Freelands Artist Programme 2018- 2023


July 2019

PS² is excited to announce the names of the first cohort of the 5 Northern Ireland-based, emerging artists who will participate in the Freelands Artist Programme over the next two years:
Janie Doherty, Michael Hanna, Julie Lovett, Jan McCullough
and Emily McFarland

Selected from a recent open call for applications, the artists work across a range of media including photography, painting, dance, film, sculpture, installation and performance and represent the type of fresh, ambitious and publically interactive approaches to art production found in Northern Ireland today.

Over a period of two years, this first cohort will focus on and develop significant new work, generously funded by the London-based Freelands Foundation. They are supported by newly-appointed PS² Freelands Artist Programme curator Alissa Kleist, invited mentors, peer learning and critique. The programme also includes the realisation of projects in PS², research trips, a yearly symposium, and the possibility to show work in the Freelands Gallery, London.

The Freelands Artist Programme was created to support and enhance collaboration between 80 emerging artists and four arts organisations from across the UK, to build and strengthen professional arts practice outside of London.  As with all the Foundation’s initiatives to date, the programme was established following extensive research into the current landscape of post-university support for emerging artists in the UK.

The winning institutions taking part in the programme were announced in June this year, chosen by a selection panel as follows: Elisabeth Murdoch, Freelands Foundation Founder & Chair; Simeon Barclay, Artist; Sacha Craddock, Curator and Writer; Polly Staple, Director of Chisenhale Gallery; and Mark Wallinger, Artist.

Alongside PS², Belfast/ Northern Ireland are Site Gallery, Sheffield, England; g39 in Cardiff, Wales and Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland. This new programme from Freelands Foundation will provide funding totalling £1.5 million over a five-year period. Each institution will curate a series of two-year programmes with five artists annually, allowing those artists to receive much needed support across both creative and professional development.

In August/ September 2019 we will again select 5 artists through an OPEN CALL FOR EMERGING ARTISTS for PS²’s Freelands Artist Programme.


About the artists in PS² Freelands Artist Programme

Janie Doherty

Janie Doherty‘s dance-based artistic practice is concerned with the poetic choreography of everyday life. She will use the Freelands Artist Programme as an opportunity to develop her multimedia live performance project The Politics of Comfort, a body of work inspired by the poignant potential of the bun and bread culture of Northern Ireland. In particular, she will focus on the working women who hold society together, combining softness with strength.

After graduating with a BA in Dance from Ulster University in 2009, Janie Doherty joined Echo Echo Dance Theatre company in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, as a full time ensemble member and has developed, performed and co-created touring performances with the company including The Cove; Without by Rosemary Lee; and In Tall Grass by Alessandra Celesia. She has received awards from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative industries and Acorn Legacy to develop her work and travel to the United States and Germany. She is currently based in Belfast where, alongside developing her own practice, she is working with Replay Theatre Company on a bespoke children's dance theatre piece.

Michael Hanna

Through creating immersive and site specific mixed-media installations influenced by psychological theories and learning techniques, Michael Hanna’s works propose a negotiation of the world as a physical ‘body’ and through cognitive and emotive responses of the mind. During the two-year delivery period of the Freelands Artist Programme, he will explore how space can affect and be used as a tool to understand- personal experiences at a micro and macro level.

Michael Hanna has completed a BA in Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art and an MFA at the University of Ulster in 2012. He has exhibited in group exhibitions in the UK and internationally including Rencontres Internationales at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Multiplicity at NURTUREart, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Short Films about Learning at Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford, and Predictable Contact at the Naughton Gallery, Belfast. Michael is a co-founder of AMINI, an artist led initiative for the promotion and critical discussion of artists' moving image in Northern Ireland.

Julie Lovett

Julie Lovett’s practice is cultivated through a self-conscious mix of her self- confessed social awkwardness and the struggles she associates with identifying herself as a professional artist. Much of her influences derive from her rural upbringing, experiences and sense of place. She will use the Freelands Artist Programme to explore the narratives and relationships evoked by both rural and urban spaces, using this opportunity to challenge her own perceptions as an art maker and experiences as a professional artist.

Julie Lovett received a BA in Fine Art Painting from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2007 and an MFA from Ulster University in 2011. Along with exhibiting her work in Germany, Belfast, Dublin and Kerry, she has has been the recipient of awards including the AIB Purchase Prize in Painting and the MFA Residency Award, resulting in a solo exhibition of her work at Ulster University. Recent and forthcoming exhibitions and screenings include House Taken Over, Queen’s University Sonorities Festival, Belfast, and AMINI Screenings and Discussion, in association with the MAC, Visual Artists Ireland and supported by Belfast Film Festival.

Jan McCullough

In  her  performance-based  photographic  practice,  Jan McCullough  makes  work  in  response  to  instructional  self-improvement  material,  exploring  themes  of  identity,  construction  and  desire. She will use the support and funding of the Freelands Artist Programme to  investigate  and  respond  to  the  methods  that  ‘future  life  planning’ enthusiasts  use,  collaborating  with  people who  utilize  photography  in  a  tactile  manner  in  order  to  construct  their  ideal  future  lives.

