by Rita Duffy
One of Northern Ireland's leading contemporary artists, Duffy was born in Belfast in 1959 and educated at the University of Ulster's Art College. Initially her work concentrated primarily on the figurative, narrative tradition. Works are often autobiographical and rooted in Irish identity, history and politics. Her work has evolved but remains intensely personal with overtones of the surreal, and homage to the language of magical realism. She has initiated several large scale collaborative art projects, and she was made an honorary member of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects for her developmental work within the built environment.
Banquet is a deceptively simple composition. At the sandy centre of a stockade constructed with familiar materials used by the British army, sits a mahogany dining table, its six matching chairs all empty. The colour palette is also familiar, warm grey and burnt red brick tones of an Ulster town.
This is one of two works held by the University, from a series made in 1997 which reflect Duffy's preoccupation with watchtowers, the landscape of surveillance. They both currently hang in the School of Law at the Main Site Tower, Queen's University Belfast.