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Belfast collective wins Turner Prize with pub installation

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Array Collective, a group of Belfast-based artists whose work is a response to issues affecting Northern Ireland, has been named the winner of the Turner Prize 2021.

The group, comprised of 11 artists, has made history, becoming the first Northern Irish winner of the prize.

The Turner Prize, named after the radical British painter JMW Turner, is one of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts, celebrating artistic talent in UK.

Members of the collective have been working together “more actively” since 2016 and “create collaborative actions in response to sociopolitical issues” affecting the region.

Their success was announced at a ceremony in Coventry Cathedral, in England, where they were presented with the €25,000 prize money.

The sibin, a ‘pub without permission’, is an immersive installation with a large canopy styled from banners which provides a floating roof and a circle of flag poles that reference ancient Irish ceremonial sites. Photograph: Doug Peters/PA Wire
The sibin, a ‘pub without permission’, is an immersive installation with a large canopy styled from banners. Photograph: Doug Peters/PA Wire

The jury awarded the top prize to Array Collective for “their hopeful and dynamic artwork which addresses urgent social and political issues affecting Northern Ireland with humour, seriousness and beauty”.

The group impressed the jury with their ability to “translate their activism and values into the gallery environment, creating a welcoming, immersive and surprising exhibition”, a statement said.

The sibin, a “pub without permission”, is an immersive installation with a large canopy styled from banners which provide a floating roof and a circle of flag poles that reference ancient Irish ceremonial sites.

The winning artwork was designed as a place to gather outside the sectarian which has dominated the collective memory of Northern Ireland for the last 100 years.

Holding a baby on the stage, Array Collective member Laura O’Connor said: “It’s surreal. We have not been making work over the last year with lockdown, it has motivated and pushed us. I think we surprised ourselves with what we came out with in the end and we are so proud of it.”

The group added that they were going to celebrate with “a few pints” after winning the prestigious prize.

The five-strong shortlist this year was made up of entirely of artist collectives for the first time in the history of the award, with no single person chosen.

The four other nominees – Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS), Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical and Project Art Works – were all awarded €10,000.

The exhibition had really successfully translated the spirit of what they do… this amazing sibin you know, illegal pub, Northern-Irish style in the middle of a gallery

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize jury, told the PA news agency: “Of course, it was a hard one, the decision.

“But what the jurists were drawn to, I think, was both a combination of the seriousness of the issues they’re dealing with, in a very divided world, but the joy, the hope, the fun, the surprise… with which they do their political work as artworks.

“I think the feeling was that the exhibition had really successfully translated the spirit of what they do, how they go about it, this amazing sibin you know, illegal pub, Northern-Irish style in the middle of a gallery with these amazing videos of performances that were quite mesmerising…

“While underneath it all a really serious message, imagining a life, beyond sectarianism, beyond patriarchy, that’s campaigning for reproductive rights, for LGBT+ rights, but again with a spirit of the absurd and a light touch that’s nevertheless profound and engaging, and they felt that was absolutely present in the exhibition space in a very surprising way.”

Last year 10 artists were awarded €10,000 bursaries in lieu of the Turner Prize after it was called off because of the pandemic.

Established in 1984, Turner Prize the prize is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work.

High-profile winners through the years include include Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst and Steve McQueen.

Next year the Turner Prize returns to the Tate Liverpool for the first time in 15 years. – PA

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Taoiseach’s family shaped by their working-class roots

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As a special needs assistant at Bunscoil Chríost Rí in Turner’s Cross on the south side of Cork city, Mairéad Martin-Richmond is often asked how she manages financially.

Martin-Richmond, a 59-year-old separated mother of two grown-up children, is a sister of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and says her family’s working-class roots keep her grounded.

