Thursday, 26 June 2008


Ok it's not " free Belfast" as in free Nelson Mandela more "free Belfast" as in free tickets. Everywhere you look in the papers there is nothing but doom and gloom , credit crunch, credit crunch. If you read a paper everyday you would be convinced that it was the end of the world as we know it. Maybe it is but in the meantime why not get some free entertainment .

People say they don't have the money to go out but if you look around you will see lots to do for nothing.

So for a start , every Sunday from 29th June there are free street performances down at the Cotton Court building (opposite the Merchant) in the cathedral quarter the acts range from SCATE NAKED (Bristol) to Mark Segal (Switzerland)

If you go onto search for free tickets and you can register online for lots of free things from the BBC comedy to classical music.

18th July there is Opera in the Park beamed live from Covent garden to our own Botanic gardens. I would advice going early, around 5 to get a decent spot it tends to be busy which to begin with was surprising for a July date in Belfast. But we are starting to get used to it.

Next Thursday evening its first Thursday and again the Belfast galleries will be alive and open to 9 o'clock. Belfast Print workshops has a talk by an artist over from Los angles starting at 7. For details of other happenings on the night have a browse on

Tonight there is a exhibition opening at the Naughton gallery at Queens 7 o'clock with an artsist talk on saturday.

So there you go lots of look at for FREE so now there is no excuse to moan about everything is getting too expensive just get yourself organised and go and enjoy.

Peace by Piece

I've been at a conference this week in the waterfront where speakers both locally and internationally have been sharing experience on what women have been doing both during conflict, in transition and post conflict. It has been very interesting. Joanna Lumley was the opening speaker and she spoke very eloquently about doing work for Comic relief in Africa.

The one speaker who's words really stayed with me were that of a women from South Africa. She was talking about being in Sierra Leone reporting on what had happened there. Which honestly was horrific, she spoke of one women being forced to kill her baby them mash it up with a mortar and pistol so the rebels could have ground meat. See what I mean quite horrific. There were many more storied just as bad and it made me thing that although there have been many horrific thinks happening in Ireland during the troubles there is another level of horror out there that other countries have experienced.

One of the underlying things that the conference wanted to highlight was that there are many woman's organisations that over the last 25 years have kept the fabric of their localities together, offering training and opportunities to women that would not have moved forward with their lives using any of the statutory provision. Now in 2008 the powers that be are basically saying that there is no longer a need for such women's training. Every one should just go to the technical collages. Anyone who has worked in community education know that this is not the case and the women's sector is lobbying hard to get Del to understand. Meanwhile time is ticking on and organisations are running out of money and jobs are starting to get lost.

While its understandable that everything simple cannot be funded, there is a great wealth of knowledge out there that will be lost. Opportunities that will not happen if match funding is not found.


Thursday, 19 June 2008

Diversity Award from Business in the Community

It's always nice for someone to get a pat on the back and its come to my attention that one of the programmes I have been working on over the last couple of years has won the Diversity award from Business in the Community. Winning over such organisations as IKEA so its not bad. WINS was a project run in conjunction with Gems NI on behalf of Belfast City Council to encourage more women into jobs that had previously been seen as traditionally male.

I co-ordinated the training element of the programme and it was great to have so much success with it particularly when women moved into employment, very satisfying.

It all just chips away at a very big block, sometimes you wonder if the block is getting any smaller or not but every now and then you get a boost.

Many people do not realise that for years there have been lots of women's centers and organisations that have been giving opportunities to women in disadvantaged areas opportunities that they would not have had access to otherwise. Peace funds and funds from elsewhere have built up there organisations and developed innovative ways of helping people with their lives. Now that there is peace it is decided that many of these organisations are no longer needed, thanks very much but goodbye.

This is an awful shame as their have been many innovative projects happening and much of this knowledge will be lost. Many of the organisations have recieved offers of 65% funding over three years but with other way of recieving the further 35% so it's frustrating . In order to demonstrate against this there is a rally at Stormont on Monday 23 June at 11.30.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Why did Bush come to Belfast?

