ART was infiltrating the local landscape in many different ways last week, my least favourite being the new mural on the peace gates at Lanark Way celebrating 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement.
Father Martin Magill highlighted the image on Twitter and the mural illustrates why when I'm asked what kind of artist I am, I say I don't do murals. There is something very wrong with putting this image on so-called peace gates and the fact that no-one questioned it is alarming but not surprising.
………..very weird altogether https://t.co/AHUzl7fKYL— Bronagh Lawson (@CreativChangeNI) March 23, 2023
The Prison Arts Foundation has a mission to "inspire creativity and encourage personal and social change in offenders within the criminal justice system through the arts." At 2 Royal Avenue the Foundation is showing the work of previous participants. While some have their eye on emulating of Terry Bradley or Markey Robinson, others show they are putting their time towards developing their creativity – and no doubt being transformed by the result.
Also on show is a braille machine which is used to make books and translations for the blind. If you're interested in doing a course in basic braille there is no need to get locked up as the Foundation is offering one at their hub in William Street. Call 07759427278 for information.
In the Cultúrlann Neil Jordan launched Susan Hughes' new exhibition and spoke of her multi-talented ability not only to get interviews from people but to record, edit and make music for, as well as produce, the exhibition currently on show in the gallery.
In Léaspáin the gallery is split in two, making one half a kind of cinema experience where you can sit down and watch images and edited soundscape. Some of Susan's ideas come from intense experiences humans sometimes have in nature, phosphorescence being one of them – the startling movement of tiny bright lights found in sea water when the conditions permit. The videos talk of fairies, bogs and belief systems.
Susan's exhibition is a good example of what an MA can do for a persons work. Even though she already had qualifications in art and experience of exhibiting, it shifted her work to being more at home in a contemporary art gallery setting and put it on another level.
Upstairs, Cavan-based artist Michelle Harton's bright acrylic paintings are inspired by the mystical glimpses we can get in daily life, be it a sunset or reflections in water. I bumped into some about-to-graduate third year fine art students thinking about their next steps and looking for a studio. The galleries were alive with interest and chatter on a dark night and the effort of going out was, as usual, well worth it. The Cultúrlann remains the only gallery in the city open seven days a week.
On the same night in University of Atypical, artist Julie Magowan was showing the result of a two-year-long international creative learning project exploring how disabled and neuro-diverse adults can develop and design personalised survival kits to support their local and international travel requirements. Be it a furry pillow or a phone to home, the results are a dazzling diverse array of textures and images which would inspire anyone.
While performance artists congregated around the city centre for the Creativity and Conflict Symposium and the Belfast International Festival of Performance Art, Hugh O'Donnell's 'The Mystery of Tears' series of footage was shown in the sunken gallery of the Mac which received high footfall for this local artist who died unexpectedly before Christmas.
It's late night art next week on Thursday, April 6, with all good galleries participating.
The Mac opens its next exhibition on April 7 with Louise Wallace, Sharon Kelly and the Long Table a collection of various organisations working on different rights-based issues. If you think an issue that interests you will be there, maybe bring a folding chair?