Tyrone artist set for print signing event

Dungannon native, artist Victor Sloan.
Dungannon native, artist Victor Sloan.

Dungannon native Victor Sloan, one of Ireland’s major visual artists, will be at a special signing event next month.

Born in County Tyrone, Victor now lives and works in Portadown, and has developed an international reputation for creating powerful images.

A signed limited edition reproduction of an original Belfast Zoo III by Victor Sloan.

A signed limited edition reproduction of an original Belfast Zoo III by Victor Sloan.

He’s known for his works commenting on various political, social and cultural aspects of Northern Ireland.

Belfast Exposed are producing 50 signed limited edition reproductions of the original Belfast Zoo III by Victor.

These unique high-quality reproductions are printed on ‘Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta Satin 300gsm’ archival paperborder and come with a certificate of authentication.

As part of Late Night Art, on Thursday, December 6, from 7pm-9pm, Victor will be available in Belfast Exposed Gallery for a special signing event.

Victor started his art practice as an abstract painter. He had always used the camera but it was not until 1981 that he began to use the medium systematically.

However, he had no intention of producing ‘pure’ photographs for exhibition purposes.

An Extract from Marking the North - the Work of Victor Sloan, by Brian McAvera, published by Open Air, Dublin

and Impressions, York, England), reads: “I want a photograph to say more than a photograph usually says. It’s not just a photograph in a magazine. It’s a statement... something personal. I want to make people to look at the image in a different way; see behind the image. People tend to dismiss photographs as just being photographs.”

In 1983, Victor Sloan paid a visit to Belfast Zoo with his children.

He brought a camera to take some family snaps, but he ended up taking a different, more troubled and troubling kind of photograph.

He found himself standing looking in sadness and dismay at the chimpanzees behind a pane of scratched, scarred, battered perspex, its cloudy surface smeared with ice cream and marked by graffiti.

There and then he decided to take photographs of the animals.

But rather than trying to isolate them from their context, he deliberately viewed them entirely in terms of their context.

The chimpanzees are virtually silhouettes, distanced, tenuous presences behind grubby perspex. The glare of the flash bounces uncomfortably back and the images have a worn, battered look about them.

Victor Sloan photographed various kinds of animals in the zoo, but felt himself drawn back to the images of chimps because, as he says, ‘we relate to monkeys, we see ourselves in them’.

An extract from Extract from Marking the North - the Work of Victor Sloan, by Brian McAvera, published by Open Air, Dublin

and Impressions, York, England, reads: “While it is true that the artist disclaims any social or political intention at this juncture – it was to be a while before he consciously began to interrogate his images – nevertheless, a number of these images function metaphorically as statements about Northern Ireland. For example Belfast Zoo I, reveals the legend ‘I.R.A.’ scraped into the perspex, encouraging a reading which would suggest that the Northern Irish are trapped by the I.R.A., like the monkeys in the cage. They can stare outwards but are incapable of effecting change: they are prisoners in their own society.”

Due to the artist’s popularity, it is anticipated the signed limited edition reproductions of the original Belfast Zoo III by Victor will be in high demand at the December 6 event. Anyone interested in finding out more about it can email to c.obrien@belfastexposed.org or call 9023 0965.