“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.
A Genesis Kickstart Fund project, supported by the Genesis Foundation
ABOUT GARETH McCONNELL
Gareth McConnell is a London based photographer with diverse interests and many styles of approach. His work as a fine artist has been given recognition in monographs, cover features, and articles including from Steidl/Photoworks, Frieze, and Aperture. His fine art prints are widely collected. In the past he has worked as a documentary photographer for the New York Times, and served high end fashion – Vogue Homme, Pop, and AnOther, and clients like Dior, Gucci and Chloe. He has worked in the music industry with artists including Sia, Disclosure and Ivan Smagghe. McConnell has actively instigated non-commercial projects with other artists and writers, publishing them under his imprint Sorika, and has co-curated a show at London’s ICA, and talk events at the ICA and Tate Modern. McConnell has shown at many galleries and fairs, including Carl Freedman Gallery, Frieze Art Fair, Kasmin Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Photographers’ Gallery. He is represented in significant private and public collections. He increasingly values a direct relationship with audiences, through his websites and social media platforms.
OPENING WEEKEND LATE VIEWS
Friday 13th May
6pm to midnight, as part of Peckham 24 Festival 2022
Saturday 14th May
Late view until 8pm, as part of London Gallery Weekend 2022
THE TROUBLES GENERATION: IN CONVERSATION
Gareth McConnell with Neal Brown and Sarah Allen
Wednesday 8th June, 7.30pm
Friday to Sunday, 11-5pm
And by appointment