Sparks – Collaborations from inside Vault Artist Studios
Vault Artist Studios began as the Belfast Bankers in late 2016. Adam Turkington received a mysterious email that contained an extraordinarily generous offer: would he be able to make use of an old Ulster Bank building in East Belfast for a year? ‘Yes’ was his immediate reply.
23 artists gathered together and set out to make as much happen as they could within the limited time they had been given. By design, the group was an eclectic mix of visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, and beekeepers that quickly
became a tight knit community with a shared purpose. From the outset they had a vision to be highly public-facing and their low studio rents (priced to cover just the running costs of the building) would be accompanied by an obligation to give their time and skills to the community.
The ‘Bankers’, as they became known by word of mouth, secured charitable status in mid-2017 and by necessity became ‘Vault Artist Studios’ (the word ‘bank’ or variations of it being protected under company naming legislation).
Eventually the day came when they had to leave the bank. After a couple of false starts, and generous offers of alternative buildings, the opportunity arose to take over the old Tower Street Campus of Belfast Met. Another temporary license to use the building meant that the fire to make something different and exciting happen was reignited.
They quickly doubled in size by inviting artists that had already become de facto Bankers to officially join them and subsequently, after an open call for applications, their number swelled to 99. Members were carefully selected to ensure the multi-disciplinary mix was maintained and again there was an
understanding that non-financial contribution to the community was expected.
When you have so many talented artists working together in one building, it is inevitable that sparks will fly and new and unexpected work will be made. This exhibition at the Golden Thread Gallery shows several collaborations between Vault Artists during their first six months in Tower Street.
17/02/2018 – The Bank
Open studios with a food focus We celebrated the first birthday of the Belfast Bankers with a festive feast of culinary delights and tasty-bits. Bankers opened their studios for a family friendly epicurean bankers bankquet of art, music, food and joy. This event was kindly funded by Makinglifebettertogether.
Street art @ The Faculty
11/02/2018 – The Bank
Belfast street artist emic helped budding artists get to grips with aerosol paint and explore techniques like tagging, stencilling and fades. Even though the workshop was aimed at complete beginners, the group worked together to create their very own unique large-scale piece of art.
Stranded – An evening with Ursula Burns
19/01/2018 – The Bank
Live Music Performance Seedhead Arts got together with our Bank neighbours The Strand to fix Friday nights in the East. Starting January 2018 ‘Stranded’ is an intimate weekly BYO event featuring music, comedy, cabaret and theatre. Belfast born songstress Ursula Burns happens to be the most ‘Dangerous Harpist in the world’. With five solo albums and a wealth of shows composed for theatre, Ursula has toured the world and played everywhere from the Albert Hall to the boot of her Tardis Imaginarium.
Surprised by Ursula Burns
20/11/2017 – The Bank
Live Music Performance Belfast-born harpist, songwriter and performer, Ursula Burns has five critically acclaimed albums to her name, the latest being The Dangerous Harpist. She accidentally fell into comedy in more recent years when she uploaded the song It Does not Rock to YouTube, and consequently won the Irish Musical Comedy Award. She performed as part of the Cabaret Night in the Big Top in this year’s EastSide Arts Festival but this performance took place in the comfort of her new home at The Bank.
18/11/2017 – Framewerk
Exhibition at Framewerk Gallery Paintings, sculpture, photography and sound stylings from the Belfast Bankers.
Belfast Open Studios
21/10/2017 – The Bank
Artists open their doors to the public. Just how does an artist get from an idea to a finished exhibition? Belfast Open Studios was an invitation to the public to come and see how artists work, take a glimpse into their creative processes and meet over 150 artists working in the city. Sponsored by local artisan tea makers Suki Tea, Belfast Open Studios offered a warm welcome to all with a cup of Belfast Brew on arrival before taking a relaxed and informative stroll around the various studios throughout the day.
08/10/2017 – The Bank
Live Audio-Visual Performance Live performances of fresh new work and work in progress from musician bankers Ed Reynolds, Jonny McEwen, Robin Price and Neil Foster. We explored the borders between cinematic guitar based ambient, experimental techo, contemporary classical, improvisation and glitchy electronica. The vibe was informal and very chilled, as befits an early Sunday evening. Visuals by Robin Price.
Captured: Rich, rugged and fresh
07/09/2017 – Goose Lane Gallery
Exhibition at Goose Lane Gallery ‘Captured: Rich, rugged and fresh – the landscape of Ireland as depicted by three Belfast-based artists’ was a visual art exhibition of paintings and photography selected for their contemporary representation of Ireland’s landscape: seaside vistas of County Wexford, irregularities of a city, the overwhelming vividness and freshness of the colour green, the wilds of a raging Irish sea, the graffiti tagged walls of Belfast, a lush forest… These artistic depictions conveyed the experience and memory of Ireland’s built and natural environments, the human interactions of past and present, and our ever changing earthly surroundings. The three artists who showcased work were Esther O’Kelly, Jonny McEwen, and Neal Campbell, and the exhibition was curated by Sally O’Dowd. All four are members of Vault Artists Studios. This exhibition made public for the first time new art made in the Belfast Bankers studio.
Screening: Dog Day Afternoon
28/08/2017 – The Bank
Film Screening When Seedhead Arts heard the theme for Cinema Day 2017 was diversity, there was only one real choice of movie. Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet’s 1975 classic stars Al Pacino as a bank robber attempting to fund his boyfriends sex change. Perfect!
Hit the East
05/08/2017 – The Bank
Street Art Festival This year (as part of Eastside Arts Festival) Seedhead Arts and the Community Arts Partnership were delighted to be bring their successful street art festival Hit the North over the river and up east. International artist Falko (South Africa) joined the cream of Northern Irish talent, transforming streets and alleyways around Holywood Arches. Street Artists such as KVLR, DMC, Emic, Verz and Tweet were joined by artists from the Bank and beautiful things occurred.
Meet the bankers
07/04/2017 – The Bank
Open Studio event and the launch of our first studio at the old Ulster Bank at the Holywood Arches on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast.