Some 40-plus years ago I had the privilege of meeting and befriending the performance artist Alistair McClennan.

Alistair was a regular visitor to the Lisburn Road flat of the famous artist Micky Donnelly (RIP).

It was at Mickey’s that our legendary punk new wave band The Lids practiced on a Saturday and sometimes into Sunday. The band at that time consisted of Mickey's brother Paddy Donnelly on bass, Paul Kelly on drums, Peter North (RIP) on lead guitar, Ambrose McCallion, lead singer, and myself on saxophone.

Back then the Lisburn Road was a bit of a ghost town come a certain hour, not the vibrant place of today.

A wee Taig like me was fresh meat to the wandering Tartan gangs. Mickey's apartment was a real hub for creativity and new ideas flowed like the wine that we necked as if there was no tomorrow. And back then in our nihilism, it looked that way at times.

Alistair was a character like no other who oozed presence with his bald head, white beard and black dress —  like some austere Zen father. I was right about the Zen as Alistair was then, and still is now, a deep Zen practitioner.

His art is performance art and that in itself is Zen practice.

Over the years Alistair's life and mine would cross here and there and we always held deep respect for each other — like true Zen Bruddhists. We updated each other on what was happening in the Zen scene and explored new ideas of how to transmit experiential learning that would be of benefit to folk and, if we were lucky, help them wake up to their precious lives.

Alistair himself is a highly recognised global artist and is forever on tour and, to his credit, has kept that austere look: black, bald, and bearded.

Recently I have has the good fortune to be contacted by a work colleague of Alistair, Cherie Driver, another prolific artist, lecturer and a voyager on the exploration of being and non-being. Both Alistair and Cherie are founder members of Bbeyond, an artist collective based here in Belfast.

Cherie invited me to participate in what is known as a Silent Lecture. The Silent Lecture is also part of a greater global group.

We will create a space in the Duncairn Arts Centre on October 1 to explore compassion in what could be described as laboratory conditions. I personally would describe it as the container and the contained. We will be advertising for participants across our beautiful city to join us in this exploration of compassion.

I don’t want to give away too much now but I can safely say that it will be an experience of a lifetime, so get yourself signed up asap.

Cherie and I will be co hosting the day and I wish to take this opportunity to thank all at Duncairn Arts for letting us avail of their unique space to host the Silent Lecture.