Carrie Neely- Arts Diary November 2016


What can I say about Culture Night? It has become one of the most legendary dates in the Belfast social calendar, not just for us creative types…artists, musicians, poets, circus performers, designers, writers, photographers, actors, street artists, pantomime horses etc (you get my drift), but for all the people from Northern Ireland and further afield to enjoy Belfast at its best.

The city was awash with colour and colourful characters lining the traffic free streets of the Cathedral Quarter, whilst music blared from every corner and entertainment was laid on for every creative taste. A huge dinner table was set along the length of Donegall Street in Belfast City Centre, as a giant vegetarian curry made from locally sourced surplus produce fed hungry revellers!

During Culture Night, I took part in a creative Q&A at Blick Studio’s, where myself and five lovely people from both the creative and business world, including the gorgeous Catherine McGuinness from Maven, were grilled about life, business and creativity and how to get that ‘balance’ (which does not seem to exist!).

I surprised myself by making some lovely mono prints at the Belfast Print Workshop with help from my lovely artist pals Karen Daye-Hutchinson and Helen Paisley. Art Loves was well and truly branded by Kaizen Brand, as was Aly McElroy, who brought her gorgeous new baby girl Tig out to play. Some amazing street artists invited by the man himself, Culture Night organiser extraordinaire and Seedhead Arts founder Adam Turkington, came from all over Ireland and the UK to work on some superb new murals for our city.

Local businesses opened their doors and their minds. Line dancers made Hay outside The Spaniard, Bill Harris Hairdressers had a live gig in between the hairdryers, and our all our best loved drag queens took center stage outside Maverick. With over 100 events, there was so much to do and see that I could not fit it all in, but after a quiet drink served by the Adams Family in Malmaison, I did end up in Villa to watch Lumen before heading off to join the long cab queues to head for home.


Within the last few years, and after the huge international success of Good Boy (their first film together), my lovely friends Conan McIvor and Michael Daly have been creating quite a buzz in the film world with awards flying in everywhere from Los Angeles to Cannes. I was invited to the premier of their latest Short called DAM, starring Conor Doran and Cillian Lenaghan which won Best Short Screenplay at the LA Independent Film Festival Awards. DAM packed out The Movie House on Dublin Road, and was of course attended by Belfast’s great and good. There were a few tears shed in the audience as we watched a very sensitive performance as Dickey and Smurf performed the young men’s ritual of getting drunk whilst meandering through their emotions and pondering life after the suicide of their best mate. DAM supported the charity Mind your Mate and Yourself with the film, and provided an insight into some of the emotional struggles that young men have. We were all invited to join the cast and crew for drinks afterwards in Marcus Ward, where I had a lovely catch up with my boys.


My three children go to Loughview Integrated Primary School, and I am always so pleased to support the Integrated Education Fund, which is a charity that works tirelessly to help our Integrated schools in Northern Ireland. So, it was with a hop and a skip that I went to watch five funny friends of the IEF entertain a huge crowd at the Ulster Hall with a one-off comedy special which raised lots of laughs, whilst raising cash for the fund’s work. Supporters of the IEF gathered before the show to enjoy a VIP reception kindly sponsored by Mervyn McCall, with wine donated by Terry Cross and Chateau de la Ligne. The evening was also sponsored by the family of late and legendary Belfast comedian Frank Carson.

“Stand Up for Integrated Education” brought top names together on stage as mentalist David Meade was joined by comedians Tim McGarry, Neil Dougan, Colin Murphy and Wendy Wason (who seriously made me laugh out loud), generously giving their time in support of the IEF.  All the performers were taking time out from their solo tours and Wendy had just finished an intensive run of 50 shows at the Edinburgh Festival. Thanking the stars for the great night of entertainment, IEF Campaign Chair Baroness May Blood said: “Separating children into different schools from the age of four is not a laughing matter, but it’s good for us to giggle, and it’s all raised valuable funds to help our work at the IEF. The charity exists to grow integrated education in response to parental demand and we couldn’t do it without our generous supporters.”

I am so excited to have been invited by Baroness Blood to attend a dinner at the House of Lords in November with my partner in crime and long-time Integrated Education campaigner and fundraiser, Christine Trueman. Now that will be a night to remember!

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!

