Northern Ireland’s first Turner Prize-winning artwork is ‘finally home’

Northern Ireland’s first Turner Prize-winning artwork is ‘finally home’

A PIECE of art by a group of Northern Irish artists which won the Turner Prize in 2021 has now returned to its homeland where it is on display to the public.

Ulster Museum has become home to The Druthaib’s Ball, an immersive installation by Belfast-based artists Array Collective which became the first Northern Irish piece of work to win the esteemed art prize.

The piece is an imagined síbín - or illicit pub – and was created at a time “when the centenaries of partition and the creation of Northern Ireland intersected with multiple ongoing campaigns including marriage equality, reproductive rights, and an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland” a spokesperson for the Ulster Museum said this week as they announced the artwork’s arrival.

“It gives an insight to some of the political and social causes that have come to prominence in ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland,” they added.

The Museum acquired the artwork with support from the Art Fund and the Department for Communities.

Commenting on its arrival, Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said: “The Druthaib’s Ball highlights the evolving nature of both art and politics in Northern Ireland.

“The Ulster Museum is an engaging space where contemporary issues can be discussed and examined. We aim to support exploration and dialogue regarding our past, present and future.”

Array Collective are announced as the winner of Turner Prize 2021, the leading international award for contemporary art, at Coventry Cathedral

The Array Collective devised the installation – which includes over 250 objects, artworks and furnishings – so that viewers could spend time within it reflecting on the issues such as cultural identity and rights.

“It’s been a memorable journey, but we are delighted that ‘The Druthaib’s Ball’ is finally home,” the collective said this week.

“The artwork was conceived of and created in Belfast, it involved the work and support of numerous locally based artists and is inspired by causes that affect people throughout the North.”

They added: “Coming home feels significant.

“We are excited to welcome everyone to spend time in the síbín at the Ulster Museum. Níl aon tintéan mar do thintéan féin.”

Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI, and curator of The Druthaib’s Ball exhibition added: “It was an incredible moment for the art community in Northern Ireland when Array Collective were awarded the 2021 Turner Prize.

“The win drew attention to the historic connection between art and social activism in Belfast.

“Now, we mark this moment by bringing the prize-winning installation into the Ulster Museum Collection, joining our existing works of art that focus on socially engaged practice.”