Jan McCullough graduated from Ulster University with a BA in Photography in 2013. Her work  has  been  nominated  for  the  Deutsche  Borse  Photography  Prize,  ICP  New  York  Infinity  Award  and  won  the  BJP  Breakthrough  Award.  Her  book  ‘Home  Instruction  Manual’,  published  by  Verlag  Kettler in ,  won  the  Kassel  Fotobookfestival  Dummy  Award  and  was  shortlisted  for  the  Recontres  D͛Arles  Author  Book  Award.  Recent  exhibitions include  Gallery  of  Photography  in Dublin,  Seen  Fifteen  Gallery  in  London,  Unseen  Photo  Fair  in  Amsterdam  and  Landskrona  Museum  in  Sweden.

Emily McFarland
Emily McFarland uses video and installation to reflect on the construction of shared cultural narratives and identity in cinema and television. By revisiting films, plays and broadcast images she restages structures and scripted narratives to trace, re-examine or unravel particular histories, identities, collective subjects and stories. As part of the Freelands Artist Programme, Emily will develop new moving image work based on the life and writings of the late Brazilian drama theorist, theatre director and political activist Augusto Boal.

Emily McFarland studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin before graduating from the MFA at The Glasgow School of Art in 2014. She was a recipient of the Arts Council Northern Ireland ACES Award in 2017/18 in partnership with Artist Moving Image Northern Ireland and LUX and the Creative LAB residency at CCA, Glasgow. She is a co-founder of the artist-run initiative and publishing imprint Soft Fiction Projects and a former co-director of Catalyst Arts, Belfast. Exhibitions and screenings include The Complex Seer at CCA Derry~Londonderry; WRO Media Art Biennale in Wroclaw; CYFEST 10, New York Media Art Centre & SOFA, Bogota; In the Jungle of Cities, Glasgow International 2016; í drögum, Akureyri Art Museum; AMINI Screening, Platform Arts, Belfast, and ScreenGrab, Pinnacles Gallery, Townsville, Australia.

About the PS² Freelands Artist Programme curator

Alissa Kleist
Alissa Kleist is a curator based in Belfast. She is one of the founders and Directors of Household where, since 2012, together with four others (Sighle Bhreathnach-Cashell, Eoin Dara, Ciara Hickey, and Kim McAleese) she collaboratively curates site-specific exhibitions, residencies and events, often with other institutional and community partners in public, disused, and non-institutional spaces.
From 2015 to 2018, she was the Curator (Exhibitions) at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Derry~Londonderry, where she worked on commissioning and delivering exhibitions and new projects with local and international artists. Prior to this she was the Assistant Curator at CCA (2013-14); a Co-Director at Catalyst Arts (2011-2013); and since 2011 has delivered projects in an independent capacity at organisations such as Lismore Castle Arts, Golden Thread Gallery, Millennium Court Art Centre, and others. She was is a recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Career Enhancement Scheme for Curatorial Practice (2012-13) and holds an MFA from Ulster University (2011).


The inaugural artists selected by the other 3 participating organisationin the Freelands Artist Programme are:

G39, Cardiff, Wales: Kelly Best, Ian Watson, Fern Thomas, Neasa Terry, Jennifer Taylor.

Site Gallery, Sheffield, England: Zoyander Street, Yuen Fong Ling, Alison J Carr, Siân Williams, Lucy Vann.

Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh: Aideen Doran, Rosie O’Grady, Sulaïman Majali, Stephanie Mann, Tako Taal.

About PS² and the Freelands Artist Programme
PS², as an artist-run organisation-, has always worked with artists at the start to mid-career and encouraged risk taking and experiment, radicalness and difference, and resolve to site context. We have a strong belief of the social relevance of art and are keen to support community engaged and context specific projects.

PS² was awarded this funding just after the volunteer run arts-collective heard that it had surprisingly lost its annual funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland due to funding cuts. To make the situation worse, PS² had also lost its premise in North Street due to the regeneration process in the city centre area. Despite this grave situation for the organisation, the artists and the Board decided to struggle on.
The Freedlands Award came just at the right time and was seen as a cheerful recognition by the private Foundation of the many projects with emerging artists which PS² has supported over the years.
After many years being funded by the Arts Council, the acceptance of private funding was new to the Board and raised the question of the morality of private funding.

For PS², the Freelands Artist Programme is an ideal opportunity to support artists at the start to mid-career level and to strengthen the arts ecology and the potential for contemporary Arts in Northern Ireland. By the end of the 5 year programme, twenty artists will have participated, so please bear in mind that this call-out for emerging artists will be repeated every year until 2021.
It is hoped that the Freelands Artist Programme will energise emerging artists and contribute to making the region culturally cool and exciting. 

This programme is funded by the Freelands Foundation.