Brian McAvera wonders whether soulless consumerism is the message in Ian Cumberland’s dramatically installed artworks recently shown at Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast
Ian Cumberland is a Northerner: direct, efficient, practical, blackly humorous. Born in Banbridge in 1983, he studied at the University of Ulster (2002-6) but unusually for an Irish graduate, within two years he had had a solo show at a major London gallery, the Albemarle (2008), followed by another one in 2012. In-between times he attracted a slew of awards including the KPMG Emerging Artist award, the first prize at the Davy Portrait award, third prize in the BP National Portrait award, and the Ireland-US Council and Irish Arts Review Portraiture Award. Not surprisingly, he was steadily commissioned to do portraits, and, equally unsurprisingly, ‘portraits’ in the shape of human beings clothed or unclothed, full-length or as ‘heads’ dominated his work at the Albemarle and at his 2016 Millennium Court exhibition.
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