street archaeology

street archaeology, an audio-visual biography of Donegall Street, Belfast.

November 2005 - November 2005

Street Archaeology is an audio visual biography of Donegall Street, specially commissioned from national and international artists and displayed at various locations along the Street; an outdoor project about urban memory and changing identity.

Various sites/ shop windows in Donegall Street, Cathedral Quarter and PS2, 18 Donegall Street


  •  aaa, Paris
  • Seamus Harahan, Belfast
  • Grace Weir, Dublin
  • Dave Beech, Manchester
  • Chris Murphy, Belfast
  • Mark Orange, New york
  • Gillian McIver, London
  • With contributions from Biggy Bigmore, Daniel Jewesbury and Ruth Morrow

Normally, Archaeology has something to do with digging, bits of pottery, old walls and bones. But what if one doesn’t use a spade but a video camera, a tape recorder or writing as tools to discover the place?
Art is usually shown in the clean white spaces of museums or galleries, where one whispers. But what if you encounter contemporary multi-media art in a hairdresser’s window, or in the surroundings of a flower shop? Will they then become a museum?

‘Street Archaeology’ will try this out: a creative excavation and an open air art trail. We have invited 7 internationally known artists to take Donegall Street, one of the oldest arterial routes in Belfast, as their subject and show their findings along the street. A creative biography of forgotten stories, myths, buildings and the people who use(d) it or work(ed) there. As much an image of the past as a description of the present and a vision of the future.
The project doesn’t just depend on the imagination of the artists, but also the support and courage of the people behind the shops, businesses and institutions. It is them, who host the film/text/ sound piece during the week, a challenge, which we hope, will transform the street and encourage a dialogue. And, perhaps most importantly, invite all passers- by, building and street users to discover the work. A challenging process, a walk and a journey to different locations, times, realities.

‘Street Archaeology’ includes more than 30 unusual, everyday galleries. Enough to make a lucky find and to start your own digging.

Many thanks to all participating shops/offices/institutions in Donegall Street:
Modern Office Supplies, Ewart Properties, Cunningham Coates, Printers Café, Belfast Exposed, Ellison Jewellers, Open Door, Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, Church of Ireland Diocesan Office, SHAC, Community Arts Forum, Hair Friendly, Michael Quinn, Bagel:bagel, Belfast Central Training, Factotum, Cathedral Flowers, Marty Quinn, Kennedy Florist, Champagne&Roses, Computer Connections, LA VIBELLE, Law Centre, Street Cabs, St.Patrick’s Presbytery.