News Bulletin 211

“But what end?”*

Alan Phelan Exhibition

8 May – 14 June 2014 

Opening Thursday 8 May 6-8pm

Golden Thread Gallery

84 -94 Great Patrick Street, Belfast , BT1 2LU.

Admission free. All welcome, however parental guidance is advised.   

Car Parking


“What is the meaning of it, Watson?” said Holmes solemnly as he laid down the paper. “What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable. But what end? There is the great standing perennial problem to which human reason is as far from an answer as ever.”

This quote, from ‘The Adventure of the Cardboard Box,’ opens Alan Phelan’s exhibition of new, recent and re-configured work, centred around an adaptation of this story in a new film titled “Edwart & Arlette”. With characters, dialogue and settings all reworked, this stylish whodunit hands over the detective work to the audience, since Sherlock himself has been removed from the narrative. With the central characters modelled on a photograph of a French art critic and museum curator, the film shifts into a different range of references, stemming from a collection of hand photographs which the artist used to determine the shot design and dialogue. The words and sentence fragments found on the images were developed into dialogue and remain in the order they were found, forcing the narrative to take some unexpected turns.

Re-configuring works, his own and other artists, has become an important element in Phelan’s practice. Works are not just re-contextualised, but re-named, spun, and connected to different ideas. All together the show explores through various objects and installations “a circle of misery, violence and fear” as with Sherlock’s plea above but thankfully negotiated through humour and inventiveness.+


“Belfast would be the first place”*

‘The Adventure of the Cardboard Box’ is the only story in the Canon to mention “Belfast” or “the north of Ireland.”  As all members of The Crew will know, or should know, we owe our Society’s name to this tale. It is also a story which has aroused a degree of controversy. Indeed Conan Doyle insisted that it was not included in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the second collection of the short stories to be published in book form, because, he would later admit, of the “sex element” in it. It may all seem fairly ridiculous to us now, in the modern era, but we have to acknowledge Victorian sensitivities surrounding anything that involved adultery, whether implied or stated.  Conan Doyle would later relent and the story was subsequently included in His Last Bow (collection). Some editions have restored it to its rightful place in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

*Card      +This Bulletin includes content from the Golden Thread Gallery website.