As part of its 2021 economic recovery plan, the Irish Government is bringing forward a pilot of a basic income for the arts sector which "recognises the necessity to remove the precarity from the lives of artist and art workers of all disciplines, so that they might develop, create and present their best work for the benefit of all society".

This decision follows five years of research, engagement, consultation and lobbying by the National Campaign for the Arts. As anyone in the arts will tell you the desire to create is stronger than the desire for people to support the creativity.

There is a lot of support for arts administration but less for artists. When I graduated from art college I went to London armed with a list of people to contact about some freelance work. Luckily, although the list was short, I received enough interest to work with some textile studios on a freelance basis.

The work was highly creative but erratic; it was only with the help of the enterprise allowance scheme which gave you £10 more a week than the dole for a year that I could live in the city. It gave me time to build up a collection and contacts which catapulted me into a Fulbright scholarship and art college in New York.

That initial support was crucial, the thought of a basic income for arts workers truly  revolutionary. It’s a great pity that the pilot has not crept North we will all be waiting for the results with eagle eyes.


As more galleries reopen this week, I am struck by the visceral joy of being alone in a gallery with art you have never seen before; the gap between what you think the exhibition might be about to what you experience first hand.  

‘I Want to believe’ by David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher at The University of Atypical is part of the Belfast Photo Festival.  The exhibition shows photos of people working in the area of transhumanism. Neil Harbisson is a cyborg artist and identifies as a cyborg and a transpecies he no longer feels 100 per cent human.

According to the Festival programme: “In 2010 he co-founded the Cyborg foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborg art. They believe that we no longer need to wait for human evolution; we can decide what senses and body parts to have based on how we wish to experience the world”  

He had an antenna implanted into his skull allowing him to perceive visible and invisible colours as audible vibrations including infrareds and ultra violets.

He uses an internet connection in his head to connect to NASA’s international space station experiencing the vast colour spectrum of space via a live stream. One part of me things how cool and the other have we all seen Robocop? Do we know where this might be going? When people are describing zoom fatigue, how would you process a live stream from space, what for instance is it doing to your consciousness?

What about a RFID chip implanted in your body? It can replace keys, passwords or perhaps bitcoin addresses, for those of us that have password problems it might be a solution, but how exactly would you upgrade?

Or what about being a brain hacker?

I like new technology; I’m interested in the flows and shifts of gadgets. Delving into this world of robotics, human enhancement and transhumanism I cannot help but wonder where do the participants in the exhibition believe that the life of the spirit dwells?

Are we destined to not only become more distracted as a humanity with our mobile phones and technology twitches but become the actual machines themselves? For those locally who do not believe in evolution what would they make of this ‘brave new world’.

Exhibition continues until 8 July University of ATypical, 109-113 Royal Ave. There is also a talk on 22 June 6pm via Zoom on Transhumanism and the future of humanity


For those of us with our feet firmly on the ground, there is a delightful squeal at the thought of Belfast having an outdoor potters' market. Ceramics is an art form that has many producers locally and on 7 and 8 August Writers' Square will be transformed into a market showing 20 different potters each day. All hail to Mud Ireland who have developed the concept and got all the permissions.


Meanwhile I feel for the new graduates of the art college. The animation graduates have a show real online for one week only.

LOCKDOWN ART: Susan Hughes work in the Arts for All exhibition.

LOCKDOWN ART: Susan Hughes work in the Arts for All exhibition.

The Masters of Fine Art are installing in Arts for All in Yorkgate and their exhibition is viewable by email appointment. Artists include Oonagh Mcateer and Susan Hughes.  The Mac is opened and while I’ve not managed to see the Willie Doherty exhibition yet as the museum is booked out most weekends, there is plenty of availably during the week.