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Art is Life...

October 05, 2007

The Plowhaus Artists Cooperative Fundraiser this Saturday

The Plowhaus Gallery, Nashville

I saw via the Interweb that the Plowhaus Artists' Collective is having a fund-raiser this Saturday at the Alley Cat Lounge and Tex-Mex Grill.

Excited as always Dear Listener to explore the aesthetic of whatever new town I'm in I sped over to the Plowhaus Gallery on East 17th to see what art was cooking and to speak to the locals about the scene here.

As per usual I didn't check the opening hours of the venue, so like my 'I Dream of Weenie' and 'Craft Fair' experiences I found myself outside of a locked building, alone.  I've really got to do better planning.

Turns out the Gallery is only open on the weekends.  But, they do have a sign on the door with names and numbers of people to call and open the place up if you really want to see the art inside; what a great idea!  Kinda like doctors on call.  Art doctors on call! 

Anyhew,  I didn't want to bother anyone so I didn't ring; just wandered around a bit.

Behind the Plowhaus Gallery, Nashville

The shot above is the gallery's back door; off an alley way on the side of the building.  I, like you I suspect, was intrigued by that drainage pipe sticking out of the chain-link fence.

Drain Behind the Plowhaus Gallery, Nashville

I especially like that 'goo'/sealant around the hinge.  Good stuff.

Well, not many adventures to be had that day at the gallery am afraid - I'll do my best to attend the fund-raiser; I don't know these Plowhaus folks but the idea of an Artists' Collective sounds interesting and God knows the world needs art now more than ever.  If you're in Nashville this Saturday why not go out and show your support?

The Plowhaus Artists Cooperative presents
A Fundraiser at the Alley Cat Lounge and Tex-Mex Grill

I leave you with the fellow below - spied on the Plowhaus' alley wall.  Have a good day everyone!

(Special thanks to Beth Seiters, whose blog 'Drawing the Void' alerted me to Saturday's activities).

Wall Behind the Plowhaus Gallery, Nashville


May 22, 2007

The New Belfast

Buildings in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Have just created a 'flickr group': The New Belfast.

From the 'group description':

"The world has a stereotypical view of Belfast stemming from news reports that focused on the Troublings.

This group is for photos that reflect the both the New Belfast: a city changing fast with the influx of capital and those from other lands, and images of the area that have not historically been seen as a face of the town."

If you've got some interesting photos of Belfast have fun adding them!

Your humble servant,



May 03, 2007

Man From Below

Every once in a while you stumble across something on the Interweb that makes you praise its existence.  'Man From Below TV' is one of those somethings. 

Click above to watch 'Man From Below TV Episode 2'

Click here to go to the 'Man From Below' Website

Click here to go to the 'Man From Below' YouTube Channel

I love his hat and whole 'self-sustainable system' concept.  I'm going to be in London soon and will try to hook up with him.  Perhaps I can bring the MFB concept to Belfast?


April 23, 2007

Community Arts Forum Rally to Launch Campaign for Increased Arts Funding in Northern Ireland

Woman seen through a window at the Community Arts Forum, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Just received a press release from those fine folks at the Community Art Forum.  It turns out the level of funding for the Arts in Northern Ireland is the lowest in all of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  To raise awareness of this and agitate for increased funding the CAF is holding a rally this Wednesday at 10:30am, Writer's Square in Belfast.   Long time listeners to the Show know that I believe passionately in the power of Art to do good - if you're in Belfast this Wednesday why not make the time to come down?

For more information go to:

or call:


(Photograph above:  Woman seen through a window at the CAF)

(Original Press Release from the CAF is below)

RALLY to LAUNCH - the campaign for increased arts funding

10.30am - 11.30am Wed 25 April

Writer’s Square, Belfast (opposite St Anne’s Cathedral)
Community Arts Forum if inclement
Every voice is vital

Be there- act now!

In December an open meeting of artists and arts organisations agreed to campaign for increased
government arts funding. The meeting appointed a Steering Group to devise plans to get the attention of the arts Minister and local politicians in time to influence the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Invest in Inspiration is the result. We hope you will throw your weight behind it. This is our one big chance to work together to make a difference.

The call is for an arts budget of £10 per person per year. This would bring Northern Ireland closer to the level of expenditure in GB and the Republic and is in line with the figures behind the Arts Council’s Five Year Plan.

The Rally to launch the campaign is vital to show the extent and strength of feeling behind the call. Following this everyone is being asked to contact the arts Minister by emailing direct from the campaign website, and by signing campaign postcards available from arts venues from May.

