Acclaimed artist Joy Gerrard lives and works in Belfast. She graduated with a BA from NCAD, Dublin and an MA and MPhil from the Royal College of Art, London. Gerrard is known for work that investigates different systems of relations between crowds, architecture and the built environment, archiving and painstakingly recreating images of political demonstrations from around the world.

These mass marches, sourced from the media, include Trump Resistance, Occupy movement, Arab Risings, Black Lives Matter, Women's March amongst many more.

Joy's work features in the Living Canvas programme, Stories of Home and Valour, that runs at Wilton Park, Dublin, as part of this year's Brigid Festival, from February 1st - 6th 2023 - find out more here.

We asked Joy for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

We're always looking for things to watch with our three children. This is becoming more of a struggle as the kids are thirteen and fifteen and there are very disparate opinions. At Christmas we watched Elvis by Baz Luhrman and we all loved it. This is a brilliant portrait of the musician, his relationships and the times he lived in. It’s very poignant and emotional too - and obviously, the music is great.

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MUSIC

I always listen to music while I’m painting, and it ranges from classical to techno depending on what 'bit’ or stage of the painting I’m at. I listen mostly to a range of female vocalists. My friend Conor Horgan introduced me to Ane Brun while we were both on residency in Paris, and I find her very soothing for when I’m working on a complex section that needs focus. I also listen to Mary Coughlan, Sinead O’Connor, Alison Moyet and Eurythmics. My daughter loves Lana del Ray and the Arctic Monkeys, and they creep into my studio playlist too.

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MUSIC

Surrender by Bono. My husband gave me this book for Christmas and it’s great. Bono is a fluent and engaging writer and I’m finding his essays engaging and a fascinating portrait of the Ireland he grew up in. While researching issues for my current show I’ve also been reading Law and Disorder by Illan Rua Wall, published by Routledge. I’d quite like to absorb this book by osmosis and be able to quote from it at will. It’s a complex analysis of protest, legality and the affects of crowds and is so relevant to my work. Another book I read while working on this show is by barrister Harriet Johnson, entitled Enough is Enough: The Violence Against Women and How to End It. This is a searing indictment of the legal system and how criminal justice fails women again and again. It’s empowering too, because it offers clear rationales and arguments for change.

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THEATRE

I love theatre but don’t go enough. I wish I had the time to go more. However, I did see director Caitríona McLaughlin’s Translations at the Lyric in Belfast last Summer. The set, lighting and performances were brilliant; and it felt very contemporary and relevant.

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TV

We have been watching the television version of His Dark Materials with my daughters. I loved the books and think this is a good adaptation and is visually rich and absorbing.

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GIG

I saw Billie Eilish with my daughters at the O2 in Belfast last summer. It was brilliant. She is full of energy and is a great role model for my thirteen-year-old twins. The last small live gig I was at was The Eric Bell Trio (with Phil Smyth and Matt Hewer) at the Pavilion in Belfast a few weeks ago. Eric Bell was a founding guitarist of Thin Lizzy, and is 75 now. He is an incredible guitarist and vocalist and sang a mixture of new material and classics like Whiskey in the Jar. He is touring in February and is well worth seeing.

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ART

I recently co-selected ( with Katherine Hemelryk) an exhibition called Urgencies at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry. We selected artists that were calling for something urgently or responding to an urgent theme in the world. This was a tough job as there were great submissions. The exhibition is on at the CCA at the moment.

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New Exits is a super energetic painting show which is also currently at the MAC in Belfast till March. It shows ten recent painting graduates from the Belfast school of Art and packs quite a punch.

RADIO/PODCAST

I’ve been listening to Death of an Artist, which is about the death of artist Ana Mendieta. It’s hosted by Helen Molesworth and produced by Pushkin and you can listen to it on Apple podcasts. It’s an incredible and tragic story and explores ideas around violence, hierarchy and genius in a brilliant way.

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TECH

I’m beginning to travel a great deal more now, post Covid. I seem to spend a lot of time on travel apps. Aer Lingus and Trainline in the UK are both very good and easy to use. Irish Rail is useful too. I’m probably on Google Maps the most. My family think I should have been a travel agent.

THE NEXT BIG THING...

I saw Oona O’Doherty’s Navy Blue at the MAC in Belfast. It was the most brilliant and energising performance I’ve seen in years. She is a dancer and choreographer and a true original. The dance was original, emotional and beautiful. She was in conversation afterwards; and I felt that all of us fellow artists would be wise to take her example. She was unflinchingly honest in how she spoke about the work. Artists often cloak their work in theory or complicated ideas. She wanted the work to speak for itself, and it really did.

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Image as Protest, a new exhibition which brings together works by Joy Gerrard and Paula Rego, centred on women's rights, runs at the Christea Roberts Gallery, London, until March 4th 2023 - find out more here.