Carrie Neely- Arts Diary September 2016

Jennifer Trouton RUA at ArtisAnn

Belfast’s newest gallery, ArtisAnn hosted an exhibition with a selection of paintings from ‘Ellipses’ by Jennifer Trouton RUA as part of Late Night Art Belfast (#LNAB).

Despite being in the east, far away from most of the exhibition openings, lots of lovely creative folk turned up to see the exhibition, which was inspired by the belongings left behind by two brothers that had previsouly lived in Trouton’s home in east Belfast. Amongst the items were personal journals, letters and notes, and a box of slides relating to a trip to Africa in 1981.

Christine Trueman and I arrived, just as Bronagh Lawson was jumping on her bike for the next exhibition. We were welcomed by ArtisAnne owners, Ann McVeigh and Ken Bartley before having a good chat with Jennifer about her work and I was first drawn to Jennifer’s work when I read that E L James had featured a selection of 36 small paintings entitled ‘Looking at the Overlooked’ in her best seller, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.

I have since found her paintings to be exquisite and especially loved a series called ‘Huddled Masses’. Despite her international fame and numerous awards, Jennifer has stayed in sunny Belfast and is a resident at QSS Bedford Street.


Belfast Exposed hosted the Jerwood Photworks Awards exhibition as part of its national tour for Late Night Art. The Jerwood/Photoworks Awards is a scheme that recognises outstanding new photographic talent and the exhibition featured works by Mathew Finn, Joanna Piotrowska and Teresa Zelenkova.

After Mathew Finn’s emotional portraits of his mother moved Christine Trueman to tears, we chatted to the photographer about his life growing up in Leeds. Mathew flew over for the opening, joined by Photoworks director, Celia Davies and programme curator, Mariama Attah. I was welcomed into the packed exhibition by Belfast Exposed Executive Director, Tracey Marshall-Elliott and curator Ciara Hickey and was excited to hear about the upcoming exhibition by one of my heroes of the photographer world, Magnum’s Martin Parr. Our very own Magnum photographer, Donovan Wylie was joined by his young daughter, Esma.

I had a good catch up with Arts Council’s Deirdre Robb, who brought the whole family, Michael Weir who runs the Belfast Photo Festival and Kim Mawhinney, art curator at National Museums Northern Ireland. I bumped into my gorgeous pal Orla McKeating and her boyfriend Daniel Stojcic, before heading out to my third Late Night Art exhibition of the evening. For more information go to:


Tapestry by Jamie Beard

UsFolk illustration agency presented a new exhibition on Late Night Art in association with Belfast Pride Festival 2016. ‘UsFolk Does Pride’ featured the launch of illustrator Jamie Beard’s ongoing portrait project ‘Tapestry NI’, which aims to capture a collective portrait of Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ community.

The Tapestry project aims to provide people with a platform, amplify marginalised voices, and challenge perceptions and stereotypes. Also on display was colourful new work from a wide array of local talent, based around the theme of Pride and everything relating to it. I passed the Deputy Lord Mayor, Mary Ellen Campbell on my way up to the Us Folk Studio in the old Queen Street.

The exhibition was so packed by the time we arrived that they had run out of booze, but Jeff Magill managed to find a few bottles of beer from his secret stash to keep us going.  I had a lovely chat with Mel Carroll, artist and director of Us Folk, and he introduced me to Jamie Beard, who told me he always wanted to make a statement in his work about issues relating to the LBGT community, and to challenge people perceptions. Tapestry is an ongoing project, and each portrait has a very personal story attached. I was gutted to leave before Jamie Beard got out his guitar for an impromptu jam…

More info at:

Ulster Society Of Women Artist

I was flattered to be asked to do the opening address at the Ulster Society of Women Artists 59th Annual Exhibition at the Crescent Arts Centre, but unfortunately I had to pull out last minute due to illness which I felt terrible about!

Kay Cullen, the USWA president, was very understanding and undertook the address and prize giving herself. Kay’s daughter, our own Grainne Maher was there to support her mum and all the artists exhibiting, including one of the USWA’s newest members, the gorgeous Katie Larmour who exhibited her painting ‘Rocky coast at Ramour’ and was supported by her mum Lynne Larmour.

