Has Belfast Photo Festival taken over Botanic gardens? The festival has had a presence within the gardens for a few years now and while this is certainly the most images I have ever seen around one of Belfast’s green lungs, we have to consider that this was being planned without knowing whether galleries would be open to the public by now.

If you take some time to stroll in the fresh air there is much to contemplate, from photos of the cult around the Polish army, states of control, Indian culture, the atomic bomb as the ultimate photographer's flash and the loss of a mother's identity looking after small children, to name a few.

With the gardens coming up to a mid-summer flourish, it’s a pleasant way to pass some time.  Walking over to the quad inside Queens University images of Somnyama Ngonyama by Zanele Mucholi are a glorious homage to South African culture — also part of Belfast Photo Festival. 

There has been much debate and research on how to fill the gap felt by many in the Black community — in particular of feeling their presence within the gallery setting. The Golden Thread Gallery has a paid Internship role for an individual who identifies as a member of the Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic communities.

RIDING HIGH: Benji Reid in Naughton Gallery

RIDING HIGH: Benji Reid in Naughton Gallery

The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s current contribution is the  the exhibition ‘Sorry, Neither’ named after Star Trek’s Lieutenant Nyota Uhura’s response after she was referred to as a "Fair maiden". The exhibition is an exploration of Afrofuturism as "a cultural movement where we are asked to consider how blackness might exist without the burden of racism, oppression and stereotypes ever-present in Western culture". 

The exhibition is thought-provoking and keeps in the house style of animation, illustration and photographic images with lots to prompt contemplation and discussion. The Naughton Gallery is in the Lanyon Building at Queens open Tuesday- Sunday 11-4pm and the Exhibition runs until 11 July. 

One subject of artistic contemplation is just how long can an artist be considered to be emerging? The exhibition Emergence 1V at QSS artist studios has been postponed three times. 17 artists were chosen from last year’s graduates at Belfast School of Art at this transitional stage of their careers. The selected works include print, sculpture, painting and drawing. Kwok L Tsui’s paintings in particular stood out for me.

The exhibition runs until 1 July, open times Tuesday-Thursday 10.30-5pm.

While at the gallery, I bumped into Joy Gerrard who recently had a number of pieces purchased by the UK Government art collection. Joy specialises in large, black and white paintings of protest in urban space — something worthy of contemplation for any government official. They did not however purchase the ones about Brexit!

I thought the Grand Opera House trustees were physic when they had a planned closure for renovations last year. Just think of all those tickets they would not have to refund as they had planned to be closed anyway. Renovations are now complete and they are offering tours around the new and improved theatre spaces.

The Royal Ulster Academy have a call out for their annual selected exhibition. It has recently moved to  Rosemary Street with space to show its collection on the ground floor  “It is currently the largest and longest-established body of practicing visual artists in Northern Ireland," says the RUA. The deadline for submissions is 4pm on Friday 30 July. Submissions are welcomed from artists working in paint, drawing, print, sculpture, photography, digital, glass and ceramics. Artists over 18 are invited to apply for what is usually the most visited exhibition of the year in the Ulster Museum.