Household Festival 2013 was a programme of events and activities delivered by Household, creative practitioners and residents that encouraged new experiences of arts activity in Belfast. It catered to a community of people keen to invite new audiences to view contemporary work in their homes and neighbourhoods and challenged established notions of public and private space. Over a three-day period in August 2013, the organisation invited over 100 creative practitioners at more than 50 domestic, public and alternative locations around the Ormeau Road area in South Belfast to present a variety of outputs to local and visiting audiences. This area of the city is increasingly recognised as an area defined by its dynamic resident creative community. However, there are no contemporary gallery spaces around the Ormeau Road in which these practitioners can exhibit, and they remain largely invisible to a general public. For Household Festival 2013, artists’ houses became makeshift venues and urban public spaces were temporarily transformed into open platforms, unhindered by the demands and restraints of galleries and institutions.
Work made for the festival included exhibitions, dance, music, theatre, dinners, workshops, performances, talks, demonstrations, poetry, screenings, tours, and interventions. To create a cohesive, easily negotiated event, Household provided recognisable and consistent branding and an app to unite the myriad projects that were shown during the festival.
Outdoor events included a dance performance by Maeve McGreevy, accompanied by Tom Hughes on cello at the Ormeau Park Bowling Green; the façade of a makeshift house outside the Ormeau Park gates constructed by Martin Carter and members of the Lawrence Street Workshops that hosted DJ sets and protested against the restricted use of public spaces; the mysterious ‘historical right-of-way’ sign that appeared next to a newly-created gap in the Ormeau Park railings (the metal bars in the fence were temporarily removed, resulting in an opening that people could pass through); Colm Clarke’s sculptural installation in an abandoned, fenced-off building site; and Deirdre McKenna’s large scale collage on the gable end of her home.
Indoor interventions included Relocation, an installation by Jane Butler of a strip of shimmering material suspended over a bath refracting the light from an adjacent window in order to illuminate one half of the room in a soft green glow and cast a pink hue over the other; Unofficial Secret, an audio installation by Dorothy Hunter of recordings made at the east-facing hatch at the abandoned Teufelsberg listening station in Berlin; and Surrender Yourself, a project developed by Tonya McMullan and Colm Clarke inviting their neighbours to exhibit a selection of objects which represent them in some way.
To contextualise how space in the city is used and to critically examine the connotations of the term ‘home’, Household organised a programme of talks in the Ormeau Road Library. Speakers included Declan Hill from the Forum for Alternative Belfast, who spoke about the distribution of green space and trees in the city and how this can affect inner city neighbourhoods and their perceived ‘value’. Ray Cashell, Chair of Shelter NI, discussed housing issues and tenants’ rights in rented property. Lynne McMordie and fellow staff members, as well as service users from the Welcome Organisation, a charity addressing the needs of people who are homeless or sleeping rough in the city, spoke about their experiences of homelessness, makeshift housing and what it means to be without the security of a home. A discussion between Eugenie Dolberg – a curator and photojournalist who, as part of the project Open Shutters Iraq, lived and worked with a group of Iraqi women for three months – and Belfast Exposed Director Pauline Hadaway concluded the programme of talks. Their conversation focused on private and public space, and how ‘the private’ and ‘the public’ are jeopardised in both Middle-Eastern and Western society.
Pollen Studios & Gallery
Brian J Morrison
Katrina Sheena Smyth
Ann and Ken Bartley
Emma Jane Mc Aleese
Catherine Mc Kenna
Satsumas Aural Conditioning
Forum For Alternative Belfast
Table Tennis Ulster
Aisling O’Beirn CROW
Lyndsey McDougall &
Skinnybone Theatre: Nicholas Boyle & Bronagh McCrudden
Lynne McMordie & guests
Fellow Bicycle Co. (Andrew Elder, Patrick McQuiston, Jon T Parks) & Thomas McConaghie
Lawrence Street Workshops
Ann & Ken Bartley
Ormeau Bowling Club
To deliver the festival Household partnered with PS2 and was consequently supported by some funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Small Grants programme.
In addition, the organisation secured private sponsorship and in-kind support from local businesses and organisations including Michel’s Fruit and Vegetables, Lavery’s, Soul Food Cafe, Bread and Banjo, Graffitti Restaurant, Cafe Le Petit Ormeau, McCreery’s Meats, The Errigle Inn, Ballynafeigh Post Office, Ballynafeigh Community Centre, Table Tennis Ulster, Ormeau Library, Ormeau Bowling Club, Forum For Alternative Belfast, Flaxart studios, The Pavilion, Welcome Organisation, and Belfast Exposed Photography.
This project would not be possible without the generosity and support of all participating artists, organisations, residents, speakers and volunteers.
Images courtesy of Simon Mills, Stuart Calvin, and the artists.
Identity and graphic design by Tom Hughes
App design by Ruaidhri Lennon