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Willie Doherty

Born 1959, Derry/Londonderry

Willie Doherty has been a pioneering figure in contemporary art film and photography for four decades. Exploring the relationship between landscape and memory, Doherty responds to mysterious isolated settings that conceal a troubled past. Though his primary geographic reference is Northern Ireland, and especially his native Derry – a city divided along sectarian lines during the ‘Troubles’, Doherty has trained his lens on sites of contested history elsewhere in the world, including Granada, Pennsylvania and the US/Mexico border. Studying these terrains in forensic detail, Doherty’s video and photo works reveal the impossibility of objectivity and historical truth, often using diptychs to set contradictory points of view against each other. His videos unfold slowly, sometimes combining material evidence with haunting fictional monologues that speak of shame, deception, brutality and its aftermath, as if leaking the stories contained within the landscape. Assessing how these sites appear to us now, Doherty uses powerful language and disorientating imagery to reflect on how we approach histories of trauma.

Willie Doherty lives and works in Donegal.


Bio & Career

Willie Doherty is a native of Derry, Northern Ireland. Basing much of his work around Derry he uses photography, video and sound installations to explore the fallibility of human memory and recollection. Doherty studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast, and began exhibiting internationally in the early 1980s.

Nominated twice for the Turner Prize, in 1994 and 2003, his work has been the subject of many solo museum shows. In 2002 IMMA presented, False Memory, the first major solo exhibition of Doherty’s work in Ireland. Doherty represented Ireland in the Venice Biennale in 1993, 2005 and 2007. His critically acclaimed  work Secretion was shown at IMMA in 2013.2


Appears in

  • 2020, Willie Doherty, Where/ Dove, catalogue, Ulster Museum, Belfast and FMAV, Modena
  • 2016, Willie Doherty, Home, catalogue, Villa Merkel, Germany
  • 2015, Willie Doherty, Again and Again, catalogue, Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian, CAM, Lisbon
  • 2013, Willie Doherty, Unseen, catalogue, City Factory Gallery, Derry/Londonderry’s UK City of Culture,2013. Publisher: Matt’s Gallery, London, Nerve Centre, Derry
  • 2012, Willie Doherty, Lapse, catalogue, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, July 2012, text by Isabel Nolan
  • 2011, Willie Doherty, Disturbance, catalogue, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, 2
  • 2009,  Willie Doherty, Buried, catalogue, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, text by Willie Doherty and Fiona Bradley
  • 2009, Willie Doherty, Requisite Distance, New Haven, Yale University Press; text by Charles Wylie
  • 2007, Ghost Story, Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, Venice Willie Doherty, Yilmaz Dziewior, Matthais Mühling, Kunstverein Hamburg
  • 2006, Willie Doherty, Out of Position, Marina munguia, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City
  • 2002, Willie Doherty, False Memory, London: Merrell Publishers Ltd; Dublin: Irish Museum of Modern Art; texts by Carolyn Christov-Barkargiev and Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith
  • 2002, Willie Doherty, True Nature, Chicago: The Renaissance Society; text by Caoimhin Mac Giolla Léith Willie Doherty, RE-RUN, 25 Bienal de São Paulo exhibition brochure, São Paulo: The British Council; text by Charles Merewether
  • 2001, Willie Doherty, How it Was, Belfast: Ormeau Baths; text by Daniel Jewesbury
  • 2000, Willie Doherty, extracts from a file, DAAD, Berlin; essays by Meschede, Friedrich, Eva Schmidt, Hans-Joachim Neubauer
  • 1999, Willie Doherty, Dark Stains, San Sebastian: Koldo Mitxelena; essays by Lorés, Maite, and Martin McLoone
  • 1998, Somewhere Else, Liverpool: Tate Gallery, in association with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT); essay by Ian Hunt
  • 1997, Willie Doherty, Same Old Story, London: Matt’s Gallery; essays by Martin McLoone and Jeffrey Kastner
  • 1996, Willie Doherty, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; essay by Olivier Zahm
  • 1996,Willie Doherty, In the Dark. Projected Works, Bern: Kunsthalle Bern; essays by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Ulrich Loock Willie Doherty,
  • 1996, The Only Good One is a Dead One, Edmonton: The Edmonton Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery; Lisbon: Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian; essay by Jean Fisher No Smoke Without Fire, Matt’s Gallery, London; text by Willie Doherty
  • 1994, At the End of the Day, British School at Rome; essay by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev
  • 1993, Willie Doherty, Partial View, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin in association with the Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University and Matt’s Gallery, London; essay by Dan Cameron
  1. “Willie Doherty” Kerlin Gallery;tab-1:slideshow