Belfast Art – Almost 40 Pictures

Crikey. Here’s the 170th post (out of 185 maybe-score)

01 Gift

This is from the Arts and Disability Forum on Royal Avenue, because beginning the late night art trail at 3pm means I can check into galleries like this that shut early.

02 Gift

Splodged together slacker two-shots of candles, jewelery, chocolate; the members show ‘Gift’, with items priced between £3 and £300.

03 Gift

Lucid, spooky and in flow pencil line pieces, with YOMmiest chocolate underneath.

04 Gift

If I’m not mistaken Leo Devlin arranged the show (he does most of the gallery arrangements I think), has done well.

05 Gift

Gallery opp. Central Library opens Tuesday to Friday from 10-4pm, and there’s a seasonal celebration on Thursday 19 December from 5-7pm.

06 Gift

I hear you can buy these cards from (UK) or (US)

 07 Gift

Amazing. Next, off Royal Avenue by Ann Summers, The Red Barn Photographic Gallery.

 08 Before our time

The Red Barn is clinging by finger-tips financially these few months, it will need a bolster to stay open.

09 Before our time

These photos were taken by an unknown photographer between 1870-1920 and only recently time and technology are compatible to access them like this.


There’s a frank honesty to them which made this one of my galleries of the night.

11 Before our time

But then: Space Craft, and those snowflakes made from wooden intersections are awesome.


13 A Christm… Trilogy

Zoom in. Jenna Magennis’s baubles are filled full of Kandorian (miniature bottle resident) delights.


DUCKS, ducks, Quack Quack, Quack Wuack!

15 A Christm… Trilogy

SpaceCraft: it’s the one up that escalator!

16 Catalyst

Catalyst Arts now and Fiona Larkin’s Backstory featuring collaborations from seven other writers and artists and a Ruckenfigur – this seen-from-the-back scarved woman.


We’re invited to read into this: to create stories of hypernarrative upon our interaction, “the observer to become active collaborators who construct new meaning”.
Sorry Lass, I thought it was shit, atypical of privelege. You want collab-story, there’s a few writer’s groups around the city. Get details. Future nourishment, loftier plateaus smile.

Moving onto :


19 Boycottin…ke Bombs

‘Boycotting Cake Bombs’, concrete, string, wire, Barry Mulholland.

20 Barry Mulholland

Photographed from different angles.

 21 Barry Mulholland

A greatest show all round actually.


And that IS over seven foot high. “Reject Indecision Construct your Own Good Fortune”, double wall corrugated cardboard by Rachael Campbell-Palmer.

 23 Caravan

Teensy wood Birdhouse Caravan by Catherine Roberts, and there’s something about the colours of this that moved into my head like rejoining something there long ago.

24 Surrealism at Platform 13

More psychonaut colours. A very high standard all round.

 24a With David Mahons Electric Organ

David Mahon’s Electric Organ piece was looking a bit lifeless so I got inside it.

Upstairs in Belfast Belfast Exposed I bumped into a few friends for ‘Aftermath’, Laurence McKeown and Anthony Haughey’s photographs of Northern Irish residents who fled for the border upon the outbreak of the Troubles and their own stories. The opening was a bit too crammed to get an assessment of the work but there was a beautiful speech by the outgoing gallery director about the lost mindset of our politicians and the job upon artists to educate them.

Downstairs, the continuing exhibition focussing on the lost Yugoslavia.

24c Belfast Exposed

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is the name of a travelogue written pre-WW2 and followed by the photographer just before immense changes re-wrote the landscape.

 25 Yu The Lost Country

The exhibition is called ‘The Lost Country’ and I’ve not described it justly here. It’s eminently worth seeing.


Christ, here comes Winter Christmas Andy.


Re-cast him as that goggle eyed organ player from earlier and look at the warm rug and trails of fairy lights, ribboned gifts, snow grounded and hanging and candy canes.

28 Christmas PS2

Christmas grows through the walls as kodaks at PS2.


One of my favourite themes of late, re-booting Christmas – make it more palatable, relevant and meaningful.

 30 Book Tree

PS2 have that atmosphere in a bottle with animations and decorations in motion, Christmas as creativity.

And a book tree. Feck. Yeah.

31 Graffiti

Graffiti in Joy’s Entry.


An absurdist game of chess at The Black Box, I’m there for Real Sketchys.

Cold, I draw this instead, inspired by a Lee Kennedy, Terry Wiley conversation last week.

PJ Holden and Aimee Downey at the final formal Belfast Comics Pub Meet, for the time being.

