“Sometimes it seems in Northern Ireland, that the fiercer the town, the more flamboyant the hanging baskets of flowers. Carrick has lots of them, swinging in the north wind”
Susan McKay, Carrickfergus, Source Magazine (2001)
Seen Fifteen is delighted to announce a solo show with Gareth McConnell as the next exhibition in the ongoing series, The Troubles Generation – a curatorial project which invites artists who grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles to shed new light on the impact of being brought up in an era of intense sectarian violence.
The title for the show, The Brighter the Flowers, The Fiercer the Town, is taken from an essay written by Susan McKay about McConnell’s early-career documentary series entitled Portraits & Interiors from The Albert Bar (1999), photographed in a loyalist bar in his hometown of Carrickfergus during the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement.
For this exhibition, McConnell positions the flower as a central motif. He invites the viewer to partake in a journey inspired by formative embodied experiences that oscillate between raves and funeral processions to present a disparate world of visual references made comprehensible using his signature hallucinogenic language.
“McConnell’s flowers. Coloured shadows. Slippage. De-registration. Screaming colour. Narcissistic, posturing, pop star tight-balls-trousers colours. Synaesthesia colours and intimate human perfumes. Vertiginous planes of colour as seen by the industrious bee on his or her daily commute to the flower convenience store. The engorged take-me-to-bed-and-fuck-me flower colours of sex. An explosion of petals in a Northern Ireland flower stall, many people brought to violent orgasm. Pleasure. Total. The floral. McConnell your florist”
Neal Brown, The Meaning of Flowers, 2022
The Brighter The Flowers, The Fiercer The Town is the second in a series of exhibitions at Seen Fifteen as part of the wider project, The Troubles Generation, generously supported by the Genesis Kickstart Fund. Looking ahead to a significant future moment in UK and Irish history with the 25th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement in 2023, the project seeks to examine the legacy of The Troubles from the viewpoint of artists born into its divided society and with lived experience of growing up during the conflict. Taking a phased approach to developing photographic projects and new writing, the ultimate ambition is to create a large-scale touring exhibition in 2023. Artists exhibiting at Seen Fifteen include Martin Seeds, Gareth McConnell and Audrey Gillespie.