It’s very heartening that the talent the University of Atypical has nurtured and supported in regards to what disabled and D/deaf artists Artists are achieving is getting a wider recognition. Alice McCullough performance poet is one of the BBC Culture in Quarantine stars with a tag line: Alice is not ok!

Dancer Lynda Fearon, who featured in last year's Bounce festival with a beautiful emotive kitchen dance and VoiceOver, is now co-director of Croí Glan integrated dance company and will be performing at the IMMA in Dublin from 16-19 September. 

The current exhibition in the University of Atypical gallery has paintings and sculptures by artist  Declan Byrne who is a massive talent. These works are all the more poignant  when you realise that art is his main form of communication.

This is the first time I’ve seen his paintings in real life and whether it’s his view of being in church or looking in a men’s clothes shop, his colour and line are joyful. He is an expert in bringing his viewer in. His sculptural pieces started with seeing the beauty in hardened paint, then carefully assembling them over found objects, like cubic warts turning them into something else entirely.   

Some of his work was recently purchased by The Irish Museum of Modern Art and this is the first time you can see a large section of his oeuvre in Belfast. University of Atypical is a disabled-led arts charity, taking an empowerment-based approach towards supporting disabled and D/deaf people’s involvement in the arts. The organisation is based on the Ground Floor at the Cathedral Quarter Workspaces,109-113 Royal Avenue. Their Bounce festival is running in both Derry and Belfast this year over the weekend of 1-3 October. Email the group if you wish to volunteer.  


Ciaran Lennon 'Seen as it’s made = Made as it’s seen' has opened at The Golden Thread Gallery. It features small scale drawings and two large-scale pieces, one of which has been in the process of being made for fifty years. Ciaran is member of Aosdána, an Irish state honour conferred on artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland. The lightness and movement in his gigantic wall pieces belie their weight.

I was struck by his words: “Everybody’s field of vision is different. Beyond your field of vision, nothing is being seen at all. You rely on imagination to hold what is beyond your field of vision."  Which seems to sum up our society.
Cathedral Quarter Arts festival runs for another week The Remedy Club might tempt you out, simply for the sheer joy of listening to live music with other humans.

Belfast International Arts Festival have also launched their programme, running from 6 October to 7 November. Last year I particularly enjoyed their free talks online but wondered how this could be sustainable. They year they have developed a digital pass; £5 for an online talk, £15 for all six. It’s good to see there is recognition that not everyone can get out and about or feel comfortable doing so and online is still an important audience.

Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl launched the festival in the Lyric and spoke about how this festival helped her connect with Africa, her birth place. A particular memory was seeing Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a concert I also enjoyed.

While there are no 50-piece choirs or dance ensembles this year, fans of Oona Doherty, recent winner of the La Biennale di Venezia Silver Lion will get an opportunity to connect with her contemporary genius. With her open attitude and skilled passion for choreography and dance, she uses her art to link and inform communities. If you are not familiar with the concept of professional dance and community empowerment, catch her free at The Mac In conversation, on Saturday 9 October. She will talk about 'Fly the Flag', a large scale engagement project focusing on Human Rights and Article 19, the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Are you expressing it?

Not bad for a young women who started dancing when she was 12 at Saint Louise’s on the Falls Road, she will also be featuring at the new Irish Art Centre in New York which is due to open its doors in December.


It’s hard to magic up a full season of theatre when it usually takes months and sometimes years to prepare but it allows for a rare opportunity to view some of the background development stages. The new playwrights showcase at The Lyric gives you an exciting opportunity to see new work performed by professional actors, script in hand. Work by Rose Coogan, Caoimhe Farren, Caitlin Magnall-Kearns, Paul Mallon & Eléonore Maudet will be showcased.
In line with current trends there are events outside and walking tours, including one inspired by Samuel Beckett’s writings on Belfast.