Belfast Good Friday Agreement

Hilltown Women's Group, Women of Clonduff and Rathfriland Regen Group collaborate to exhibit epic-scale video portraits of key figures in Chandler's House, Rathfriland, 8 and 9 June. 

An exhibit 20 years in the making and featuring silent video portraits of 14 political figures who negotiated the Belfast Good Friday Agreement (BGFA), is set to open to the public for a short period at Chandler's House, Rathfriland from 8-9 June.

Made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, in partnership with Ulster Presents at Ulster University, AGREEMENT by artist Amanda Dunsmore will be displayed in its entirety, across a 24-hour period from 12pm to 10pm on 8th June and 8am to 12pm on 9th June.

The artwork, following a run at the Ulster University over the 25th anniversary of the signing of the BGFA, is travelling across Northern Ireland, made available to a diverse range of community groups for public exhibition as an opportunity for communities to reflect on the principles of coming to agreement and on what the Good Friday Agreement means to people today.

Martina Byrne, on behalf of the community groups, said “After receiving the exciting news, we decided that we should share with Rathfriland Regen and host in their arts and culture space, Chandler’s House”.  Following a site visit last week, Amanda and the team from quarto agreed it was ideal as a neutral space on ground level and able to accommodate the size of the exhibition.  “Inclusivity and cross community work are very important to us and we encourage everyone - adults, children, men and women, young and older - to not miss this unique opportunity.  We’re are also delighted that Amanda is going to be with us for the time we have the exhibit and share the story of her art work at the evening launch”.

Catherine Cummings from Rathfriland Regen Group said “We’re excited to host this exhibition working together with the women’s group in Hilltown.  We hope many people are interested in coming along during the two days. The exhibition will not be shown elsewhere in this area, so we really hope that people will take the opportunity to see it here in Rathfriland.”

The artwork aims to create a silent, intimate space for reflection and contemplation on the meaning of the Good Friday Agreement and, more generally, what it means to come to agreement with someone different to you or opposed to your perspective.  Participating groups will commit to a series of conversations and workshops exploring people’s thoughts and feelings about ‘agreement’ and the Good Friday Agreement across 2023.

Six groups have been offered the opportunity to host the exhibition in their community, in different parts of Northern Ireland.  The groups were each invited to attend the exhibition launch at Ulster University, Belfast, 17 April 2023.

As Amanda explains: “It’s always been essential to me that this work is seen and owned by communities in Northern Ireland, not so much as a commemoration of political leadership at the time but for us all to consider our own role, in the silences between political opinion, in sustaining a peaceful and non-violent future.”

The exhibition is now on a tour of communities across Northern Ireland following its opening at Ulster University last Easter. quarto collective are working with community groups across the country to identify and host locations for its visit. Rathfriland is the first in tour which will include up to six locations and sets of community groups.

Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players, AGREEMENT is an opportunity to reflect on the principles of coming to agreement and on what the Good Friday Agreement means to people today.

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “This is a unique project which attempts to look at the Good Friday Agreement from the perspective of heritage and through the prism of an artist’s response to what we have learnt from it. This is all the more important at a time in which questions are being asked about the Good Friday Agreement and how well it serves us today. So, it is good to go back to look at the reasons for its inception if only to remind us of how far we have come and how much we have achieved in those 25 years since 1998.”

Cian Smyth, Ulster Presents Programme Manager, Ulster University said: “We are excited to continue our BGFA@25 programme, working alongside quarto collective and community groups in the Hilltown, Clonduff and Rathfriland area to bring this important work to the public with an opportunity to reflect on the last 25 years of peace. Our programme is about honouring the resilience of Northern Ireland’s citizens in sustaining 25 years of peace and non-violence and this project is for them to lead the conversation going forward.”

Bryonie Reid from quarto collective, who are working with diverse community groups who will host the artwork for a short period, commented: “We are delighted to see this important and profound artwork coming into community-owned spaces across Northern Ireland, where the day-to-day work of peacemaking continues. We look forward to seeing and hearing what people make of the artwork’s subjects and themes. We hope it makes space for reflection on what agreement, and the Good Friday Agreement, has meant in the past, means today, and will mean in the future.

The exhibits form part of the university’s overarching arts programme to mark 25 years since the signing of the agreement.

Find out more about the AGREEMENT exhibition.

See more of what Ulster University planned to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

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