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Hines invests in industrial portfolio in Northern Italy

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Hines has reached a binding agreement for an off-market investment to acquire 20 logistics assets located between Emilia Romagna and Lombardy through the Italian fund HEVF II Italy managed by Prelios SGR on behalf of the Hines European Value Fund 2 (HEVF 2). The transaction involves the acquisition of the real estate portfolio from four different selling companies and the simultaneous 15-year lease of the same portfolio to Snatt Logistica Group, a leader in the third-party logistics (3PL) sector focusing exclusively on the fashion industry. The portfolio of 20 logistics assets provides a total of 200,000m² of logistics space around Milan, Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna. They are strategic, well-established logistic centres that enjoy effective, rapid connections with Italy’s main cities and the rest of Europe.

 

“We are pleased to start 2022 with an important investment in the logistics sector that consolidates our presence in the main intersections in Northern Italy. At Hines, we believe in the potential of the logistics sector in Italy and have set an investment target of around €1bn in 2022,” commented Mario Abbadessa, senior managing director & country head of Hines Italy. “We are proud to collaborate with Snatt Logistica Group, which is an international 3PL logistics leader in the luxury fashion industry, and we are certain that we will be able to develop a shared path for growth, guided by common values, including ESG, which is key to our DNA.”

 

Paul White, senior managing director and fund manager for HEVF 2 at Hines, said: “This is an attractive portfolio of assets with a strong, innovative tenant at the forefront of Italy’s fast-growing third-party logistics sector for the fashion industry. We believe that e-commerce will continue to drive long-term demand for high-quality logistics facilities in Italy’s northern cities, pushing the value of these investments forwards, while there is also a significant opportunity to enhance the sustainability performance of existing assets here. This is aligned with our ESG objectives as recognised by GRESB, with HEVF 2 achieving the award of Overall Global Sector Leader in the Diversified Office/Retail category for sustainability performance in 2021.”

 

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Latest Coveney gaffe shows new knack of ‘making small problems big’

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“Don’t mind your press releases,” a Fine Gael source was told by a more experienced hand on their first day in Leinster House; “If you want something out there, just say it in the PP [parliamentary party meeting].”

It’s a truism of Irish politics that these meetings – especially those of the two larger Government parties – leak like the proverbial sieve. This got worse during Covid, when virtual meetings meant members were unencumbered by the need to even appear interested, and journalists were freely briefed in real time. The content of the meeting, coupled with the observations of parliamentarians – arch, knowing, and unfiltered – populated twitter streams and news copy.

So, when Simon Coveney’s remarks about his surprise at the meeting between the Russian ambassador to Ireland and the head of the defence forces were promptly headline news, it can’t have been too much of a shock. “He knows he’s speaking at the leakiest meeting in Leinster House,” observed a source present.

Still, some in the room thought when Michael Creed raised the issue, Coveney would just “warble on like you normally do”. Instead, after a gap of several minutes while other questions were fielded, the Minister for Defence bit down. He said he was “surprised to put it mildly”, several sources present said, and questioned the judgement of it.

Afterwards, sources close to Coveney quickly asserted the Minister meant the tweet from the Russians, and the accompanying picture, were the issue, not the meeting. But multiple sources at the parliamentary party interpreted it as referring to the meeting, and what’s more, as a direct rebuke to the chief of staff. “The tone I got was he was f***ing livid,” said one source.

Either way, the remark was leaked, it was controversial, and early the next morning, Coveney was mending fences in the Dáil, expressing confidence in Clancy and contrition for having brought him into the line of political fire.

A kind interpretation, offered by some at the meeting, is that he feels honour-bound to respond fully to questions from parliamentary colleagues. There is likely truth to that. But equally, many believe he would have known his comments would have been controversial, open to interpretation as a rebuke to the head of the Defence Forces, and that it was meant as a shot across the bows.

Others postulate that – perhaps more worryingly – he didn’t detect the political risk inherent in the remarks, which the Opposition would say had undermined the Chief of Staff . “Simon should have known this was going to result in public comment,” said another person there.

That, in truth is the bigger concern – that Coveney’s bad run of form is down to a blunted political dexterity. “You’d know by the way he said it he wasn’t trying to cause controversy,” one colleague said – adding that it was, however, evidence of Coveney’s new knack of “making small problems into big ones”.

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