36 lazer lizard

Someone mentions lizards briefly: it’s enough to set me off.

And there it is. Happy birthday me.

39 Happy 40

A 1986 FA Magazine (with some great commentary), BlexBolex’s graphic novella Abecederia and a big X card from John Robbins.

40 Robbins Big X

Blogging new art daily has been great for my creative muscle. I’m keen to keep going! I’ve learned a lot about other people coming to this point and my expectations of the world around me. Life is falling short, so aiming high I’m always going to do better than not aiming.

I probably deserve a gallery showing after all this. Catalyst, are you paying attention?

23 Things About Running Comics Arts Collectives in Public Galleries

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for, during a very exciting time in the UK comix scene..

My columns are concerned with four aspects surrounding comics – social community, economic factors, festival and exhibition coverage and modes of distribution.


Running through August I oversaw an exhibition of the works of ten cartoonists at The Oxford Jam Factory Gallery Bar and Restaurant. With little experience in arts management and administration, I just dived in there and had a go. And it worked, and it failed, and we set examples and there are lessons to be learnt.

Friendships and professionalism are ill-suited for me to expound on the lessons I’m going to impart with examples. Particularly as the experience left me with almost as much bitterness as pride and warm glow. So treat this as a checklist, and adjust in tone relating to the number of exhibitors.


1. You should probably visit the venue a handful of times as a punter.

2. Talk to other exhibiting artists about how the gallery has treated them. Has the show been properly publicised with artists requirements met ?

3. Find out all you can about the gallery. Footfall, clientele, cost of exhibiting and how to apply. Arrange a proper professional business appointment with the gallery owner to do this, and take notes. Take lots of notes. In shorthand. Work those scribbles speeding. Keenest ear, write it all. Bring a colleague so the question-answer-dictation flow can be kept strong. How much does the venue cost and when is the money due? How much commission is to be paid per sale? When are applications due by, and what are the criteria? How tailored would the gallery be to sell mini-comics as well as originals and prints ? Do they have a web sale operation that you could tap into ? Can a full breakdown of items sold be provided so that artists individual accounting can be sorted after the group and gallery’s immmediate business has concluded ? Will the venue be used for anything else which might interfere with the space of certain artworks?

4. When you’re at the stage were it looks like a viable project, insist or demand on full documentation – a written agreement from the gallery about their responsibilites, and any compensation if they fail to deliver on their claims. Also, and this is more important, a written contract, one which details all of the fees and charges the gallery and sales there will impose upon you/your group. In addition to rent space, the big nasty VAT. My recent experiences incurred a hidden 17.5% VAT charge on sales. No laughing matter when placed atop venue space and a 30% commission. Do not rely on a gentleman’s agreement, get it in writing in advance. Also, what will the gallery impose on your selling ?

Enlisting Artists for a Group Show

With smaller venues and long-running shows its important to take into account these pointers,

5. Planning locally ? Think locally.
Local artists should always be given priority. Theyre more inclined to be able to plug in to supporting the facility’s offerings, such as on-site workshops, and ensuring the smooth running of what should never be a one-person operation (not voluntary at least) If the group is spread over areas, regionally clustered sub-groups need and should co-operate and look after one another.

6. The old adage of ‘its who you know’ comes into its fore here. Enlist your friends and those you see regularly. Go with people you can trust.

7. Inform your selection from the outset about the full details of the information you’ve gathered and what their responsibilities will be. Sharing details such as space allocated, advance planning and notification will allow the eventually assembled group plenty of parameters of movement. Construct an electronic information pack and make sure everyone understands the basic requirements of coming on board before the matter is settled.

8. Gather secondary information from your artists. Will they be available at the venue on the opening and closing days to fulfill their obligations ? Are there any holidays planned ? Other residencies or festivals or exams or work obligations theyre pinned to ? This is very important. Use your own judgement of course, but be prepared to be quite ruthless. Any problems must be dealt with as early as possible so that contigencies can be formulated. Collect phone numbers and preferred email addresses.

8andAhalf. Because I’ll be buggered if I bothered re-numbering, though this is IMportant. Again, it concerns the poobah VAT charge potential. If you have a VAT registered artist in the group, approach them about the possibility of putting the collective under their name. If they are willing to do this, they’ll be eligible for claiming all that back afterwards.


9. Even if the event is intended as a group endeavour, were weak spots appear, it assumes the form of a heirarchy. Certain individuals may be susceptible to ‘carrying the bag’ more than others. Don’t stand for it, put the foot down if needs be, and don’t stand for it.

