posted on September 18th, 2020

Art galleries safely reopen


Stuck for something to do this weekend?  Why not go along to your local public art gallery and enjoy some great art!

A number of the region’s public art galleries have begun to reopen following a significant period of closure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  From R-Space in Lisburn, Millennium Court in Portadown to VOID in Derry-Londonderry and Belfast Exposed, Craft NI, The MAC, Golden Thread Gallery and University of Atypical, all in Belfast, there is a wealth of visual art on display to get out and enjoy safely this autumn!

Whilst we all need to remain vigilant with regard to health and safety during this pandemic, the public can take confidence that every safety measure is in place within those galleries that are open.  All galleries are running a booking system, available on their websites, to ensure that the number of people in the gallery at any one time is fully controlled.  Mask wearing is essential and there are a number of sanitizing stations throughout the spaces.

Dr Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “Whilst we await a date for the reopening of performance venues and theatres, it’s heartening to see parts of our arts sector reopen and welcome people back.  Our galleries have been working very hard to put in place all the health and safety measures required to open their doors safely to the public.  Indeed, the very nature of public art galleries allows for vital social distancing during these challenging times.  I would encourage everyone to go along and support your local gallery this autumn and enjoy great art!

Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive, Belfast Exposed, added, “Belfast Exposed is delighted to be open and welcoming people back to enjoy our photography exhibitions.  We went through a number of processes to make sure the building was safe to open to the public.  We have sanitizers around the building, we have masks available for people and gloves for anyone wanting to browse through the book shelves.  We currently have an MFA graduate exhibition called Anthology and it really is a reflection of people and places in everyday life with themes similar to what we’re all going through right now – it really is a fantastic exhibition.”

Public art galleries currently showing exhibitions include:

The MAC: Ulster University BA and MFA Fine Art Graduate Show

From now until 11th October, The MAC presents the popular, Ulster University BA and MFA Fine Art Graduate Show, across all three MAC galleries.  The MAC is open from 10am-4pm Wed-Sun and you must book to attend the exhibition at

Golden Thread Gallery:  More Bad News and Dissolving Histories Exhibitions

More Bad News – showing now until 19th September
A solo exhibition by Dougal McKenzie.  To book visit:

Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence – showing until 30th September

Co-curated by Mary Cremin and Peter Richards, featuring artists: Bassam Al Sabah; Liliane Puthod; Michael Hanna; and Stuart Calvin.  To book visit:

University of Atypical: Brian Kielt Exhibition

University of Atypical is showing Brian Kielt’s exhibition, Confessionals.  Brian Kielt is a painter based in Mid-Ulster who makes work about memory, trauma and anxiety. In 2012 Kielt co-founded the LOFT collective and continues to collaborate with members on numerous projects. This is Kielt’s fifth solo exhibition and his work has featured in several group shows and has work in private collections in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and the USA.  Conscious that many people may continue to shield, they have also organised an online event for those who can’t make it to see the exhibition. A Studio Visit with Brian Kielt will take place on Saturday 3rd of October 2020 from 2pm to 3pm.  Register your interest and receive the Zoom link at

VOID: echoes are always more muted

VOID in Derry-Londonderry is showing an exhibition by artist, Alan Phelan, echoes are always more muted, from 5th September until 31st October.  To book

R-Space: Re: New Wallace #3 and MMM#8 – Obvious

R-Space in Lisburn present two exhibitions including:

Re: New Wallace #3, Robert Peters, 12 September – 16 October 2020 11am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.  Augmented reality and mixed media by Robert Peters casting an eye on the fraught relationship between Britain and Ireland in the 19th century; absentee landlords, rent strikes, decadent aristocrats, the Famine and Home Rule.  Re: New Wallace #3 is the much anticipated third in their series of Re:New Wallace Collection exhibitions, in collaboration with The Wallace Collection, London.  To book visit:

MMM#8 – Obvious, Aimée Nelson, Aoife O’Connor, Gary Shaw, Jill Phillips, Mr. Papers, Pauline Clancy, 7 November – 11 December 2020  11am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday.  Six artists based in Northern Ireland have been selected from an open call as part of our Materials, Messages and Meaning series. Now in its eighth year, these exhibitions explore artists’ different approaches to materials, methods of production and messages within their work.  The works include interactive screenprinting, mixed media installations, digital imaging, and folk art.

To book visit:

Craft NI: presents regular exhibitions of the work of craft makers from around Northern Ireland and also a gallery retail space where you can buy from local craft makers.  Visit

Millennium Court Arts Centre: No Time

Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown, is showing their current exhibition, NO TIME, by Martin Boyle.  To book visit

Belfast Exposed: present two exhibitions highlighting the work of a selection of recent graduates from the MFA Photography and BA in Photography and Video at Ulster University.  The exhibitions are:

Anthropology (MFA Exhibition) – 3rd September – 24th October

The works presented are universally human and deeply personal navigations of current climates and a response to exactly this moment in time. The exhibition sits with the process of grief and walks along the borders of small towns and fallen cities. Artists reckon with the aftermath of abuse and make sense of fluctuating architecture and the human effort to heal our natural environment. Perception is questioned and subverted to understand home, gender, and community. Exhibition link:

Human Condition (BA Exhibition) – 3rd September – 24th October

The works presented are a broad exploration of human existence plunging into topics from water quality to fluid gender expression and roles. Further observations on mental health spanning youth to retirement, isolation, healing, and recreational space.  Exhibition link:

To support organisations to safely prepare to reopen the Arts Council recently announced the Health & Safety Capital Programme which is now open for online applications and will close at October 1st 2020. To be eligible, organisations must demonstrate the purpose of the requested equipment or minor works to be clearly focused on the arts.  For further information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply, please visit


Patricia Lavery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland with Deirdre McKenna and Damien Coyle from the University of Atypical.