Moving fittings from the Bar into galleries at VOID in January 2006. © VOID
Gallery goers to one of Derry’s most innovative contemporary art spaces now have the chance to relax and unwind with a pint in a famous local bar, which has been uprooted and installed in the gallery as a working pub/art project.
Tinny’s Bar in Derry was one of the few remaining bars in the Northern Irish city to retain its original fixtures and fittings. A favourite with locals, writers and artists alike it is now serving pints to regulars in its new temporary home in the galleries of Derry’s VOID gallery.
Currently closed for renovation, the owner of Tinney’s approached the gallery in 2006 to take its inner fabric and reconstruct the bar piece by piece in the gallery space. Local artists collective NULL took up the project and, inspired in equal measure by some of the great artists' bars of the past and by a range of similar art projects, they completed the installation in January 2006.
Easy does it! Pat, Damian and Kieran lay the carpet. © VOID
Part pub, part art project, the venture has been given the name Molly Aida after the Werner Herzog film ‘Fitzcarraldo’ in which the actor Klaus Kinski challenges the impossible by dragging the steamboat Molly Aida over a mountain in the Andes to continue its voyage.
“Tinny’s Bar has always been full of characters, it’s always been a place where people are just allowed to be themselves,” explained NULL artist member and VOID gallery manager Maoliosa Boyle. “Lots of different kinds of people drink there – it’s always been what you would call a community bar.”
Since its move to VOID most of the regular clientele have happily relocated, bringing a whole new audience to the gallery. A programme of art happenings and interventions have been woven into the regular programme of boozing with a series of discreetly installed works on the wall and a programme of audio visual interventions by guest artists.
Taking the fittings out of Tinneys. © VOID
The project taps into a lively tradition of relocating buildings and social spaces within the walls of art galleries. Michael Landy installed an exact replica of his father’s semi-detached house in the galleries of Tate Britain in 2004, whilst Francis Bacon’s studio now resides in all its chaotic glory in Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery.
But as well as exploring the nature of art installations as arenas for social interaction and other lofty concerns, the project addresses the concerns of preservation and conservation in the face of modernization. Many pubs in Derry have been renovated because of the smoking ban in pubs in Northern Ireland.
Tinneys was one of the last bastions of traditional drinking and socialising - boasting a singular character that has been lost in the growing modernisation of many of the older establishments. The disappearance of the nearby old Strand Bar being a case in point for many people in the city.
The Molly Aida at VOID after the railings were erected and lights fitted. © VOID
Stopping this relentless march of progress has been described by the artists Maoliosa Boyle, Paola Berardelli, Damien Duffy and Kieran Ferris as: “Challenging the impossible." Sadly the Molly Aida is not a permanent fixture, and is due to run until May 2007 when the refurbished Tinnys will re-open for business in its original location.
In the meantime, gallery visitors can soak up the atmosphere of a great old pub, and check out the adventurous programme of (slightly) more conventional exhibitions at VOID.
Showing until April 6 2007 is the remarkable multimedia work of Björk collaborator Gabriella Fridriksdottir. Offering a fascinating mixture of drawings, sculptures, music experiments and videos, the Icelandic artist has created a bizarre world that tends towards Surrealism.
An engaging exhibition probably best digested with the aid of a pint in the Molly Aida.