Artist and thinker Belinda Loftus from Dundrum has opened an exhibition in the Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick.
And she has also launched her recently published Book of Hours which combines a selection of drawings not in the exhibition, and accompanying texts.
Belinda set herself a task of painting one work a week for a year for the Book of Hours and succeeded. ‘Financial Climate‘ is a mixed media exhibition.
Belinda said: “The exhibition is an exploration of the relationships between the natural world and the worlds of high finance and big business. That is the reason why I have used the Worldbank display as part of the experience. high finance and big business by working over such images as advertisements and stock market reports contained in newspaper pages, and computer print-outs charting the worldwide stock market flash crashes caused by the practice of high-speed, algorithm-based financial trading.
“Many of the works in Book of Hours very much reflect my experience of living in Dundrum, County Down, and relationship with the natural order and people.
“The book really started out as a response to the Books of Hours, popular amongst the laity in the Middle Ages. These books contained an abridged version of prayers – mostly psalms – sung or said by members of the religious orders at different points in the day and different seasons of the year. So this work tries to captivate some of the rhythm of the religious ethos of that age. These books would have been adorned with images of the natural world and the occupations of the different seasons which helped illustrate the calendar which formed the opening section in the Books of Hours.
“It is a a year-long compilation of drawings and texts exploring our place in the world. This will be on sale at the Down Arts Centre, and it is intended that it will be available during the exhibition.
“I therefore saw the drawing in the book as a response to the natural world and rhythms of the religious life I experience. But there were many other eclectic influences from world events in the media, music I’ve heard, books, memories emerging in my mind. Book of Hours became to me an examination of place and where we all fit into the world and indeed the wider universe. The drawings were all done in my studio, and they are produced in the book in the sequence I made them.”
Belinda delves into some heavy themes of philosophy, religion, the natural world and people. It is thought provoking, highly creative using a mixed media approach.
From the 70’s Belinda has been a ‘student’ of the arts, and for the next thirty years or so, Loftus focussed on arts research and publication, curation, development of community arts, administration and consultancy, including a period as the first Arts Officer employed by Down District Council, responsible for developing a wide-ranging programme of arts activities in the newly constructed Down Arts Centre and across the Council district. Then, from 2003 onwards, she began to develop her art practice again, attending night classes and the Foundation Course at Newry College of Further Education, and finally achieving a first class degree in Fine Art at the University of Ulster’s Art and Design Centre in 2011.
Unperceiving, they grope in the darkness is a pastel drawing from a collection of such drawing by Belinda Loftus that demonstrates her creative process. She said her thumb prints smudged the cover of the book where she kept her drawings and as she thought about its abstract elemental nature, she realised it was at the time that Trump was emerging to power, thus touching on a darker message in the work.
The works are all very moderately priced and this could be your opportunity to own a piece of Belinda’s eclectic art experience – she paints in oils, draws with chalk, charcoal, pastel, pencil, ink, gouache, and uses photos artisticly, explores mixed media and collage, and water-based lithograph.
My favourite piece was a large canvas of joined up newsprint, painted over, and worked on with pencil which gave the impression of a vast expanse of Artic territory which Belinda describes as inhabited by the native Innuit people. This cartographic effort which looked like a very old map reminded me of northern Canada when I flew over the icy Artic circle many tears ago.
Book of Hours can be purchased for £15 at the Down Arts Centre, St Patrick’s Centre, Smyth’s Musique in Newcastle ,and Bernie’s shop in Dundrum.
Financial Climate, exhibition by Belinda Loftus, Down Arts Centre,
Friday 2nd – Saturday 24th November. 10am-4.30pm