AM Light

Kings of Neon

“While the finished, wired, positioned and lit shape of a neon sign is undoubtedly a work of art, let your attention fix on their making and consider the elements of performance involved: the precision of Adrian McNevison’s hands, their bareness, his movements, the turning and bending, the unguarded flames, the redness of the hot glass, its simultaneous strength and fragility, the knowledge of the design, and its abstractness while it takes form. It is this specialist craft that produced Johanna Leech’s vivid yellow Guns & Gold (2019), the work whose production set Leech on this research journey concerning neon at Havelock House.

A replica of a pawn shop sign photographed in Kingston, New York state, Guns & Gold shown in Belfast cannot help but evoke the violent years during which the UTV broadcasts re-presented in this exhibition were providing entertainment, glamour and special interest programming".

Text adapted from the essay Welcome to Havelock House by P.E.A. Blair

Guns & Gold is the linchpin of this exhibition. When asked to respond to the UTV collection Johanna reconnected with AM Light. Neon became a way to bring together the history of UTV and the artists now inhabiting Havelock House, inviting people to explore the ground floor of the building through this exhibition. The warm golden glow drew visitors down a dark corridor into a room showcasing AM Light. Visitors could examine the materials used to create neon signs alongside artefacts from UTV. In January 2022 Johanna Leech and Stuart Calvin filmed Adrian and Chris in their workshop bending glass and sharing their story.


Guns & Gold by Johanna Leech made with assistance from AM Light (2019): Artist, curator, and arts event programmer. Her practice is that of an artist-collector, an explorer presenting her discoveries. She is based at Flax Art Studios. She recently had been researching the role of museums in our society. Bending Glass has been instigated and organised by artist Johanna Leech in response to the Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive UTV residency programme.

The animation of Donnelly's Sausages is by Fionnuala Doran, an Irish artist, living and working in Scotland. She graduated with an MA in Visual Communication from the Royal College of Art in 2015 and lectures in Illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art. She came down with a bad case of comic-fever in 1990 and has never recovered.

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