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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Art brings bingo to the toilet
By Nuala McCann
BBC News Website

Visitors to the toilet in a Belfast art gallery could find their numbers are well and truly up.

It may even be a case of spending a penny and winning a pound.

Bingo as an art form

The fine art of bathroom bingo is on offer at the Catalyst Arts Gallery in the city's College Court.

Just pick up your card, a pen and listen to the caller on the tannoy. You can do your numbers while you're... doing your numbers.

Bingo in the bathroom is not just a flash in the pan. It is an unusual piece of conceptual art, its creators say.

Artist Deirdre McKenna and sonic artist Cavan Fyans collaborated on the new installation.

They decided to link up loudspeakers to Kelly's Eye bingo hall, a co-tenant in the building which houses the gallery, as part of their new exhibition called "Bring the Noise".

Bingo is considered low culture, the gallery is considered high culture and I wanted to bring the two together
Deirdre McKenna

The caller's words are broadcast into the bathroom from the bingo hall. Cards and pens are thoughtfully provided alongside the loo roll.

Artist Deirdre McKenna, a former director of Catalyst Arts Gallery, said she had the idea after years of listening to the low hum of the bingo calling coming up into the gallery from the bingo hall below.

"It filters up through the walls. When I was working, I would listen to the bingo, it was very distant, but always there and it became a kind of mantra," she explained.

She decided that it would be fun to bring that sound into the gallery - "a live call-in for the bathroom," she said.

It was also a way to bring bingo - generally considered a working class game - into the art gallery which is traditionally perceived as a middle class area.

Full house? Bingo in the toilet

"I am an artist from a working class area of Dublin and I used to go to bingo with my granny. It is a game that is predominantly played by women," she said.

"It is considered low culture, the gallery is considered high culture and I wanted to bring the two together."

Colin Clarke, co-director of Catalyst said bathroom bingo is part of a wider project called "Bring the Noise" which runs at the gallery until 29 October.

International artists and musicians have been invited to install artworks, hold workshops and performe live.

Polynesian chanting, freestyle jamming, music video making and electro clash madness are on the programme.

The gallery, which opened in 1993, offers a forum for cutting edge art in terms of both performance and video as well as traditional forms.


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