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Life in a Northern Town – Double Dropping on a Phantom Island

21 July 2018 - 12 August 2018

Declan Colquitt // Michaela Cullen

Preview: Friday 20 July

For a new collaborative work, artists Michaela Cullen and Declan Colquitt explore ideas of recollection and the slippage of time through themes of Irish pilgrimage and Northern dance music. The artists will create a new installation ranging across different media including sculpture, sound and film.

In an attempt to define place and identity, both artists have moved backwards in time, locking into the inert temporalities of childhood, the suspended time of mythology and the acceleration of the recent past. These movements encompass remarks on delirium, displacement and lost futures.

A new film work is presented by Michaela Cullen. Described by the artist as a ‘sardonic sitcom pilgrimage’ this disorientating psychotropic story tries to understand friendship, upbringing and geographical landing. The three entities of the ‘Morrígna’, Badb, Macha and Nemain go on a detrimental journey of self-actualisation by way of self-accusation. The characters argue and meander in handmade costumes and are distinguished by their distorted cartoonish faces. The film is set in Hy-Brasil, a phantom island said to lie in the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland. Irish myths described it as cloaked in mist except for one day every seven years, when it became visible but still could not be reached.

Built on site, purpose-built bleachers will loom and sulk in the space. Catholicism and organised religion are an ever present line of research in Michaela Cullen’s work, and seating is considered further in this new work. In spaces where we are manipulated to be seated, seating is created.

Working closely with Cullen, Declan Colquitt’s soundtrack is a visceral navigation of 00’s Northern dance culture. Through the use of early camera phones that were popular at the time, and were also instrumental in the dissemination of the music via infrared and bluetooth technologies, the artist creates a lo-fi digital soundscape which pulls in and out of Cullen’s narrative.

These camera phones also remain the predominant visual tool throughout the rest of Colquitt’s work, realised in unconventionally printed photographs, collages and film stills that exploit the limitations of the medium, and magnify the ambiguity or camouflage of pixelation. These works will address the dark-vitality, nihilism and social atomisation Colquitt sees as inextricably wrapped up in the dance music of the time.

As part of the exhibition, the artists will release a two part publication which will be available in the gallery and Newbridge Books following the exhibition. Although created separately, they will attempt to theoretically bridge gaps between works in the show through research, archiving and documentation.

This project is curated by Bloc Projects, Sheffield and Caustic Coastal, Manchester.

Join Michaela and Dec for a screening, talk and discussion about their work on Tuesday 7 July.


Michaela Cullen (b.1991 Belfast) studied Art and Design at The University of Leeds and has recently been involved in projects such as;Allen Rd Sculpture Park, GRAFT, London;Selling crass tees to upper class kids, Collaboration with Sam Hutchinson, Serf, Leeds; Hold Fast, Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh; Solo show, Crawling hand in hand, out of the window, Assembly House, Leeds.

Studio-holder, committee member and co-founder of Serf, artist led studios and project space.

Their practice is an attempt at a continuous enveloping concept which explores a fascination with the practice of cults and organised religion (specifically Catholicism), historical and contemporary, whilst also trying to unpick personal upbringing, experience, validation and companionship. Deploying cinematic tropes to exaggerated, hallucinogenic mythical characters, the artist often creates long form narratives that are transferred to film, installation, writing, drawing and sculptural works. Storytelling is an important aspect to the work and attempts to mirror their own understanding of the world, past, present and future, whilst utilising abstract forms of communication. Each project embarked on by the artist tend to culminate as autonomous and finished.

Declan Colquitt
‘s practice is materially centered around text, sound and installation. In terms of content and research he looks to expand what is usually termed psychogeography to incorporate an entanglement with technology, mental illness (inc. psychiatric medication), bi-directional communicative devices, electromagnetism and other factors, situating the practice on the border of URL – IRL.

Declan Colquitt is currently completing an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art, and has previously studied at the Manchester Metropolitan University and Camberwell College of Arts. Recent exhibitions include Bloomberg New Contemporaries,BALTIC, Newcastle & Block336, London; Original Rebel Ideas, Imperial War Museum North, Salford; Are You Ready? Museum of London; Freakout and Honey in Retrogressive Hysteria, Caustic Coastal, Salford.



This exhibition is part of Life in a Northern Town, a series of exhibitions and a programme of events featuring work by emerging and early-career artists living and working in the North of England. It has been programmed in partnership with Assembly House (Leeds), Islington Mill (Manchester), Caustic Coastal (Manchester), Bloc Projects (Sheffield) and The Royal Standard (Liverpool). 

Life in a Northern Town is part of The Great Exhibition of the North 2018.

Exhibition open: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm
At The NewBridge Project : Gateshead, 232-240 High Street, Gateshead, NE8 1AQ



10am - 6pm // Preview: Friday 20 July, 6-9pm