Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey attended the opening of a new exhibition paying tribute to many of Belfast’s leading authors, playwrights, poets and composers at Titanic Belfast last night.
Neil Shawcross, one of Ireland’s most eminent artists, has gifted his complete ‘Writers of Belfast’ collection to Belfast City Council in appreciation of his ‘home’ city, and it will be on public display in the Andrews Gallery until Thursday 1 November, a part of Belfast International Arts Festival.
Councillor Hargey said: “Neil is one of our finest artists and I was absolutely thrilled to meet with him and see some of his work; he is an amazing talent.
“I am delighted to accept Neil’s very generous and special gift on behalf of Belfast City Council and it’s fantastic that everyone will have an opportunity to see this collection, free of charge.
“’Writers of Belfast’ is as much a celebration of our homegrown talent – our city’s writers, books, our literature and drama – as it is an art exhibition.”
She added: “We feel this important collection will be of real interest to both citizens and visitors, and it’s also a great way of showcasing some of Belfast’s greatest writers down through the decades.”
The people featured in the collection range from the renowned CS Lewis, John Hewitt, Van Morrison and Marie Jones, to the perhaps lesser-known Thomas Carnduff, Forrest Reid, Padraic Fiacc, and Deirdre Ni Grianna.
Whilst not strictly a Belfast native, the late Seamus Heaney is also featured, given that he lived and worked in the city for so long, and with such distinction.
The exhibition is one of the highlights of this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival and a special outreach programme has been arranged to give people an insight into the exhibition and Neil Shawcross’s art practice.
Festival Director and Chief Executive, Richard Wakely, said: “Belfast International Arts Festival is delighted to partner with Belfast City Council to host this exhibition and in doing so, to celebrate the artistry of Neil Shawcross and the wealth of literary talent that is at its centre. The exhibition reminds us that authors, poets and composers are a crucial and valued part of the Belfast story.”
The accompanying engagement and outreach programme, specially curated by the Festival includes a number of events which are free but must be booked in advance:
• Neil Shawcross in conversation with Prof Liam Kelly, Thursday 25 October, 1pm;
• Writing the City: writing workshops, Saturday 27 October, 11am and 2pm;
• Gallery tour with Dr Denise Ferran, Wednesday 24 October, 1pm;
• Gallery tour with Dan Dowling (in Irish), Saturday 27 October, 4pm;
• Writing Ourselves: Women Writers of Belfast, Tuesday 30 October, 6pm
For more information on all of these, and the exhibition visit: www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events and www.BelfastInternationalArtFestival.com
‘Writers of Belfast’ will be on public display from Wednesday 24 October until Thursday 1 November, 9am-6pm.