Cathedral Quarter Arts festival starts this week with a veritable tapestry of events — the vast majority in-person as we emerge tentatively from lockdown. The whiskey tour is sold out but with many artists filled with pent-up energy from a lack of gigging it’s an opportunity to experience something otherworldly — in the safest possible way.

All musical tastes are catered for from traditional with Kila to Ska with From the Specials - Neville Staple to name but a few. In the comedy section, many shows are sold out which tells you we are all in the need of a laugh. However, Nabil Abdulrashid catches my eye. Fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, his material is rooted in growing up under military rule in Nigeria and falling into legal trouble as a teenager in South London.

If it’s local comedy talent you want, Paul Currie never disappoints and with a new show called Neets at the Deer's Head you will capture some of his genius. 

Bronagh Gallagher, who needs no introduction, is playing with her band in the Marquee in Writers Square. Famous for her musical and screen talent, she has been working on a new album.

For anyone interested in mural art, Hit the North is back on Sunday 5 September on Union and Kent Street where you can wander round and watch the murals as they develop. Over fifty local, national and International artists are taking part. I remember one confused man talking to one of the mural painters a couple of years ago, asking where he was from. Whe he heard it was Colombia he shook his head, saying,
“I never thought I’d see the day that someone would come to Belfast to paint on our walls. How times have changed”.  

In the visual art section, it’s late Night Art so all the galleries will be open late on Thursday 2 September. If your going out and about call into Tivoli Barber shop on North street where architect and agitator Declan Hill is exhibiting Modelle für Eine Stadt (Model for a City) his architectural models and a personal art collection selected from contemporary Belfast artists. 

I admire Performance artists for their professionalism and dedication to a very misunderstood art form. Indeed, sometimes I even join in. Bbeyond is celebrating twenty years in existence. It is “committed to promoting the practice of performance art and artists in Northern Ireland and further raise people’s consciousness of live/performance art as being integral to the world in and around us, inspiring reflection and enriching lived experience.” 

WRITING ON THE WALL: Murals-as-you-watch

WRITING ON THE WALL: Murals-as-you-watch

Hattie Godfrey is one of their new commission artists who will perform to passers-by at 3-5 North Street from 8pm-6am. This is the new satellite project space location of Flax Artists’ Studios. Thirty Five early career artists or recent graduates will take studio space in the building to help them on their career path. 

Hattie is a Belfast-based performance artist, writer and researcher whose work primarily considers her own and society's increasingly complicated relationship with concepts of ‘care’.  One of her previous pieces had her regularly reading to bored cows as "a way of reshaping the previous six months she had spent in hospital waiting rooms due to a chronic health condition.” She has also started to work with others peoples experience of chronic conditions.

Explains the festival programme: “Hattie’s key focus is the development of alternative languages for describing episodes of suffering; believing that by actively engaging in dialogue surrounding our own experiences of suffering, we can begin to understand, reclaim and make aesthetically significant, what was previously painful.” Belfast knows a lot about suffering less about reclaiming it and developing it into something  aesthetically significant. So if your in the vicinity have a look through the window on one of the nights. 

Part of the reason Flax has found a space on North Street is because of its dereliction. What does it say about us as a city that six art galleries have moved or are moving into this area — unplanned but only possible because of neglect.  


Susan Hughes, famed for her own art and fiddle-playing, is part of Pssquared's Emerging Curators programme, showing in the Gallery until 4 September. Her three selected artists, Euan Gébler, Nollaig Molloy and Selma Makela share Susan’s obsession with water and elements.

Another great opportunity for beginner writers this time Books Beyond Boundaries an offshoot from the University of Ulster supported by the Arts Council of NI are looking for writers of colour, ethnic minorities and indigenous groups to imagine their future, exploring the cultural multiplicity of our contemporary society through sci-fi, horror and fantasy. the course offers  professional mentorship via zoom ten weeks of writing workshops and will produce an anthology of published work at the end. The wonderful Belfast writer Nandi Jola is one of the mentors. The free Course starts 7 September.