John Byrne (Irish artist)
John Byrne is an artist born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, now living in Dublin. He went to art college in Belfast, then to the Slade School of Art in London in the mid-1980s. There he began to practice as a performance artist, gallery as well as theatre based, addressing identity and issues around the conflict in Northern Ireland.
After moving to Dublin in 1996, he performed A Border Worrier as part of the 1997 Theatre Festival. In 2000 he produced Border Interpretative Centre, a visitor centre and souvenir shop on the border which attracted media attention on its opening. It was a neon decorated simple breezeblock structure located on the border, on the main Belfast-Dublin road. Although it was forced to close after less than a week, it was documented in a series of Gallery shows in Dublin (The Border Itself, Temple Bar Gallery, 2001), in Belfast (Ormeau Baths Gallery, 2001) and in Berlin (Gallerie Agregat, 2002).
In 2003 Byrne produced a 12-minute video, Would you die for Ireland?, recording his tour around Ireland asking people on the street whether they were prepared to make ‘the ultimate sacrifice’. Most participants were members of the public, but also included the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and members of the Orange Order. The piece was made in response to a commissioned group show (Dearcadh) for Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, marking the bi-centenary of Robert Emmet's rebellion and execution in 1803. The work examines ideas around patriotism and nationalism.
In 2004 Byrne produced a large public artwork Dublin's Last Supper which was commissioned by building developer Mick Wallace (M&J Wallace Ltd) for the courtyard of a new development at Blooms Lane, Lower Ormond Quay in central Dublin. It was a nine metre by two metre photo work on steel panels (screen-printed onto vitreous enamel) featuring 13 people encountered on the streets of Dublin in the form of an interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece. The work was meant to be reflective of a changing society and the growing cultural mix in Dublin.
2005 projects included:
- February - Group show with Victor Sloan and Mickey Donnelly, at raum5 gallery, Berlin, including Would you die for Ireland?
- June - Video Believers premiered at the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork. In this work Byrne is the central protagonist, confessing his art beliefs to a classical female nude who in turn responds, thus playing on the traditional notion of an artist and his muse.
- June - Solo show at the Fenton Gallery, Cork
- Cork City Council residency - 'The Criteria Residency'
In 2006 he represented Ireland as part of Site-ations International in Riga, Latvia.
In August 2010 he presented Casting Light a spectacular video projection ‘mapped’ onto the façade of a bank in Cavan which was showcased during the Fleadh Cheoil. This included a segment where the bank appeared as a giant fruit machine. An updated version featured in 2012.
'Misneach' was a major permanent sculptural work commissioned as part of Breaking Ground ‘s Public Art programme. This one and a half life size bronze monument of horse and rider is rendered in a style typical of the European tradition of portraying heads of state. 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 teenage girl native of Ballymun. The completed monument was mounted on a plinth and unveiled in September 2010.
John is currently working on a number of commissions including a per cent for art work for the Loreto School in Balbriggan and a new collaborative work with The Palestrina Choir entitled Good Works commissioned through Create.
He has been the recipient of several Arts Council Awards and his work is in many private and public collections (including the OPW and UCC). He regularly lectures in colleges throughout Ireland and is currently external examiner in Sculpture at Limerick College of Technology. He lives and works in Dublin.
- John Byrne's web site
- Circa Art Magazine - This is serious: reflecting on John Byrne’s exhibition at the Fenton Gallery in Cork, June 2005
- John Byrne. "John Byrne Artist". John Byrne website. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
- "John Byrne: Would You Die for Ireland?". Irish Museum of Modern Art website. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
- "Dublin's Last Supper: A new artwork by John Byrne". Circa Art Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
- John Byrne. "New Developments". John Byrne website. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
- "John Byrne - From a South Facing Family". Fenton Gallery review. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-22.