About the exhibition
Claiming Space, creating space is a new solo exhibition by Dr. Jacqueline Wylie. Wylie is a multidisciplinary artist whose ideas are often shaped and informed by her background as an industrial archaeologist.
Wylie’s playful approach to art has a serious intent: to test the boundaries of what is valued and considered ‘art’ or ‘craft’.
She has a fondness for using inexpensive, easily accessible and ephemeral materials, with a longstanding passion for textiles inherited from her mother. During the first lockdown in 2020 Jacqueline made and distributed coloured chalks to children within her local area. This process fired an interest into her immediate neighbourhood and the desire to understand more about the history of the area and its people.
Wylie’s earlier work used handknitting to explore the divide between craft and art. In 2021 she began a new series of knitted paintings that shifted her practice in a colourful direction.
During lockdown she began researching the location of the rope walks in Ballymacarrett, East Belfast, referencing ordnance survey maps from the 1830s.
In response to her findings, she made a durational, site-specific performance walk, using chalk to map the location of a historic rope walk within her community. These marks retrace the footprint of the ropewalk, travelling over modern roads and pavements close to a contested interface area.
For Wylie, walking and drawing is a powerful way to uncover local industrial heritage. The Belfast Ropeworks Company was the world’s largest manufacturer of rope during the early 20th century, with a large proportion of the workforce being female.
Here, women knitted on a grand scale, making fishing nets and landing nets during WW2.
Traditional narratives tend to downplay women’s role in the workforce, so their significant contribution to ropemaking remains largely invisible and unremarked. It is striking that no physical trace of this important economic activity exists today apart from archival references.
For this exhibition Wylie was invited to respond to the NI Screen’s video archive and ordnance survey maps in an attempt to memorialise generations of anonymous men and women who walked rope into existence.
The University of Atypical for Arts and Disability would like to thank our funders: Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council & Department for Communities
We would like to acknowledge contributions from:
Northern Ireland Screen Digital Film Archive (Copyright ITV) www.digitalfilmarchive.net PRONI & Ordnance Survey NI
About the Artist
Dr. Jacqueline Wylie was born in Dungannon and has a practice based in East Belfast. She has exhibited regularly, locally and nationally and in recent years has participated as an artist internationally in Lisbon, Oldenburg and Škofja Loka on the Erasmus project titled Craft:In for University of Atypical.
For further information checkout @jacqueline_wylie