Judith Logan, another new member, won the Lily Davies Award, and other artists that won prizes included Yvonne Williams, Blanche Pepper, Janice Lightowler, Sandra Maze, Edith McClelland, Helen Condy, Aileen Hull, Sinead Farry, and Barbara Ellison who won the Bradbury Graphics Award (my own personal favourite). Awards judges included artists Mary Doran, Frances Ryan, Gary Devon and President Kay Cullen. Also exhibiting was long standing member, and my mum’s oldest pal from art college, Pat McLaughlin who was joined by her husband Alex.

The Ulster Society of Women Artist’s ( U.S.W.A.) was founded by Gladys MacCabe MBE MA (hons) ROI RUA FRSA in 1957. It is hard to believe that at that time, there was no art society in Northern Ireland that would accept women as members. The society holds various exhibitions throughout the year and invites new members annually. Members are elected to the society on the basis of their skills as an artist, through a vigorous selection process which therefore maintains the excellent standard of work within the society.

“The Edit” At Atelier Design

Art Loves was thrilled to be involved in ‘The Edit’ – a unique lifestyle event hosted by Atelier Design which brought together interiors, fashion, art and design under one roof.

A stunning and opulent new interior design showroom in the heart of Belfast was revealed at the exclusive event, which was the perfect backdrop for the gorgeous paintings we chose to exhibit by Parisian artist Floria Otis-Rosimiro and John Kingerlee.

Atelier Design also partnered with Louise Scott Heatley from French Vintage Vie, Grainne Maher from The Vault and Muriel’s Cafe Bar to entertain their guests in their Georgian home at No.7 Wellington Place, Belfast.

French Vintage Vie showcased some delightful vintage French furniture, sourced by organizer extraordinaire Louise on a recent trip to France, the lovely Grainne Maher provided a mobile fashion show throughout the showroom showcasing a range of Irish independent label and her own signature millinery, and Muriel’s treated guests to hand made cocktails on arrival and throughout the evening.

Speaking at the launch, Victor Branco and James Fairley, Directors of Atelier Design said: “We are delighted to open yet another exciting and elegant interiors showroom space here in our newly refurbished Belfast city centre three storey home store. We continually strive to bring luxurious and exclusive furniture and home-ware brands to Ireland”

Atelier Design is a real hidden gem and is well worth a visit, even if it is just to sit in one of the beautiful chairs and pretend it is yours…just for a minute.

Martin Parr – Welcome To Belfast

Martin Parr is one of the best-known documentary photographers of his generation, and I am a huge fan of his work so I was delighted to be invited by Belfast Exposed to meet Martin before the launch of his ‘Welcome to Belfast’ exhibition.

To have an exhibition by a world renowned photographer (and the President of Magnum) is HUGE for Belfast, especially as Parr took such a genuine interest in our city and the ‘Welcome to Belfast’ tourism project, commissioned by Belfast Exposed and supported by the Arts Council NI and Belfast City Council.

The images from his ‘Last Resort’ series are still etched in my mind from when I used to sell his work for eye storm and Magnum in London many years ago, and I chatted to him about how this body of work in particular had such an impact on his career, as well as his time living in Ireland in the 1980’s, his subsequent visits to Belfast and the impact of digital photography and social media has had for photographers today.

The art and photographic community came out en masse to see Martin’s signature style, and he did not fail with his gritty yet witty vision of Belfast which documented some of our particular social presence, with nods of the past and hints of current attitudes. Parr’s greatest advice to photographers is to ‘seek the extraordinary in the ordinary’, and he really does just that.

Stocking Up- The Perfect, Affordable Christmas Stocking Fillers

This Christmas Lidl’s Cien beauty range has everything you need to ensure you are party-ready, from a range of richly pigmented Cien Lipsticks to shimmering Cien Lip Glosses. They come in a selection of six shades to give the lips a sparkling finish. Not forgetting the finishing touch, coat your nails with Cien Nail Polish which comes in a variety of eye-catching colours, available in stores now.

Make bath time fun with a Disney Bath Set which comes complete with a tiara,  this gift is sure to be a big hit with children this Christmas.

For music lovers the Bluetooth Mini Speaker has up to 8 hours of continuous music and can play your favourite tunes up to a 10m range, perfect for getting the Christmas party started.

All of these products are available throughout December in Lidl, just in time for Christmas.

