‘Mayor’s Parlour’, Belfast’s City Hall, UK

10 December 2021 – 30 June 2022

Curated by Jan Morrow, Emma Campbell and Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell.

The showcase includes work by 2021 Turner Prize winners, Array Collective, as well as an invited selection of artists whose work ranges across disciplines and career stages. These artists and specific artworks reflect Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl’s interest in social justice movements, and illustrate the work she is doing to further diversity and inclusion during her term. The showcase represents Belfast-based artists from a range of backgrounds, including ethnic and cultural minority communities, LGBTQIA individuals, and activists for women’s rights to bodily autonomy. In the Mayor’s words, ‘Belfast, all of it, belongs to each of us, and we should have pride in all its glories’.

Artists: Anushiya Sundaralingam, Array Collective, Ben Malcolmson, Ciaran Harper, Clodagh Lavelle, Dorothy Hunter, Emma Campbell, Factotum, Grace McMurray, Johanna Leech, John Rainey,  Joy Gerrard, Laura Nelson, Marta Dyczkowska, Peter Surginor, Sally O’Dowd, Shiro Masuyama, Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell, Sinéad O’Donnell, Stephen Millar, Thomas Wells, Wee Nuls

Johanna Leech

THINK, screen print, 2019

Johanna Leech is an artist based at Flax Art Studios. Her practice is that of artist-collector. This work references the biggest marketing campaign of all time, by IBM, and the artist collects things associated with it, salvaged from an abandoned IBM complex in New York State. The artist’s father worked for IBM in Belfast. She describes herself as an explorer presenting her discoveries. Her work draws on international folk traditions and her vaguely ethnographic, museological presentation enables viewers to create their own narratives as they are led through unusual rumours, local lore, historic or accurate happenings to moments of collective consciousness.

Wanderlust and Fantastic Oddities

The exhibition runs from 2nd November 2019 – 21st December 2019.  Solo show at Millennium Court Arts Centre.

Come explore obscure and familiar collections from other lands.  The artist takes you on a road trip through America, and shows you collections objects from Japan, Norway, Iceland, Australia and more.  You can take part by divulging a dream story that could be performed on the night, or by surrendering an unwanted gift in her Re-Gift Amnesty.

Leech’s practice stems from a broad fascination with the world around her. Realised through: drawing; archives; digital imagery; interactive social practice; story; moving image; and installation. These allow the viewer to create their own narratives as they are brought through unusual rumors, local lore, historic or accurate happenings to moments of collective consciousness.
“I see my art practice as an adventure.  I’m an explorer presenting my discoveries. I select and create imagery that draws in the viewer through the familiar and the commonplace.”
The viewer will be presented with an amalgam of installations, minimalist drawing and make-shift collections. Stemming from a lifelong obsession with collecting, the subject matter combines influences from travel, social interactions, history, iconography, myths, legends and museum categorization. These are presented in humorous ways that entice the viewer to decipher connections and explore the multiple narratives set before them.
“She seems to have a knack for finding the bizarre and unique, sometimes under your very nose, in locations you pass by every day. There are moments when her work can make one feel, as Walker Percy would say, “sunk into our own everydayness.” This exchange is perhaps what is most compelling about Leech’s practice; it challenges the unexamined inheritances of our day-to day affairs.”  David Hawkins for Cville newspaper, USA, 2013.

A FREE bus will leave Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast at 6.45pm, and return at 9pm.

To take part in Leech’s dream story survey click here – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MPLWHX8

A selection of these will be performed on the opening night at 8pm.

Check out her Re-gift Amnesty events at Sustain Market collaborating with Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell.  Events on 17th November and 22nd December. https://www.facebook.com/events/406769466703464/

‘The Odd Collection’ exhibition at Pollen Studios


7th February 2019

Cabinets of Curiosity, also known as ‘wonder rooms’ have displayed collections since at least the 1500’s. They have been used to categorise natural history objects, tell stories about the world and it’s history (sometimes not letting the truth get in the way of a good story) and served to establish a social ranking in society. The Odd Collection exhibition was inspired by the odd collection of favoured objects and the collection of odd objects that find their way into our homes and especially artists studios.

