Precarious Freedom: crowds, flags, barriers
Joy Gerrard

Precarious Freedom was an exhibition by Joy Gerrard that included a series of drawings and paintings made during 2020 and 2021 and large-scale installation works. This touring exhibition was curated by Aoife Ruane, Director of Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda where it was first shown in June 2021 and which then travelled to the Galway International Arts Festival in September 2021.

In Dark Europe, Gerrard stripped the colour from all 27 national flags in the European Union. This work was conceived as a response to Brexit; however, Gerrard now considers it as an elegy or mourning work, post Covid. It’s unified, monochrome sculptural form might prompted us to reflect on how the pandemic has reinforced nationhood, borders and blocs.

In response to very recent protests focusing on women’s rights and freedoms, Gerrard made Barrier, a free standing eight-metre-long painting. Barrier 1 reproduced a helicopter view of the Sisters Uncut protest that moved through central London after the vigil for Sarah Everard. Importantly for the subjects of Gerrard’s work, the Sarah Everard protest also marked a moment overshadowed by a new and disputed UK Police Bill, the intent of which is to radically increase state powers to control public demonstrations.

At the present juncture then, Gerrard’s years of documentation and reflection on protesting crowds allow a further set of questions about the fate of the politicised crowd amid new state responses in the UK to resistance, populism and protest.

About the Artist

Joy Gerrard lives and works in Belfast. She graduated with a BA from NCAD, Dublin and an MA and MPhil from the Royal College of Art, London. Gerrard is known for work that investigates different systems of relations between crowds, architecture and the built environment. Using Japanese ink on paper and canvas Gerrard makes detailed ink works which re-create recent political protests from around the world.

Recent solo presentations include Precarious Freedom at the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda (2021) and touring to GIAF and the Butler Gallery, Image as Protest at Cristea Roberts Gallery (2021), Testing/testing at the Source Arts Centre in Thurles, (2021), Put it to the People at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast (2020), supermarket in Stockholm with Ormston House (2019), shot crowd at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2017) and Protest Crowd, Peer UK, London (2015). Selected group exhibitions include: Protest and Remembrance, Cristea Roberts Gallery, London, 2019 and In a Dream You Saw A Way To Survive and You Were Full of Joy; Hayward Gallery Touring show (2016). She has installed multiple public installations since 2004 including major works in the London School of Economics, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, for Tideway (London) and Facebook (London and Dublin). Gerrard completed an artist residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2020.

RTE Culture, Monday, 7 Mar 2022
In The Picture: Joy Gerrard's Precarious Freedom at the Butler Gallery
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