John Byrne


Wednesday 30th September

Catalyst Arts 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm

John’s performance takes the form of a slide illustrated monologue and the showing of 3 short video/performance pieces.  He has recently begun a process which explores the idea of investing belief in High Culture, that Art is somehow a route to a kind of Salvation. One of the videos, “Believers”uses ‘art language’ in prayer-like mantra in a conversation with a reclining nude model.

It’s notable that at this time of economic uncertainty there appears to have been a refocusing on the spiritual. “I’m interested in areas where Art and Faith overlap or replace each other.A contest perhaps between Art and God”.

Soldiers Are Wee

John was born in Belfast; he went to the Art College there before attending The Slade School of Art in London in the mid eighties. It was there that he began to practice as a performer, and has since performed at venues throughout Ireland, the UK, Denmark and Poland.

Returning to Ireland in1996 he performed ‘A Border Worrier’ for the 1997 Dublin Theatre Festival.  This apparent obsession with the Irish Border culminated in his ‘Border Interpretative Centre’ (2000) a week long visitor centre project right on the border. It was subsequently documented in solo exhibitions at Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast and Gallerie Agregat in Mitte, Berlin within sight of the site of the old Berlin Wall.

“Would you die for Ireland?” a 12min video shot by John in the Summer of 2003, involved him travelling the streets of Ireland (Dublin, Belfast, Cork) asking the above question to a wide range of people including Bertie Ahern, members of the Orange order In 2004 he installed his ‘Dublin’s Last Supper’ a large digitally manipulated photo-work in enamel, screen-printed and fired onto 9 adjoining panels.

He is currently working on a major permanent sculptural work through  Breaking Ground as part of the Ballymun regeneration.  This will be a one and a half life size bronze horse and rider monument due to be mounted on a plinth and unveiled this year. The horse is a copy of the ‘Gough Memorial’ originally sited in the Phoenix Park which was blown up in 1957. The rider is modelled on a local teenage girl.

John has been the recipient of several Art’s Council Awards. His work is in many private and public collections (including the OPW and UCC)

He now lives and works in Dublin.


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