Letter to Chris Bailey from Theo Simms, Canada, 28th February 2006
28th February 2006
I was completely shocked to hear about the closure of the Ormeau Baths Gallery today. The gallery played an enormous part in helping me along with many young artists to become familiar with professional presentation of contemporary visual art and helping me as an artist to gain access to major international curators and artists. I was fortunate to exhibit in groups exhibitions organised through Hugh Mulholland, which helped me to have increased visibility as an artist.
I stagger at the lack of foresight by the current Arts Council to suspend funding to the crown jewel of Northern Irelands Visual Cultural scene. This attempt to make a personal attack on such a culturally significant organisation speaks to the parochialism and undemocratic culture displayed by the council in the early nineties when a radically refreshing new vision and voice by emerging artists seemed to be hugely undermined, (until curators and artists from outside of Northern Ireland started to pay attention and promote some of these artists).
I hope that the Council and the Ormeau Baths can try to resolve some of the nproblems that both parties have already seemed to be addressing, and on behalf of the many talented and exciting Northern Irish artists (as promoted by Hugh Mulholland in the Venice Biennial last summer), plead that the funding be reinstated and allow the gallery to shine as it so importantly should.