Tonya McMullan

Tonya McMullan studied Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2004 she has since developed her practice to include a range of media including performance. Currently based in Belfast she was a co director at Catalyst Arts (2010 – 2012), and is a founding member of the PRIME Collective. Her work has been presented in the UK, Ireland, Serbia, Turkey, Asia and the U.S, and she is a recent recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council Artist International Development Award.

The focus of Tonya’s practice is the exploration of everyday life in the public space through context-specific, site specific, participatory and performative interactions and interventions within a place. The visual outcomes of the work are different from one project to another and are responsive to the space and site where they happen, she often collaborates with other artists and the public. The work is presented in unusual, in-between and non art spaces and draws on the unique qualities of a space sometimes relying on public interactions to complete the work. Themes of the everyday run throughout the work alongside strong autobiographical references. Tonya uses her own personal experiences as material to make work that explores our environment and its confines in an attempt to make the work both challenge and touch the participant / viewer.

It’s an interesting condensation of possibilities lying side by side with the construct and concept of failure – of meaning to emerge, of memories to form, of change to be affected [or inflicted]. Negotiating between failure’s embodiment, its affect and its impact is Tonya McMullan’s Criteria for Failure’
Diana Damian on Criteria for Failure, performance presented at the SPILL National Platform, Ipswich, England, November 2012

Her effort to revalue the aesthetics of so called “little arts” (see William Morris) remains worth of attention. Each of the things she displays are treated not just as a property, but as a fellowship between people and things.  Slavaka Sverakova on ‘Transform’ by Tonya McMullan, performative installation at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 2013