Free tickets for the Dreamachine spectacle are now available online. If you missed my previous article, it is an immersive experience commissioned by UK Unboxed that is coming to Carlisle Memorial church in Carlisle Circus at the end of July.

Over ten thousand people have already experienced it in London and Cardiff and after Belfast it’s heading to Edinburgh. The initiative is inspired by an extraordinary but little-known 1959 invention by artist-inventor Brion Gysin.

His experimental home-made device used flickering light to create vivid illusions, kaleidoscopic patterns and explosions of colour in the mind of the viewer. And now we have a place where visitors can sit around in a circle to experience it – the Dreamachine.

It is a unique art science experience and claims to the  “first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed”. 

Art is a great barrier buster. A visual or sensory connection can overcome many barriers and enable  anyone to experience creative expression. It can be a life-long obsession. To mark UN World Refugee Day 2022, Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast has been distributing 350 free art packs to child refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Northern Ireland.  

GTG hopes the packs will help welcome children and families to their new home. The packs contain a unique colouring book of landmarks of each county in the North created by artist Katharine Paisley.

GTG is working with community organisations and charities to distribute packs to refugee and asylum seeker families from countries including Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine and the packs are available in Farsi, Arabic and English.

GTG Deputy Director Sarah McAvera said: “Over the past three years, Golden Thread Gallery has worked with a range of funders on projects to improve diversity, accessibility  and inclusion in the NI arts sector. We believe art is a way to find connection and overcome barriers and to celebrate creativity and imagination for everyone."

GTG has a rolling programme of moving image works by Northern Irish artists who use documentary formats to bring colonial practices to light. if you missed the 100 years of happiness, a film by Stuart Sloan and Stephen Hackett which assembled hundreds of clips of film exploring this theme, it’s running in the gallery from June 28 to July 9.

The Royal Ulster Academy annual exhibition is open for submissions, with a deadline of midday on July 28 for an opportunity to exhibit at the Ulster Museum in October. The process follows the well-established route of inviting anyone to submit an artwork. Submissions are welcomed from artists working in a range of artforms, including painting, drawing, print, sculpture, photography, textiles, digital, video, audio, multi-media, glass and ceramics. Like any open submission exhibition opportunity, your chances of being selected depend on the panel doing the selecting and their particular eye for art.

This year there is a documentary being made about the submission and selection process, much like the one completed about submitting to the Royal Hibernian Society in Dublin. Trying to lift a veil on how it all works which will make interesting viewing. So remember, if you're not in a competition you cannot actually win it – so why not have a go?

Finally, while Array Collective have been off performing at Glastonbury, North Belfast resident and performance artist Sinead O'Donnell has been collaborating with Selina Bonelli (Maidstone, England) and Marta Bosowska (Poznan, Poland) to create 'Threshhold' (Táirseach in Gaelic and Próg in Polish), a new piece looking at ways of continuing to make art in a post-pandemic world.

After a period of online dialogue and research, Selina and Marta arrived in Belfast last week and have been  researching and developing material which cumulated in  a live residency and public performance in Writer's Square which included a few passers-by who unexpectedly joined in.  

It has been funded by the Four Nations International Fund of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Arts Council of England, the Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland and is supported by the Belfast-based, disabled-led arts charity, the University of Atypical, to experiment post-Brexit and Covid in developing links and collaborations outside the confines of our own region.  

Don’t forget the Belfast Photo Festival continues and Docs Ireland starts on June 29. A wee word to the festival team: Not everyone I spoke to realised it was happening in Belfast because its branding does not say Belfast anywhere on the cover large enough for people to see.

We are also getting ready for the Ulster Museum to be open every day – as happens every year in the summer when schools are off.

I took a walk around Botanic Gardens and the Tropical Ravine late last week to see the photo festival installations. It's lovely to experience Botanic in a summer haze with a tropical feeling in the ravine, maybe it’s the only holiday we all need?