Tuesday 09 February 2021


Northern Ireland artist and Turner Prize nominee Willie Doherty will present his lifetime work in Italy from today (Tuesday, February 9, 2021) until May 16, 2021 as part of the British Council’s UK/Italy Season.

The exhibition, which was postponed due to Covid-19, will take place at FMAV - Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Italy and is in partnership with the Ulster Museum, where it will be held from 4 June-12 September 2021.

 Titled WHERE / DOVE, it presents an overview of Doherty’s career which spans four decades - from the 1980s to the present and focuses on the theme of borders, both tangible and imagined. It addresses subjects which touch on the legacy of colonialism, conflict and the fault-lines that divide individuals and communities.

 Doherty is recognised internationally for his work in photography, film and video, inspired by his experiences of the Troubles in his native Derry~Londonderry. His use of landscape to evoke a sense of instability and uncertainty, through a complex layering of associations, is one of the most powerful aspects of his practice. He uses this artistic motif to examine the persistence of individual and collective trauma and its repercussions on the present.

 Doherty’s work has featured in some of the most prestigious art institutions around the world. In 2007, he was selected by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council to represent Northern Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale, and he has twice been a Turner Prize nominee.

 This is Doherty’s first solo show at an Italian institution. A new video installation has been commissioned for the occasion, which will be displayed as a two-screen work in the gallery in Modena. 

  Artist Willie Doherty said: “I am delighted to participate in the British Council’s UK/Italy Season and to be part of this important dialogue about how we can make art present and vibrant in both physical and digital spaces. My exhibition WHERE / DOVE presents a body of work that deals with how we live with and negotiate our way through and around borders. Borders can present the opportunity for positive change, for recognition of other perspectives, for compassion and understanding in the face of adversity and fear.”

 The British Council’s UK/Italy Season 2020 is a digitally-led programme, organised in close cooperation with the British Embassy in Italy. It connects prominent arts and education professionals from both countries to support cultural resilience, share creative innovation and establish new international networks.

 Speaking about the exhibition, Jonathan Stewart, British Council Northern Ireland Director, said: “We are honoured to be working in partnership with FMAV, Modena and the Ulster Museum, Belfast to present this solo exhibition of one of Northern Ireland’s leading international artists, Willie Doherty. WHERE / DOVE connects us at a time when supporting the work of artists internationally, as well as the museums and galleries sectors, has never been more important.”

 Daniele De Luigi, Curator at FMAV, said: “We are delighted at FMAV to be the first Italian institution to present a solo exhibition by Northern Ireland artist Willie Doherty. FMAV has a long-standing tradition of photography and video, and we are committed to showcasing artists such as Doherty, whose work provides a profound reflection on the issues facing society today. Putting together an international exhibition of this scale, during a global pandemic, was a challenge that makes us even prouder of our commitment to the UK/Italy Season.”

 Róisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “We have a close partnership with the British Council and together have supported many influential Northern Ireland artists in their international careers. We are proud that Willie Doherty, one of Northern Ireland’s foremost contemporary visual artists, is being showcased at the British Council’s UK/Italy Season.”

 The exhibition will run until May 16 at FMAV - Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Italy – for more information visit:  https://www.fmav.org/mostre-e-attivita/mostre/willie-doherty-where-dove/.

UK/Italy continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook or Instagram.


Notes to Editor

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504  claire.mcauley@britishcouncil.org Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – www.facebook.com/britishcouncilnorthernireland Instagram: BritishCouncilNorthernIreland

 About UK-Italy Season

 UK-Italy 2020

The UK-Italy Season 2020 is an exciting opportunity to strengthen new cultural connections between both countries. It takes place in Italy, and virtually, in autumn 2020 and focuses on creativity, innovation and inclusion, under the theme Being Present. For more information, visit: https://www.britishcouncil.it/en/programmes/uk-italy

 This reimagined Season, curated by Jean Cameron, connects UK prominent artists and emerging talent together with Italy’s next generation of creative professionals and young leaders. What it means to be present will be explored through a digital-led programme of activities, co-created by partners in the UK and Italy, including a series of Culture Salons talks, about how the cultural sector becomes more resilient, agile and better able to respond to crises.

 For more information on the British Council’s UK/Italy Season 2020, including how to watch the Willie Doherty video commission online, please visit https://www.britishcouncil.it/en/programmes/uk-italy.

 For the latest updates on the British Council’s UK/Italy Season 2020, follow the hashtags #UKIT2020 and #BeingPresent on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 About the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead funding and development agency for the Arts providing support to arts projects throughout the region, through its Treasury and National Lottery funds. Our funding enables artists and arts organisations to increase access to the arts across society and deliver great art that is within everyone’s reach. National Lottery-funded arts programmes are bringing communities closer together, tackling prejudice, racism, isolation and mental health and improving emotional wellbeing. www.artscouncil-ni.org

 About Fondazione Modena Arti Visive

Founded in 2017 by Comune di Modena and Fondazione di Modena, FMAV is a cultural production and professional training centre whose goal is to spread contemporary art and visual culture. With its set of venues, FMAV takes up the legacy of the three institutions merged into it – Galleria Civica di Modena, Fondazione Fotografia di Modena and Museo della Figurina – to form a veritable cultural district. The foundation proposes and organizes exhibitions and advanced training courses, workshops, performances and conferences, as well as promoting the collections that it manages and building a system of networks on a local and a wider scale. FMAV is increasingly linking its exhibition activities with the educational programmes at the School of Advanced Studies, which offers the Master’s in Contemporary Images and ICON course for Curators of Contemporary Images. www.fmav.org

 About Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum is Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and the present – home to rich collections of art, history and natural sciences.  It is a vibrant place where friends and family enjoy knowledge and stories drawn from local and global culture. It is a place of awe and wonder, but also a safe and trusted space which allows diverse voices to be heard and difficult questions to be explored.

Ulster Museum is part of National Museums NI which is made up of four diverse museums and serves as a custodian of the 1.4 million objects within the National Collection. These exquisite objects span all time periods, referencing Northern Ireland and the wider world.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.  For more information, please visit: http://nireland.britishcouncil.org