Grin & Bear It
Cruel humour in art and life
20 March - 5 July 2009

Curated by Claire Feely and Matt Packer

Participating Artists: James Beale, Stella Capes, Common Culture, Henry Coombes, Francisco Goya, Catherine Harty, William Hogarth, W. K. Haselden, Friedrich Kunath, Peter Land, Sean Landers, Nevan Lahart, Leo McCann, Harold Offeh, David Sherry, David Shrigley, Stephen Sutcliffe, Bedwyr Williams, and Ed Young.  Also featuring archive material on the Irish folk tradition of Wake Games, Skellig Lists & a display of contemporary editorial cartoons.

Have you ever found yourself amused by someone else's misfortune? Chuckled at the bad luck of others? The distresses of daily life seem to generate endless humorous moments for ourselves and others. Grin & Bear It: cruel humour in art & life is an exhibition that explores the nature of this humour, especially in relation to the mockeries, disappointments and minor cruelties of everyday life. Grin & Bear It considers how artists work with humour as a tool to examine social behaviours. Poking fun at life's absurdities conceals the fine line that exists between laughter and sadness. Although there are recognisable jokes throughout the exhibition, it focuses specifically on what it is that makes us resort to humour in difficult situations. When faced with a cruel world, sometimes it's best to just grin & bear it.

Wake Games & Skellig Lists

Grin & Bear It will explore practices associated with the Irish tradition of the ‘merry wake' through the presentation of objects and first-hand accounts of wake games from folklore collections. Boisterous games often played when ‘waking' a dead person, including practical jokes and rough-and-tumble, may appear curious today, but these accounts recall a time and place where even the corpse was not exempt from being used as part of a practical joke. Skellig Lists, on the other hand, were slanderous poems published and read aloud on Skellig night. much to the embarrassment and of course amusement of the local population. From old Irish satirical poems to the grotesque comedy of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal *, Ireland has a long practice of derisive wit and mocking humour, a tradition that is wonderfully illustrated in the chaotic scenes of a painting of Skellig Night by James Bea le, which will form part of the exhibition.

Silly Me

The exhibition features contemporary works by artists employing video, photography and traditional media, which capture the humour in pers onal defeats and everyday disappointments. In his video work, Running for the Bus , David Sherry documents his pathetic attempts to catch a bus over sixty times while carrying heavy shopping bags; attempts that are both humorous and painfully futile.There is a different sort of cruel humour in Stella Capes' The Clap Trap , a wooden sculpture designed to produce the sound of applause. With The Clap Trap no audience is required; just turn the handle for instant gratification! In replacing the sounds of human response with a crude mechanical simulation, Capes ' work puts pathos to the personal desire of popular reaction.