With invited artists, we will convert the Pollen Gallery into a ‘wonder room’, with a nod to the history of museum natural science collections and wink to the possibilities of undiscovered treasures.

Participating artists : Aimee Magee, Aisling Magee, Aisling O’Beirn, Alice Clark, Deirdre McKenna, Jayne Cherry, Jenny Davies, Johanna Leech, Kate Ritchie, Locky Morris, Nathan Crothers, Sharon Adams, SInéad Breathnach Cashell, Zara Lyness.

’24’ exhibition Dec 2014 at Golden Thread Gallery

24                     4-19th December 2014, Curated by Sarah McAvera

Sinead Bhreathnach- Cashell, Charlotte Bosanquet, Stuart Calvin, Christopher J Campbell, Sheelagh Colclough, Mick Cullen, Leo Devlin, Sarah Faulkner, Ciara Finnegan, Graham Gingles, Gerry Gleason, Deirdre Hawthorne, Johanna Leech, Lisa Malone, Clement McAleer, Colin McGookin, Brain J Morrison, Geoff Molyenx, Hazel Neill, Brendan O’Neill, Robert Peters, Anne Quail, Duncan Ross & Katrina Sheena Smyth

24 aims to capture the excitement of opening an advent calendar: each door a miniature surprise. The twenty-four artists selected are an eclectic mix, not a combination you would necessarily expect. Video, drawing, painting, photography and installation are all represented, with themes ranging from the extraordinary to the minutiae of existence.

My piece ‘Do Not Touch Penguins’, chalk marker on window, Wade pottery whimsie

Flax 25 – Flax Art Studios 25th Anniversary Exhibition & Artist Talk

Exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery 6th – 27th Nov 2014  [my piece below]

25yrs Flax show in GT Nov 2014 my drawing

In 1989 a group of students graduating from the University of Ulster fine art MA established a studio group and secured premises on the top floor of a 19th century flax spinning mill on the Crumlin Road in Belfast. Flax Art was born.

Twenty-five years on Flax Art Studios, now located in the city centre, is celebrating by looking to the past and planning for the future. The year long programme of events will culminate in an exhibition in the Golden Thread Gallery which will document the early years of Flax Art and the studios relationship with the city of Belfast, the network of international artists who have participated in the international residency programme, and the work of current studio holders. Alongside the exhibition a 25th anniversary publication will be launched.

This exhibition will coincide with a ground breaking symposium on future models for sustainable and affordable studio provision in Belfast to be held on the 6 – 7 of November at the Black Box. A programme of Flax Art Studios based artist led talks will also take place throughout the exhibition at the Golden Thread Gallery: –

Talks Programme – Time: 1pm – 2pm

Tuesday 11th November – Alastair MacLennan

Tuesday 18th November – Ryan Moffett

Tuesday 25th November – Barbara Freeman

Thursday 27th November – Johanna Leech

Belfast Open Studios & Artist Show and Tell presentation

Header-1 My studio in FLAX is open as part of ‘Belfast Open Studios’ ran by Visual Artists Ireland. http://belfastopenstudios.com

“Celebrating it’s 25th Birthday, Flax includes some of Belfast’s most well known artists. Flax Art Studios is committed to developing and strengthening the visual arts sector in Belfast, and has provided 25 years of best practice work at the cutting edge of contemporary art.”

Johanna flax studio Oct 2014.1

Johanna flax studio Oct 2014.2

Above photographs of my studio

On Thursday 23rd October I’m giving a ‘Show & Tell’ presentation in the Black Box about my practice. Which was also part of Belfast Festival at Queens. “Quickfire artist talks at the Black Box – Each day at the Black Box we are hosting a lively, fast-paced hour of artists talks. This is a unique opportunity to hear from ten artists talking about their work in this series of revealing ‘Show & Tells’. This free event provides a fascinating insight into the range of work being made by artists today.” Belfast Festival at Queens website listing