posted on January 17th, 2017
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Carrie Neely- Arts Diary October 2016

David Hockney at The MAC

I grew up with a much loved, signed David Hockney in the Neely household and have always had a soft spot for his work, so I was very excited to hear about his exhibition in Belfast.

More than 200 people packed into Belfast’s leading arts venue, the MAC, for the highly-anticipated unveiling of this new exhibition by the iconic artist. The exhibition, which opened on August 19 and runs until mid-October, is the first significant presentation of Hockney’s work in Ireland and the excitement among art lovers at the launch was palpable.

Representatives from local government, including the Lord Mayor, Alderman Brian Kingston and Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell, mingled with invited guests from the worlds of business, culture and the arts at the event, which was addressed by Lady Dufferin, a personal friend of the artist.

Marking his 80th year, the exhibition entitled David Hockney: I draw, I do, focused on the artist’s early work including the famous ‘Paper Pool’ series, alongside work from the current decade, all of which celebrates Hockney’s interest in drawing. Hockney is a painter, printmaker, photographer and designer and much like Andy Warhol at the MAC in 2013, this collection marks another first for Belfast.  The MAC presents this Hockney exhibition in advance of the many celebrations that will happen next year.

19th August-16th October

Culture Night Launch

Art is at the heart of Culture Night, which is undoubtedly the best annual night out in Belfast for bringing people together and sharing the city centre. The roads are closed to traffic and over 100 bars, theatres, galleries and local business are filled with a riot of colour, sound, art, music, drama and circus acts. As Culture Night Programme Manager Adam Turkington says: ‘It never rains on Culture Night!”

At the Culture Night launch we were given a small glimpse of what lies ahead…pantomime horse racing, a street tea party, clowns playing brass and belly dancing to name a few. Lots of colourful characters sat on a long table in amongst sponsors, artists, press and culture night organisers, where we were served soup and bread from The Dark Horse in Culture Night mugs (which we were allowed to take home!), washed down with Club Orange.

This year food plays a massive part with a free feast on ’The Big Table’ for 5000 people in Donegall Street, supplied by supermarket surplus and sponsored by Belfast Harbour.

Last year Culture Night brought over 65,000 visitors, and an estimated 2.5 Million spend into local economy, and 2016 will smash these numbers. If you haven’t been yet…I urge you…GO GO GO!!!

16 September 2016 #CNB16 

Belfast Mela

A capacity crowd packed Belfast’s Botanic Gardens to celebrate the tenth Belfast Mela in truly global style. I brought the whole family down to enjoy the eclectic global village showcasing arts, culture and cuisine drawn from a wealth of nations, creating Northern Ireland’s largest ever celebration of diversity.

As always, the city took its magnificent Mela to its heart and good-humoured, multi-generational audiences danced, sang, shopped and ate their way around the world in one great global afternoon. Reflecting the resounding success of the most ambitious Mela Festival ever, Nisha Tandon, founder and Executive Director of award-winning ethnic arts organisation, ArtsEkta, said, “Ten years ago ArtsEkta’s founding members had a vision of an exciting inclusive festival which would bring the world to Belfast and highlight our emerging diversity.  What we could never have foreseen, as we took those early tentative steps, was just how much Mela would grow and develop.  Over our ten year history around a quarter of a million people have now enjoyed the unique Belfast Mela experience.”

The word ‘Mela’ is actually derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘meet’, which is highly appropriate as I could not turn a corner without bumping into someone I knew! Belfast Mela is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all social and ethnic backgrounds and has such an eclectic mix of entertainment…where else can you watch your kids dance to the Dohl drums, Aggro Jazz, Balkan Folk and Zulu Afro-gospel and then go and chase Chinese dragons? Brilliant day out!