Ara – The Perfect Winter Boot

Ara is all about fashion and comfort this season with their fantastic Winter boot range. As with all Ara styles you are guaranteed smooth leathers, soft cushioned inner socks and light weight soles providing extreme comfort making you feel you are walking on cloud 9. The new trends this season are both glamorous and striking with eye catching details such as chains and rhinestones finishes on the tip or heel area. Also in the range there are exciting new two tone combinations. Many styles go perfectly with the new skirt lengths. See for yourself on

Enter This Month’s Competitions – December 2016


Hastings Hotels has teamed up with the Ulster Tatler to give one lucky reader the chance to win a fabulous £100 of Hastings Hotels gift vouchers which you can give to someone special this Christmas – or keep for yourself as a special treat!

As the season for giving approaches and thoughts of stressful shopping trips, long queues and parking nightmares spring to mind, the Hastings Hotels Group has a solution that will help take the strain out of your trips to the shops this Christmas!

Hastings Hotels gift vouchers will solve all your Christmas present worries in no time at all as the versatile vouchers can grant Christmas wishes all year round at any of the six luxurious hotels.

A Hastings gift voucher gives recipients the chance to enjoy some luxurious and unforgettable experiences at any of their six stunning hotels.


You have chosen the perfect present so they can enjoy the perfect experience, be it a romantic dinner for two over candlelight, a luxury weekend break, a delicious afternoon tea, an utterly indulgent spa treatment or even a round of drinks at the bar.

Every budget is catered for with gift vouchers available from £10 to much, much more.

One lucky winner will win £100  of gift vouchers, which can be spent in any of the six hotels.

To purchase Hastings Gift vouchers visit or contact Head Office on 028 9047 1066.

To be in with a chance of winning simply answer the following question:

Q: How many Hastings Hotels are there in Northern Ireland?

To enter, answer the question above and send your answers to Ulster Tatler/Hastings Hotel Competition, 39 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6HR by Friday 30th December 2016.

Alternatively email your answers to:




Beauty Within is located in  the Tempest store in Bangor Main Street. Gillian and her team are talented stylists and therapists. The team specialise in all areas of beauty from nails and waxing, to hair and make-up.

Beauty Within are treating one lucky reader to a Glam night out package worth over £35 which includes a make-up application and a blow dry or an up style or GHD curls from our talented Stylist Lisa – Lisa has a natural flair for creating formal and wedding hair.

Also included will be a make-up application by our Make-up Artist Rebecca Ferguson. Rebecca will make you look flawless with her skills as an MUA. She can give you a natural look or a bold and daring look!

Love, The Beauty Within Team.


To enter, please answer the question below:

Q: What town is Beauty Within located?

Send your answers to Ulster Tatler/Beauty Within Competition, 39 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6HR by Tuesday 20th December 2016.

Alternatively email your answers to:


Northern Ireland Couples Can’t Wait For Weddings

Brides-to-be across Northern Ireland are following the lead of their favourite Hollywood couples and choosing short engagements ahead of long, drawn-out events. With A-list couples like Cameron Diaz engaged to to Benji Madden for a blink-and-you-miss-it 17 days, and supermodel Gisele Bundchen married to Tom Brady just one month after he proposed, the trend for by-passing a long engagement to be with the one you love is gathering pace.

It’s a trend that the 5-Star Lough Erne Resort have recognised, and with increasing demand for shorter engagements the weddings team have created a bespoke ‘When Love Won’t Wait’ package which includes all the essential aspects for the big day, making it perfect for couples who just want to get on with the business of being married.

The luxury Lough Erne Resort, nestled in the heart of the stunning Fermanagh Lakelands, can cater for up to 300 family and friends, with a gourmet menu created by the award-winning Chef Noel McMeel, who was recently named a Hospitality hero by the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

Lough Erne Resort Concierge Gordon Elder is on hand as Jessica Turley swaps her running shoes for designer heels with her very own price charming Paudy Lunny at the five star venue, as new trends show couples from across Northern Ireland are racing up the aisle rather than settling for a long engagement.

General Manager William Kirby says the demand for the resort’s new When Love Won’t Wait wedding package shows a major shift in wedding choices within Ireland.

“The reasoning behind a long engagement in recent years has been to plan and perhaps save for the celebration. With a shift in couples now living together and buying houses prior to engagement, the need for waiting to get married has significantly reduced. Our new ‘When Love Won’t Wait’ wedding package at Lough Erne Resort is perfect for couples that don’t want to compromise or postpone their marriage any longer but want an excellent price point with unrivalled lakeside views and 5-Star service.

