Union in 1957

Liaka travelled more than 900 miles, (nearly 1,500 km) above the Earth – at an orbiting speed of five miles (8km) a second, taking one hour and 42 minutes to circle the Earth. Scientists studied the data sent back in order to observe the effects of solar radiation and weightlessness on living organisms. Liaka died from overheating within hours of the launch, though this was not made public until 2002. A report circulated at the time stated that she died on the sixth day when the oxygen supply on board was scheduled to run out, the Soviet government also claimed she was euthanized prior to oxygen depletion. There is a small monument to Liaka near the military research facility in Moscow that trained her for space travel, the monument is of a dog standing on a rocket.

The Liaka of O’Beirn’s image receives the highest concentration of lines and detail, while the components and structure of the cabin are less defined. This graduated retreat from recognisable shapes such as the dog, to the less specific boundaries of Liaka’s pod, makes the white space around the image seem to leak in, threatening to overpower the strokes of the drawing. The title itself is telling, its use of ‘mode’ to describe an unwitting animal posed for a photograph in the cabin it will certainly die in, perhaps alludes to the clash that can occur between morals and progress in the pursuit of science. O’Beirn’s image captures the approaching oblivion of an animal that as far as we know was incapable of comprehending the space we sent her into. We who could begin to comprehend it, propelled her into all that vacancy and silence. Perhaps from way up there Liaka was able to look back at us.

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September
The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

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Gemma Lalor, Central Station, billboard location no. 39

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AKA Magically Overactive Imagination, Lalor captures themes of expiration, adolescence and perpetual circularity in ‘Nanny News’. Text taken from newspaper headlines punctuate the piece, while the character at its center, with a head that resembles a rolled up newspaper, wears a zombified expression. The impression this mixture of direct and indirect communication leaves is one that bemoans a sense of regurgitated news and therefore, the recycled lives lead by the people who inspired the headlines. Whether this is the media’s fault or ours remains somewhat ambiguous, but the dependency is ever present. The raised street on which the central character walks tells of a world that has become less a stage and more a loop, yet splashes of originality still pierce the recycled film perpetuated by hype and the scandal of fresh ink; the walking stick that resembles a candy cane, the purple rinsed figure that leans on it, the quarter lengths trousers and stripy socks she wears offer some hope, even if we’ve seen it all before. 

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

Clinton Kirkpatrick, Beersbridge Road, billboard location no. 33

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‘Boxed’ is a woodcut print that describes captivity. Kirkpatrick states that the positioning of the character is both uncomfortable and deliberate, suggesting that the folded figure could be hiding or self-imprisoned. There is a tension here between the motivation and the impact of the confinement on the figure. The image stirs parallels with an internal conflict akin to Jekyll and Hyde, the wide-open eyes convey a sense of alarm but not panic, the entrapment is interpretable as an expression of a past guilt or future potential shame. The figure’s muscular form and yet pliable shape, further conveys a sense that the figure is self-imprisoned or at least compliant, as it is not straining or resisting. The warm reds and yellows convey a sense of as yet unharnessed power, the green about the eyes, lips and coiled flesh, suggests a rationality to the rawer reds, yellows and thick blacks. The figure seems to understand the dimensions of the box it inhabits, the box has become a chrysalis of sorts, but will the figure pupate or remain pubescent.

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

 

Brendan Jamison, Central Station, billboard location no. 39

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Teufelsberg Field Station Berlin 1963-2013’ is constructed from Lego by sculptor Brendan Jamison. Teufelsberg is German for ‘Devil’s Mountain’ and is a hill in Berlin that rises eighty meters above the Brandenburg plain. The hill, just like Jamison’s piece is manmade, while Jamison’s is from bright plastic blocks, the Devil’s Mountain was created from the rubble of Berlin following the Second World War. Jamison’s structure is of a cross-section of the Cold War spy station known as Teufelsberg Field Station. Built on the mound in 1963, it was shared between British and American Intelligence Services until its decommission in 1991. The positioning of its radomes on this mound permitted unparalleled surveillance of Communist East Germany on the opposite side of the Berlin Wall. The five white radomes installed were so powerful that conversations could be listened to from over 300 kilometers away, making it the most famous listening station in the world of espionage.

Jamison’s sculpture translates a structure of massive invasive capability into a bright miniature that is small enough to be handled by a child. With intrusion and eavesdropping no longer a threat, the feat of engineering and design that generated Teufelsberg Field Station’s success can be marvelled at.  Furthermore, its representation in cross section form is a fitting unmasking of this prying, yet hidden station.   

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

Andrew Haire, Central Station, billboard location no. 39

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Jökulsárlón’ unveils the kinetic energy that radiates from the crisp wasteland of Iceland’s glaciers. The title, which translates as ‘glacial river lagoon,’ is also the name of the deepest lake in Iceland, an icescape of marching icebergs, hooks and twists of lucent ice, and bodies of glassy water.

Haire’s painting is from his series entitled ‘Plastic Landscapes,’ which were produced after visiting Iceland in 2012. His painting is composed from layers of translucent acrylics that blanket each other to build a rich, textured and surreal impression of a landscape that the artist describes as ‘extra-terrestrial.’ Haire has captured the aura of one of Iceland’s natural wonders, a wilderness he has enchanted with flecks and streaks of colour that oscillate in this immaculate tundra.

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

Colin Darke, 242 Newtownards Road, billboard location no. 1

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‘Apples at the Foot of a Tree’ is inspired by the work of Gustave Courbet. His portraits of apples were produced while incarcerated for his part in the Paris Commune, the uprising that took place in 1871, and ended with the massacre of 30,000 people by government troops. Many of the apples captured in Gustave’s paintings were beginning to decay, it is thought that they act as a metaphor for his fallen Communards.

Darke’s re-imagining of these strange fruits includes the transcription of the last, rhetorical proclamation published by the Commune. Darke carves the words they summoned in their last breath into the apples at the foot of his tree. The hoard of fallen apples in Darke’s piece suggest that they are not an autumnal crop, instead an unnatural and premature harvest, reminiscent of the massacre, a waste that will soon feed the tree at whose roots they have fallen.

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Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH

Gabrielé Ganžaité, 142a Castlereagh Road, billboard location no. 30

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She Lost Herself For Two Seconds’ is a digital mixed media piece that plays with the perspective of words, images and material. This minimalist black ink drawing, with its rounded edges and hesitant hand, is set to a sentimental advertisement style, the pastel colours leave a soft impression, while the meaning of the text ‘She Lost Herself For Two Seconds,’ ripples out to form fresh layers of interpretation on this deceptively modest piece.

Click here to view the map of  all our billboard locations.

Artwork available to purchase from the Engine Room Gallery from the 5th of September

The Engine Room Gallery
414 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 4HH