There was a time when anyone interested in design locally had to wait for the public sector to make their annual box-tick events on the subject area to get their design fix.  

Then came along social media and organisations like Blick Studios, who simply took matters into their own hands and started the Belfast Design Festival; eventually sponsors caught up.

This week is Belfast Design week and the theme is environment. Many of the events have gone online. However, in a nice touch, considering how tough business is for coffee shops, they have moved their pop-up design museum into the windows of cafés so you can take your constitutional and enjoy an outdoor gallery view.

If you have been following the future of Sailortown, there is also information about this week's online Symposium on 6 November on their website. 

An interesting video available during the festival online is Unapproved Routes by architect Aisling Rusk and historian and author Peter Leary. They discuss their research on borders, their transgressions through spatial practice and illicit activities.


Duncairn Arts has published it’s latest Take 2 magazine programme and in particular I appreciated the section on Otto Stoneman a visual artist who also works for Loveworks the bread making and bicycle repair cooperative.

Who knew the man who has a talent for overnight bread-making sees working in his sketchbooks as a spiritual act and key to his mental health. Spoken like a true artist. 

While on the subject of mental health, the crew at Northern Ireland Mental Health Festival have been publishing videos every Wednesday.

A video on Er Bekk shows how to find and make pigment for watercolour and encourages us all to go out for a walk and look for pigment. But whether it’s upcycling or the mental health benefits of making something with fabric, Lucinda Graham’s has lots of hints and tips.

Outburst Queer Arts Festival has launched its programme  for 2020 and bursts with events and activities such as ‘artist at your residence’, with Rosa Tralee who will come to your door with her new book and read a 15 minute extract.

The future is a drag, via Zoom, is Gemma Hutton’s developed play I/Mother.

Disabilities and queerness meet in ‘Special School’, a year-long programme for artists and general audience looking at ability, accessibility and non-normative bodies.  What Al- Nadeem Knew is an interesting multi-media storytelling installation available by appointment in the Golden Thread Gallery (Covid restrictions permitting). Outburst Festival runs from 13- 21 November 

Now to exhibitions you can view in person: The Association for Contemporary Jewellers and Silversmiths NI (ACJNI) have selected 23 local jewellers for their Pinned’ exhibition now open at 115-119 Royal Avenue.

As the space qualifies as retail, with its stocks of local craft producers you can wander in and get your art-viewing fix with all the necessary precautions.

The exhibition shows jewellers' pins inspired by a piece of clothing in materials not usually used by jewellers. The result includes a selection of an orange jumpsuit, a midnight blue Donegal tweed knitted wool cape among other garnets with very fine art leaning jewellery. Bottle tops, ceramics, wood as well as precious metals are some of the materials chosen.

While in Royal Avenue put your head in the door of the University of Atypical gallery  at the ground floor, Cathedral quarter work spaces,  109-113 Royal Avenue where (from 5 November) NIki Collier's first solo exhibition Viruses will be available to view.

VIRUSES: Niki Collier has been focusing her art on viruses long before they became the topic of every conversation

VIRUSES: Niki Collier has been focusing her art on viruses long before they became the topic of every conversation

Interestingly NIki has been working on her practice which she describes as  "a conversation between empathy and resilience" making micro-organisms and viruses, germs and reproductive cells such as the common cold, Aids and Norovirus for a number of years.

Now it resonates with a different echo. If you can’t get there in person a live stream on Facebook will be held on opening night at 5pm. 

Belfast Exposed has installed a screen in its window so exhibitions can still be viewed from outside on Donegall Street. Belfast Photo Festival  starts on 4 November if you are into virtual worlds, the Captured Conference might be for you. It's a global interactive online and offline conference starting 6 November and running weekly to  26 November which hopefully means the offline part of the conference will still be possible at the Strand Cinema subject to Covid restrictions changing. 

BIG PICTURE: Belfast Photo Festival

BIG PICTURE: Belfast Photo Festival

As I was looking last week at a new art piece I bumped into (ok, not really bumped into pre-Covid style, it was more of a "oh there is someone waving at me but I do not know who it is with their face mask on" style. The person in question  always reads what I’m doing and thinks its admirable that I’m still doing it, considering what else is going on in the city.

I told her its important at all times to know that humanity is drawn towards creativity and innovation and massive change is possible during a time of disruption.

Indeed, looking at the creativity on offer this week alone brings me hope.

Speaking of which  Bright Umbrella has made a circuit maker lockdown festival which runs until 26 November it asks, "is your fringe getting in your eyes?"

Get the beers in (or make yourself a nice cup of tea), park the children and join the festivities. Now what a good idea.

Love and light, Bronagh.