• Get your friends, audiences and participants to sign and return postcards to arts venues

• Go to the website and send the campaign email to the arts Minister and MLA’s
• Send info and a link to everyone you can and put it on your own website and email signature

• Get together with other local arts groups / artists to run a media event to grab local paper coverage, showing what your work contributes and what more you could do with proper investment.

See for more or call one of the Steering Group via 07764182966

At just £6.13 per person a year, government arts spending in
Northern Ireland is the lowest in the UK & Ireland. (av. £10)


April 11, 2007

'Fresh Meat' at the Black Box

A hipster enjoys a performance at Fresh Meat, the Black Box, Belfast, Northern Ireland
If you're looking for something to do in Belfast on Thursday nights you can't do better than Fresh Meat at the Black Box.

I must admit Dear Reader that I was initially put off by the name of the event which conjured up visions in my mind of some horrible amateur comedy night; but boy was I pleasantly surprised.

An interesting performance at the Black Box, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Billing itself as an 'avant garde music miniature open-mic' experience the evening was a delight from start to finish - highlights included the gentleman above communicating through some sort of water-filled device, a Russian soprano and group piano playing.

A group performance at Fresh Meat, the Black Box, Belfast, Northern Ireland
I loved the surreal and whimsical nature of the proceedings that evening - in this world of constant advertisement, that is driving us to consume I find that Surrealism / Dadism is an extremely viable aesthetic, moral and political response.

A man smiles during a performance at the Black Box, Belfast, Northern Ireland

I left Fresh Meat suitably refreshed Dear Listener and walked around night-time Belfast with a spring in my step.

Trash strewn lot opposite the Black Box, Belfast


March 14, 2007

Unpaid Intern Erin's Guide of Things To Do in Belfast This Week

Ruby Colley Plays the Violin
Thursday, March 15th. Shortly after arriving in Belfast, I was sitting in a coffee shop pondering why I was here and what there was to do around town that would make me forget the fact that it was pissing rain outside.  I was routed out of my self-pitying reverie by the sight of a young man in a maroon crushed velvet smoking jacket carrying a ukulele case.  There seemed to be no other option than to pose the latter of my questions to him.  One of his suggestions was not to miss a chance to see The Delawares.  You can follow our ukulele wielding friend’s advice this Thursday at the Empire.

Friday, March 16th.  We really like Ruby Colley here at team LTA because, frankly, there just aren’t enough female experimental violinists in the world today and we’re glad she’s trying to fill that niche.  You can check her out at the Pavilion this Friday.  Doors open at 9 PM.  Hopefully, she might just pop up again on LTA.

Saturday, March 17th. I’ve written enough about St. Patrick’s day, at least for this year, so go find yourself a fake orange beard and make yourself an ethnic stereotype, for WKD’s sake.

The cryptic suggestion of the week is to check out “Spectrum City Was the Name” at Catalyst Arts Gallery.  This exhibition, if that’s what it is, is produced by Bad Beuys Entertainment, a French collective from the Parisian suburb of  Cergy-Pontoise.  I tried looking on Catalyst Arts website to find out more about their latest show but they’re still clinging to the glory days of the much celebrated work “The Bath is Hot”, and haven’t managed to update their website.  Dipping into the ever-so reputable world of the blogosphere, I found this description of the artists in question: “Bad Beuys Entertainment is: a political party—a rock ‘n’ roll band—a ham-fisted team—a company producing works of art—a zulu’s mob.  They could be interesting or they could just be French.  Either way, “Spectrum City Was the Name” wins the prize for the cryptic choice of the week.  It’s on till April 7th, I think it's free, so why not go check it out?

And finally...the Belfast Film Festival starts next week and I'll be posting about the upcoming films each and every day of the festival.  So, if you want to know what I'll be seeing--think documentaries and little known war zones--then check out the posts.  Better yet though, check out the film festival website to find films you might like and book your tickets in advance.


March 08, 2007

"Out of the Darkness" Press Photography Exhibit at Ormeau Baths Gallery

Photo by Alan Lewis, December 2002 - Letterbox device. Six-year-old twins were at home when a loyalist pipe bomb exploded.
The work of sixty-three members of the Northern Ireland Press Photographers Association is on display from March 8th until March 24th at Ormeau Baths Gallery.   The exhibit, entitled “Out of the Darkness” opens the day after the Northern Irish assembly election.  While I was told that this was purely a coincidence, not only did it assure international press coverage (as evidenced by the Spanish film crew that were setting up as we were leaving) but more importantly, it illustrated just how historic the expected power-sharing government between two historic enemies really is.  In the shiny, Starbucks version of Belfast, it is far too easy to forget the dark days of random killings, internment, and general fear that existed on this small area of a small island for several decades.