The “When Love Won’t Wait” wedding package offers a Lemonade Bar on arrival with tea, coffee and shortbread followed by a sumptuous five course banqueting menu with a half bottle of House Wine per guest and evening reception. The Ross Suite at Lough Erne Resort will include chair covers, sashes and candelabras for each table as part of the package. Ahead of the big day to ensure the dining options on the big day are perfect, each couple will enjoy a menu tasting session, with a complimentary 1 Night Bed and Breakfast stay to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in style!

Get to Glasgow

Ulster Tatler’s Joanne Harkness discusses her shopping day trip to Glasgow. 


It is that time of year again; Christmas shopping has to be done, whether you love it or hate it. So why not make an occasion out of it? Glasgow is the second best shopping area in the UK after London and getting there couldn’t be easier, so what better place to grab your gifts and enjoy a day out with friends and family?

‘People Make Glasgow’ very kindly invited me along for a day trip to Glasgow where I got to experience first hand how ideal it is as a shopping destination.

An early start was in order to catch the Stena Line. An early start that was eased by stepping into the luxury of the Stena Plus lounge. My eyes lit up at the sight of a breakfast bar with delicious pastries, fruit, juices and much more. I could then just sit back and relax in the comfortable seating area and enjoy my complimentary breakfast treats. Before I knew it we had arrived in Scotland; I was almost reluctant to leave what had felt like a lavish cruise ship. We hopped straight onto the coach to take us into Glasgow where I could stare out at the beautiful Scottish scenery, and of course, catch a few winks of sleep – after all I needed to recharge my batteries for the shopping trip ahead.

We touched down in glorious Glasgow just in time for lunch and headed straight to Buchanan Galleries for a bite to eat. The food court was made up of bespoke street food restaurants, a unique idea that I hope catches on here in Northern Ireland. I delved into a scrumptious pizza that was made fresh in front of my eyes and finished it off with a chocolate cupcake.


With my tummy filled I was more than ready to set off and explore the shops. First stop was to scour the vintage shops in Glasgow’s West End. It is always an experience getting to search through all the interesting pieces that appear in vintage shops, you never know what hidden gem you might find.

After stepping back in time in the vintage shops I then headed back to the city centre to see what the high street shops had to offer. It didn’t disappoint – every high street shop you could think of was available. I also made sure I popped into some of the Scottish shops to check out the kilts.

In perfect time, just as I had finished searching through the last shop on my list, it was time to catch the coach. Again, I think I might have caught another few winks of sleep on the journey back but I can put it down to a case of shopping ‘til you drop!’ I was eager to get back on the boat because there was another element yet to discover – the Nordic Spa. Yes that is right, there was a spa on the boat! It was complete luxury pulling on a cozy robe and slippers lounging by the jacuzzi and for the ultimate relaxation I had a back massage to take away strain from carrying all those shopping bags. A perfect end to a perfect day.

From as little as £10 for a day return on Stena line it would be a crime not to treat yourself to a day in Glasgow.


My Style featuring Cathy Martin & Victor Branco

As said by fashion guru Coco Chanel: “fashion changes, but style endures.” Each issue, we introduce you to stylish local people who enviably manage demanding work schedules while looking polished to perfection. 

CATHY MARTIN – CMPR and Belfast FASHIONWEEK Managing Director. 

Cathy Martin

How has your style changed over the years?

I am not sure it has changed much at all. I spent every summer in my late teens and then most of my twenties living in France or Italy, with a few American summers thrown in for good measure. I think I was very influenced by the classic styles of the French and Italians, but also loved their ability to throw in a statement accessory, or coat to jazz up an otherwise ‘safe’ look & provide a talking point. This is still pretty much how I dress, twenty years on. I have become better at recycling clothes and sell a bit on eBay, or via re-sale events.

VICTOR BRANCO – Interior Designer and Director of Atelier-Design Belfast.

Victor Branco

How has your style changed over the years?

Over the years my style may has changed from a relaxed, smart/casual look to a more sharp tailored look but I always liked well designed, timeless and statement pieces, especially coats. A good pair of well fitted jeans have always been a ‘must have’ in my wardrobe and my latest obsession is my collection of bow ties!

For full coverage of features like this one, you can pick up a copy of the November issue of the Ulster Tatler which is one sale now.