10. Ensure that gallery fees are paid in advance, preferrably on the day of opening. Some galleries are fine being paid 14 days after the shows close. However with a group of individuals each paying a small amount, but one total bill to be met theres little room for hold ups. Its worth contacting the gallery for a bank account name, sort code and account number. In this way non-local artists can at least meet their financial obligations without having to be in the vicinity. Remember though to ensure artists confirm to you that they have made a transaction this way.

11. On workshops, tutorials, artists-in-residence. Talk to the group about these and get confirmations. Getting this set-up early will allow it to be factored into any pre-publicity and opening night announcements.


12. One or two of the artists in the group may be called upon to create a publicity image.This should be decided upon by the group as early as possible. The finalised image should be ready to be sent to the gallery two and a half to three months in advance to allow for changes.

13. It may not be necessarry to inform the public too far in advance of the exhibit. However a week before, flyers should have been well printed and posters should be in sandwich bars. If a gallery includes promotion as part of the deal, do make sure to supplement their efforts using local blogs and events listings, as well as talking to local press contacts. In our work in this area as well as the usual comics resource sites (Bugpowder, Forbidden Planet, Downthetubes and Paul Gravett’s Events Listing), I announced it on my own blog, and on Oxford’s dreamingspires community) Deirdre Ruane prepared an official press release with contact details for community arts contacts and Oxford’s DailyInfo sites. I’d also made a listing on, which has an option to put it around five other events sites.

Opening Day

14. By now frames should have been acquired very cheaply at charity shops or Wilkinsons. Hold onto the little corner edges. They can be mounted onto the wall and used to hold MOO cards or other small contact cards in. Begin your art selection process well in advance, and do not, do not leave the framing until the night before. There are revisions.

15. Make sure all artists are aware of their obligations on the opening day and that all tools required (hammers, nails, spirit levels, frames) are in the vicinity.

16. Any artwork posted in should be done so with the address double-checked, sent recorded delivery. However this detached approach is not recommended as it disengages from group participation and is an unequal distribution of labour.

17. All artists should arrive on time, not two or four hours late. However if they fail to meet schedule, don’t panic! If theres a floor plan, stick with it. If not, adopt a mercenary first come, first served get on with the job mentality. Another upside of having stragglers is that not everyone is clamouring for a small supply of tools at once,

18. Ensure that all artwork is properly labelled, with pre-prepared accompanying price label to a list for its immediacy. The gallery may provide stickers, but as with publicity, don’t wait about, and take the initiative. Make sure pricing instructions are clear. If a piece is not for sale as hung, mark as such. If prints are available, likewise. Make it clear to the gallery as to whether a sold item can be picked up immediately or should be left until the end of the exhibition. Punters should be aware of this also, tell. How much are you pricing your work at? I’d suggest enough that in total it’ll cover your costs four or five times over. Jeremy Dennis suggests, “Price it as much as you’re prepared to let it go for”.

19. Get very very drunk and or enjoying yourself on opening night. Although theres correlations between violence and exuberance you may have worked hard, done a difficult job and you should treat yourself to leaving the stress in history. Besides its much more fun than masturbation and better to talk about. We also had a visitors book and a few cheapo sketch blocks for both artists and visitors to play on.

Sometime after the Morning After The Morning After

19. Workshops, tutorials and artist-in-residence sessions are great for keeping the event live. They can act as an adoptable alternative to opening night, and help to grow the contacts made then. In terms of public awareness, it helps to ensure marker points, rather than just being ‘an exhibition thats running’. Something is happening, and happenings shouldnt run out of sight. Give some serious thought to what you are doing as an artist and utilise the venue to tie into this. A work-in-progress, for example, might be drawn on site, with pages from the booklet exhibited while you go along.

20. Continue to plan in advance. Don’t let a lack of response from one or two folk fuck up everyone else’s plans of having a good time. Jettison dependency on stragglers and move forward with whatever you can.

Closing Day

21. As with before artists should be available for takedown procedure. Its unfair to ask too much of the work to be carried by a minority. Best to find out what this entails. Does spaces were arts once hung have to be pollyfilled and painted over ?  Who provides the materials and brushes?

22. Theres a likelihood that the gallery may not be able to provide a full accounting until the day after closedown. Expect this as a plausible delay in payment. Matters between gallery and exhibitors shoulld not remain unsettled longer than 14 days.

23. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given in creating comics, the only thing you need- “Just Do It!”. Here I’d suggest ‘Just do it. Do it very carefully, professionally and in advance. Don’t do more than you need to. Comics are never a one-man show.

– Andrew Luke