When you walk into the gallery, you are immediately confronted by the bleakness of Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s.  The room is filled with blown-up black and white photographs that include images of a fatal shot of a rubber bullet, a man surveying the ruins of his home, a teenager who had been tarred, feathered, and tied to a lamppost by the IRA, and perhaps the most intriguing, an escaped tiger cornered by a gunman on the Shore Road.

The next room becomes more sanitized as the photographs shift into colour.  Digital photos of grieving family members and the aftermath of bombings are interspersed with sports photos and human-interest shots of Stormont on a snowy day.  While this room probably represented a more even-handed and nuanced portrayal of life in Northern Ireland, which has suffered from the simplistic, American driven portrayals found in Captain Planet and The Devil’s Own, the evocative quality of the images in the first room showed the difference between photography as art instead of merely the recording of events.

At a recent community meeting concerning methods of dealing with Northern Ireland’s past, a participant offered, “Not everyone here is a victim, but we are all survivors.”  The images you see in this exhibit are reminders of what Northern Ireland has survived over the past forty years; the images you see when you walk out of Ormeau Baths Gallery into the construction zones of the new Belfast are evidence of what Northern Ireland is becoming and will be. 

Don’t miss this exhibit—it’s worth the time, it’s free, and it’s up until March 24th.

(Photo above by Alan Lewis, December 2002)


March 02, 2007

Unpaid Intern Erin's Guide to this week in Belfast

The Bath is Hot, by Joanna Karolini
Friday, March 2. A man so sure of himself that he turned down an opportunity to be part of the Rolling Stones and so influential that Eric Clapton credits him with introducing him to the blues, the legendary Rory Gallagher, while not back from the dead, is imitated by tribute band Double Vision at Morrison’s tonight.

To get you in the Rory Gallagher tribute band mood, you can start your evening off at No Alibis with an atmospheric evening of poetry at their Candle and Mirror Poetry night.  Held every first Friday of the month at 7 pm.

Saturday, March 3.  What I liked about the Alternative alternative club night, Bop Yestrum, at the Pavilion was that they advertise the play list so that you can decide ahead of time if you feel like listening to Brian Eno on a Saturday night.  You make the call, but if the answer’s yes, head on down to the Pavilion

Sunday, March 4.  Our favourite transformance artists, Ikon, once described as “365 days of lent,” are showing us what doubt is all about at their monthly service at the Black Box. Starts at 8 pm.

Tuesday, March 6.  If you’ve been looking for a good place to wear your togs in public, search no more ‘cause artist Joanna Karolini has kindly created a tog-friendly environment in her installation, “The Bath is Hot” at Catalyst Arts Gallery.  This traditional Finnish sauna is free and open to the public as long as you “bring towels, togs and flip-flops.  Karolini says of her creation, "I wish a broad audience to use the gallery as a meeting place and the sauna to be a catalyst for social exchange, discussions and a warm platform where other events can take place."  Tuesday from 6 to 9 pm is nudes mixed.  If you don’t want to be naked in an environment of co-ed strangers, it’s a ladies only sauna experience on Wednesday, and gents only on Thursday night.  This exhibition leaves on March 9th so catch this warm platform where other events may or may not take place while you can.

Thursday, March 8. If there’s a fragmented version of a play just dying to get out of you, Tinderbox Theatre’s Writing Workshop offers adhesive assistance from 7 pm to 9 pm.  The first of three spring workshops claims they will “make use of the canon,” helping you to structure that staggering work of heartbreaking genius into something that will finally let you quit your day job.

So, those are my picks for this week in Belfast.  From candle-lit poetry to Finish saunas, the world's your oyster here in Northern Ireland.

The Bath is Hot, by Joanna Karolini

(Photos at the Top and Above from 'The Bath is Hot')


December 20, 2006

Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

Woman examines the Art at the Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

Hey there Dear Listener - went to the Arts Society of Ulster's 10th Anniversary Exhibition last evening - here's some wee photos for those of you who missed the event.

Now I normally despise openings cause you have to pretend - not the fun kind of pretend where you get to invent stories about yourself and your various exploits - but the kind of pretend where you have to be polite and restrain yourself from sneering at the complete lack of artistry mixed with misguided ambition normally on display at these kind of things.

What's that?

You're calling me an asshole?

A jerk?

