Household Festival 2012

Various locations, South Belfast
22 – 24 August, 2012

Household Festival 2012 incorporated over 80 artists and over 30 locations and events that included performance art, installation, sculpture, painting, posters, sound art, gigs, foraging workshops, architectural tours, new and site specific pieces of theatre, film screenings, programmed talks, a free fry-up in the local park (feeding over 100 people), Japanese and Irish language classes and a protest party at Ormeau Park gates. Visitors found their way through the labyrinthine streets of the Ormeau with maps designed by Ormeau Road resident and graphic designer Tom Hughes. Each house was recognised by a cluster of balloons outside bearing the Household logo.

The project began as a response to the unique dynamic of the Ormeau Road, its increasingly large population of creative people and its village-like feel. The organisers/curators initially approached 10 ‘households’ of visual artists with the invitation to open up their homes as a space for public exhibition. After this received an enthusiastic response, the invitation was extended to musicians, actors, graphic designers, a tattoo artist, filmmakers, a psychologist, a chef, and other creative people living in the area. As publicity grew around the exhibition, the organisers began to receive requests to take part from local residents. These events were all included in the programme.

The domestic space has a significant, if niche, presence in the ever-expanding sphere of contemporary art discourse.  It is most notably discussed in the much-referenced exhibition Chambres D’Amis held in Ghent in 1986, in which residents of 58 privately owned houses hosted work by artists selected by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, under the curatorial direction of Jan Hoet. In recent years it has become more associated with a range of DIY initiatives that aim to challenge conventional exhibition spaces and actively reject the market-driven, hierarchical structures of the art world.  However, more than merely providing a convenient solution to exhibiting art in a period of recession, it is one of the most complex and unpredictable environments in which to make and encounter artwork. The rich potential of domestic spaces was what attracted five Belfast-based artists and curators (Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, Eoin Dara, Alissa Kleist, Kim McAleese, and Ciara Hickey) to organise Household, a contemporary art event held in artists’ homes in the Ormeau Road area of Belfast on the weekend of the 24th, 25th and 26th of August, 2012.

The participating households presented a broad range of works and events. Artists used the opportunity to consider their practice in relation to their home environment and local surroundings and explored the unique dynamic of the private sphere made public.  Many artists were drawn to the inherent drama and implied narratives that present themselves in abundance within the domestic space.

Household Festival in many ways functioned as a platform for agency for both visitors and participants alike.  It invited a neighbourhood community to experience a broad range of contemporary art practices, view work by many local artists, meet their neighbours, and expand and share their knowledge of the local area. With no funding, and only simple agreements drawn up between the artists and organisers, the success of the project essentially hinged on the trust between the visitor, and the resident of the home whose threshold they crossed. Visitors were reminded that they were ‘guests’ in people’s houses rather than anonymous strangers. The goodwill and generosity of everyone involved (including the visitors) was one of the most satisfying and valuable outcomes of the project. These outcomes have encouraged the development of new projects in 2013 that will further explore how people encounter contemporary art in the framework of hospitality and the alternative space.

Creative practitioners involved in Household Festival 2012 more…

Robert Anderson
Helen Tubridy
Charlotte Bosanquet
Ruaidhrí Lennon
Emma Campbell
Amy Brooks
Rob Hilken
Paul Murphy
Tonya McMullan
Colm Clarke
Una Hickey
Ricki O’Rawe
Jack Geary
Bronagh McCrudden
Gemma McMahon
Matthew Rodger
Rosaleen Hickey
Tom Hughes
Liam Crichton
Andrew Wood
Gus Sutherland
Michael Dzjaparidze
Una Monaghan
Ita Monaghan
Meadhba Monaghan
Catherine Devlin
Jenny Keane
Colin Darke
Mary Cowan
Mairéad Dunne
Ann Quail
Breda Lynch
Hugh O’Donnell
Martin Boyle
Cian Donnelly
Philip Hession
Sighle Bhreathnach Cashell
Alessandra Giacinti
Ruth Evans
Helen McDonnell
Jack Hughes
Susan Hughes
Dermot Hughes
Mary Hughes
Adam Bargoff
Josephine McCormick
John Macormac
Dorothy Hunter
Mark Caffrey
Clinton Kirkpatrick
Michael O’Halloran
Andrew Elder
Ben Behzadafshar
Claire Hall
Martin Carter
Miguel Martin
Claire Miskimmin
Lyndsey McDougall
Tim Weir
Darcie Graham
Hannah Casey
Rosie Burrowes
Marie Quiery
Sophie Aghajanian
Nick Boyle
Ryan Moffett
Margaret McCrum
Geraldine Boyle
Tim Farrell
Sean Walshe
Johanna Leech
Beth Milligan
Katrina Sheena Smyth
Jane Butler
David Mahon
Philip McCrilly
Hannah McBride
Mark DeConinck
Nathan Crothers
Heather Floyd & Nobuko Masumara

Funders, support and acknowledgement more…

This project was kindly supported by PLACE, Forum for Alternative Belfast, and Shelter NI.

Press and reviews more…

This is an edited extract from an article by Ciara Hickey for Paper Visual Art. Read the full version here.