As we speak I can hear the siren from Stormont as Bush or some of his posse make their way through Belfast. It does make me wonder why he came . There was a small demonstration in Belfast City centre when I went in earlier on today with placards saying "troops out" just as I was thinking, well the troops are out of N.Ireland are they not? then I could read the small print saying "out of Iraq". MMMmmmmmmmmmmm.

It reminded me of when Clinton come over the time before last. There was a small group demonstrating about something that was happening in America . He said how he was pleased to see them, when asked why? he said it proved that people in N.I was starting to evolve and grow as they had time to demonstrate about something else other than Northern Ireland.

So I suppose that's progress. Time slips past no matter what you do. I noticed in the Wellington Park hotel they have lots of drawings of politicians by Raymond Piper he must have drawn them during the peace process and what struck me about the ones I could see from when I was sitting very few were still "players" Seamus Mallon is retired as is John Hume and Ian Paisley , David Ervine is dead Billy Hutchinson no longer a MLA it seemed quite positive that there was some sort of turnover of personalities. Clinton, Bertie Ahern and Blair also moved on . But what do we get in their place???? Well lets not go there it's a bit of wait and see.

Anyway still not sure what Bush is here apart for a photo opportunity. Just heard Gordon Brown on the radio as he came over to talk with Bush in Belfast but he was focusing on the price of oil. So we are yesterdays news. Thats good, is it not??

Monday, 9 June 2008

Now available in Portaferry

As of today I now have prints available in the Artz yard Portaferry . Zoe has been running the gallery for over a year now and has built up her artists and clients. She has a wide selection of art available some local some national and internatonal.

Shore road Portaferry etching

She is located at the top of the town in the brewery yard opposite the white horse bar so if your in the vacinity why not call in and have a look around. All of the print I left in there are of the Strangford lough area, as I find it so inspiring.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Something to mutter about.

I found something to mutter about today there is a new business in town called which is a pay as you go car club with a national network of low emission cars across the UK. They have a number of places in Belfast you can pick up the cars with a swipe card and pay by hour , day or weekend it's cheaper than a taxi and they say it stops the hassle and expense of owning a car.

It will be interesting to see how many people might take it up. It recons that each whizz go car can take 20 cars off the road ( not by bumping into them ). Maybe this is a sign of the future or maybe it's too early to catch on. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Artistic life of Belfast

I suppose many of you might say what artistic life?? but I can vouch that there is a vibrant artistic community struggling on in Belfast there are a number of interesting exhibitions and opening coming up this week first off. BELFAST PRINT WORKSHOPS has to get a mention with it opening in the cotton court in the cathedral quarter on Thursday 7pm. the exhibition is titled " other things we do" and will show art other than prints that workshop members make.

Secondly on the same night The Engine room Gallery 414 Newtownards road is showing Studio c
art from 6 local artists including Lisa Ballard of the Belfast Print Workshops. The opening is from 7pm - 9.30 pm.

If you want to follow the artistic theme the next night you could visit the Ormeau Baths Gallery
where international renowned artists Jake and Dinos Chapman: My Giant Colouring Book

& Sue Williams: Small Talk, High Heels 7pm – 9pm. The exhibition continues until 5th July and some say there will be quite a bit of controversy over the subject matter for the exhibition.

Belfast City council have started an initiative the first Thursday every month galleries will open have all the information.

So you see Belfast does have an artistic life, there are a few things hindering it at the moment one of them being that many of the studio spaces that people have had over the years are chucking out the artists as the property has become too valuable meaning that many artists do not have a place to work. Maybe with the property slump there seems to be at the moment in Belfast might give some of them some reprieve. Here hoping.

Last but not least there is an ulster festival of art and design based at the art collage on York Street not forgetting the actual degree shows themselves which open on June 9th. So you see there is lots of creativity going on in Belfast all it needs is for us all to support it. Hope to see you there.

Painting above Drumlins by Bronagh Lawson acrylic on canvas featured in "other things we do exhibition at BPW"