THE Arts Council of Northern Ireland has an art collection that it adds to on an ongoing basis with an opportunity every year to submit work for consideration.
For an artist’s work to be included in a significant collection adds to your artistic credence, showing that your work has hit a certain standard according to the tastes of those selecting the work at the time.
The collection exhibition at the Cultúrlann is the first of ACNI’s visual arts programmes, exploring themes of language, language rights, communication, equality and cultural rights and shows the  diversity of some artists currently working in the North.
It’s curated by Joanna Johnston of ACNI and Emma Berkery. Joanna says of the exhibition: “The exhibition highlights the importance of purchasing artworks for this public collection, which directly supports artists in their artistic practices, and also provides an opportunity for people living in our local communities to see contemporary visual art. 
“We hope the exhibition will be enjoyed by all who pass through this popular arts space in the heart of West Belfast.”
The collection includes Belfast-based Mexican artist Elvira Santamaria Torres with a piece from her Death Mask series. Elvira is a dedicated artist well known within the performance art community locally with a wider name recognition internationally.



The exhibition also includes a piece by Ciaran Harper, a graduate of the University of Ulster, who combines his private portrait commissions within his art practice. Currently a studio member of QSS studios, his oil paintings honour his Irish Caribbean roots.


A series of work from Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell is on show – the materials used include hair and Biro.  Sinéad is a member of Bbeyond performance art and the Array Collective who recently won the Turner Prize.  

She works as a curator for Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, developing live cinema projects using the Ulster Television archive and is a CCA Derry-Londonderry Research Associate.
Shiro Masuyama, who likes to say he’s the only Japanese artist in Belfast, has developed self-sufficient life of photographs. There’s video of him shearing, then spinning, then making a jumper from the wool from a sheep in Ireland. For the second part of the series he crowdfunded a trip to Peru to weave a scarf from an alpaca he sheared himself. In the third in the series he’s making a beanie out of his own hair. In the fourth part of the series he goes to Mongolia to make a saddle from a Bactrian camel. This escapade finishes the series.
It’s been nice to see how the cultural diversity that is increasing locally is also reflected in the exhibition.
The second exhibition in the gallery for 2022 will be  from Eimear Nic Roibeáird. Her solo exhibition, An Chéad Bhean/The First Woman,  tells the story of Irish womanhood through paintings and written work based on the Cailleach figure. The opening night is  February 3 at  7pm. All welcome.