Sometimes the fact that I live in a parallel universe becomes really highlighted, like this Sunday with Churches open I’m back on my odyssey of visiting every church in Belfast for a service.

There are some amazing churches on the Shankill Road and as there has been a lot of focus on the area over the past week, naturally it called me back.

Approaching the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, I was convinced it would be a small congregation, only to find that with Covid regulations meaning spaced-out seating, it was filled to capacity fifteen minutes after I arrived. I was treated with great generosity and given a warm Shankill welcome. 

There was little mention of the recent rioting. The focus was on following a path towards God. The people were obviously delighted to be back in their Church again to experience inter-generational worship.  There was much joking about trying to sing a hymn from your sofa while watching online services.

It reminded me of an input I did this week to a course at the School of Art Institute Chicago. It was clear that our news had travelled. Violence immediately gets reported, yet good old-fashioned, mundane, daily or weekly communal good rarely gets whizzed around local and global headlines. 

When galleries reopen I wonder if we will all start to expect paintings to have automatic soundscapes, activated perhaps by sensors that automatically trigger speakers to blast us into a new visual experiences?

Although Emma Beakley states in her exhibition ‘Submerged in Echoes’ at An Chultúrlann that that there is no one reading of her works, the video piece of her exhibition by Will McConnell nudges us greatly towards seascapes and subterranean worlds.

The experience of learning Irish, Emma states, has affected her profoundly. The Irish words for ambitious, polite and troubled permeate the video of her exhibition which further pushes the viewer to a contemplative state.

Three quarters through the video my mind was firmly in North Coast caves and moonlit nights.  However, as any artist who has spent hours watching oil paints and turps rolling into one another knows, with abstract works the interpretation lies with the viewer.

Emma’s exhibition has been postponed for over a year but there is great wisdom in ‘just getting it out there’ as culture stops for no one. 


With so many festivals going online, we know that when hugs become legal and gatherings of over ten humans are allowed, we will all appreciate simple pleasures more. But in the meantime what about connecting to a menopause festival?  Forced online by current regulations it’s an eclectic mix of poetry, art, health, music, cabaret and conversation.

Their hashtags is #FlushFest2021 and the fun starts at the end of April.


The Royal Academy in London has a young artists' summer show which is free to enter and now open for submission age group is 5-19. It will be judged by artists and art professionals and if selected the  work will be displayed online and in the Academy.


The Duncairn have taken their skills to South Armagh along with Oriel Events have been capturing some of the local talent and recording and broadcasting on YouTube. The Ring of Gullion sessions all come from Bluebell glamping site. It is a great idea and I hope the team enjoyed the fresh air and country views.

As a closet camper myself, I loved the views of the surrounding area. 

You can buy a copy of Belfast City of Light by Bronagh Lawson, an account of her visit to hundred of church services across Belfast, online