Who am I to look down at this collection of, well - OK it is mostly hopeless - but heartfelt work?

Well, you're right of course.

I am being a jerk cause the Arts Society of Ulster's 'main aim is to promote and encourage interest in the fine and applied arts in Northern Ireland', (quote from their catalogue).

And there's nothing wrong with that.  Long-time listeners of the Podcast know how devoted  I am to the propagation of art - and my commitment to art's potential in making the world a better place; and hey, not only do they show work, the Arts Society also organises various courses in areas such as 'life drawing' and awards prizes to young artists and designers. 

So enough of my bitching at the variable quality of the work.  Hell, I can't paint or draw so what right do I have to complain?

No right - so here's some more photos from the opening instead:

Not sure what's happening below.  It's possible they had some sort of disagreement.

Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

This is typical of the work shown:

Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

I hope these two had a good time.  You could buy the art at the show so perhaps they were shopping for a last minute Christmas gift.

Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

This photo is kind of a buffer, and I'll tell you why:

Arts Society of Ulster 10th Anniversary Exhibition

You see - I know I shouldn't bitch.  I agree with what I said above.  I have no right to complain about the work.  Heck, a lot of the artists in the show aren't 'professional' in the traditional sense...but...there is one painting in the show.

It's the worst painting in the world.

I've deliberately hidden it far down in this post to spare you in case you do not have the constitution Dear Reader.

Scroll down if you must.

(Keep Scrolling)

(Almost There)

(Here it comes...)

The Worst Painting in the World

Good lord that's bad.

OK.  Enough of that. 

If I really believe I can do better than I have to put my money where my mouth, (blog?), is and try myself.  So I went out and got a couple of books, (OK - the 'Zen of Seeing' was actually a gift that I really have not looked at yet).

Fundamentals of Drawing

I'm going to teach myself to draw folks.  If I can't draw or illustrate then I have no right to judge that monstrosity that lurks farther up this post.  I'll start on my trip to the States and report back to you in the next podcast.  Wish me luck.

And if you're in Belfast in the next couple of weeks you could do worse than to visit the Exhibition - here's the details:

Arts Society of Ulster - 10 Annual Exhibition - 2006
The Switch Room
84-89 Great Patrick Street, Belfast
Exhibition continues every day from Wednesday 20th of December till Friday 29th December, excluding Christmas and Boxing Day, 10am till 5pm.

Exhibition Location on Google Maps


November 29, 2006

New Series of Events at Interface

Play the video above for information on a new series of events orchestrated by those fine folks at Interface:

Interface Website

This talk in particular comes especially recommended, (text from the press release):

30 November, 6.00pm, Lecture Theatre, School of Art and Design

Krzysztof Wodiczko, an highly influential artist in the area of engaged and political art practice, will discuss his work as intersections of art, ideology and media, using public projections and installations.

Interface Previously on Letter to America:

Sample: Interface at PS2

Sample: Interface at PS2 - Part 2

Information on Interface provided by their website:

INTERFACE is an interdisciplinary and practice based research centre situated in the School of Art and Design, University of Ulster, Belfast campus. It is a key element in a substantial redevelopment of the Belfast campus and has been established since April 2004.

INTERFACE explores two key processes that underlie innovative research practice in art and design. One is the investigation and redefinition of inherited categories of value and the other is the impact of digital media and new technologies on the production, distribution and mediation of art and design. Both areas are examined in the context of the wider social/economic/political arena of Northern Ireland and in the world.

INTERFACE builds on the success of distinct areas of excellence in research activity within the School of Art and Design. These are – research in Fine Art into location and context, temporary, site-specific work and documentation issues and, in Textiles, research into textile art, design and new technologies. Research in textiles has been integral to significant technological, artistic and design innovations, while, in Fine Art, an emphasis on place and context has contributed to critical change in transnational debate and practice, which now stress engagement with the politics of location.

In INTERFACE, artists and designers, as Lecturers and Researchers, with Postgraduate and PhD students, engage in advanced explorations of these issues and related processes of change. INTERFACE as practice based initiative, unique in Ireland and internationally develops diverse and innovative research and outcomes with international reach.

INTERFACE involves new partnerships and forms of collaborations and the development of new ways of thinking and working at local, national and transnational levels and also with cross-border dimensions in the Irish context.

The Centre will articulate the University of Ulster’s emphasis on the vital role that art and cultural practice can play in the emergence of Northern Ireland society from thirty years of conflict and civil unrest. INTERFACE takes full account of its context in Belfast and Northern Ireland.



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