Launchpad exhibition at Craft NI features four individuals with very different takes on Craft. Clare Skelton has come up with an elegant way of transforming heirloom gold with her jewellery portraits.

First she casts in pewter from the original piece, something you might find down the back of your drawer, then afterwards melts it down and use the material for a new contemporary piece.


The example in the exhibition is a bracelet that got turned into a ring. After graduating from Belfast School of Art, Clare worked in an auction room which was partly the inspiration for her jewellery portraits.

An interesting way to hold onto a memory but transform it into something new. Belfast could do with a lot more of that.

It could be useful for anyone wanting to leave a piece of jewellery as an inheritance but there is more than one candidate that you want to leave the piece to.  The solution: Cast as many jewellery portraits as required and, hey presto, everyone in the family is happy, 

The exhibition also includes Anne Butler, who spent many years in Asia, and has made porcelain wall pieces and sculptures with cyanotype which means they change colour depending on how much they are exposed to light.

I have only come across this process in printmaking before so this is an interesting innovation. Put a piece in a cupboard for a while and it will be a different tone of blue when you take it out. Move it to a different place in your house and depending on the light it will change again. 

Claire Skelton and Anne Butler are part of the Launchpad development programme and exhibition at Craft NI, 115-119 Royal Avenue (opposite Central Library), open Monday – Saturday 10–5pm. The exhibition runs until 22 July. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland 


The Belfast Photo Festival is finished for another year but the interesting news is it is now going to be an annual event. It would be nice to feature a Belfast-based artist-in-residence for the festival. Certainly, we have many talented photographers.

If you have not seen Unperson, the exhibition at Cultúrlann by Tim Franco, there is still time to catch it until 30 July. The exhibition is about or North Korean Defectors featuring a picture of the defector and the place on the North/South Korean border where they defected. I was particularly struck by the quotes the defectors give as to why they defected. 


Can you identify with Kim Cheol-woong? He says, “I escaped North Korea to be free to play any music” Lee Go-yeon says: “I crossed the river to China out of despair and starvation”. Han Song-i was inspired to become a defector by watching TV. “After watching illegal South Korean dramas, I wanted to become a celebrity,” she says. 

I was struck by the young women who felt the grass is greener on the other side and tried to go back to North Korea after her new life did not live up to how she thought it would play out. Could life ever be so bad you want to move to North Korea? Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Next up in Cultúrlann August 5 is Stephen Shaw the man with the most analytical watercolour talent I have ever met. Known for capturing Belfast at its most derelict  and making it a thing of beauty, his portrait of a breeze-blocked shop at Ardoyne caught the eye of the Royal Ulster Academy a number of years ago. His mastery of the watercolour medium is not matched anywhere in Ireland.

Artists at the mill will also be showing work in for the duration of the festival in An Chultúrlann. I really enjoy going to Saint Mary’s University College during Féile to see the visual arts  but this year over twenty visual arts exhibitions will be online during the Feile.

Mentioning the RUA, the deadline for submissions for their annual show in the Ulster Museum is 30 July.