Expanded Studios Project

Expanded Studio Project
23 – 31 August 2019

Opening: Thursday, 22 August, 6-8pm at PS² - Belfast

Participating artists
Alex Brunt; Declan Proctor; Esther O’Kelly; Zara Lyness; Gerard Carson; Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell; Robin Price; Jackie Wylie; Thomas Wells; Heather Dornan Wilson; Sinead McKeever; Grace McMurray; Barry Mulholland; Hannah McBride; Chris Lewis Jones; Roger Suckling; Bex Gamble; Bruce Asbestos; Christine Stevens; Frank Abbot; Georgina Barney; Ines Garcia, Louisa Chambers; Marek Tobolewski; Mik Godley; Paul Webber; Pete Ellis; Rhiannon Jones; Sarah Tutt

The presentation at PS² is not an exhibition of finished work, rather a showcase of peer outcomes created through collective ideas, conversations and self-directed activities.

On 28 September a symposium will take place in Primary Studios, Nottingham, where the full group of artists will reconvene to discuss the project, its challenges and possible further development.

The Expanded Studio Project is a 6 month collaborative initiative between Belfast based artists and artists based at Primary Studios, Nottingham. The aim of the project is to develop external relationships, exchange ideas and explore different modes of collaboration.
The project is based on a pilot programme which ran between Primary Studios in Nottingham and Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge in 2014-15 where artists engaged in a period of dialogue and exchange over a four-month period.

The challenge this time was to initiate and sustain collaboration across further geographical distance between England and Northern Ireland. In addition the Belfast participants are based across several different artists’ studios. (These include QSS- Queen Street Studios-, FLAX Studios, Array Studios, Creative Exchange Artists’ Studios, Pollen Studios and Vault studios.

Through planned visits to each other’s cities and continued conversations and emails, artists began either ‘partnering up’ or discussing ways that they could come together in groups to find a way to work together through continued communication and find a means to respond to each other’s ideas.




Frottage of Esthers Ladder by Chris Lewis Jones, Artist based at Primary Nottingham.

Frottage of Esthers Ladder by Chris Lewis Jones, Artist based at Primary Nottingham.

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The first visit of the Belfast based artists to Nottingham will take place between 23- 26 April.


I was delighted to be asked back to paint at HTN18. I returned to paint on North Street alongside some of the most internationally star studded line up to date.

From Colombia to Australia and Portadown to Poleglass, street artists and muralists came to the city on 20th & 21st September to bring their unique brand of colour, flair and creativity to radically transform the Northside of the city centre.

There wasd international depth to this year’s programme featuring artists from Belgium (Dzia), Italy (Alice Pasquini), Holland (Nol) Australia (Danni Simpson), Switzerland (Sonic Oner), Colombia (Sancho MDN & Visual) joined by artists from the UK and for the first time this year Tape That from Berlin. Tape That installed their artwork at the Bullitt Hotel on 18th & 19th September before moving over to Blaklist for the main festival on 20th & 21st September.

This year's line up included AnnatomixTape ThatRogue-one (graffiti)Danni Simpson ArtSonic onerDzia & SonsAlice PasquiniConzo ThrobCiaran GlöbelSancho Mdn, Visual, Michael Nol, KVLR, FrizJMK ART, DMC, EmicVerz Art, FGB ,  Rob Hilken - Visual ArtistLeo Boyd & Laura NelsonHolly Pereira Illustration, Wee Nuls, Gary Real RoweDoc, Morgy, Conor McClure Illustration, Voms, Shuk, ADW artistCaoilfhionn Hanton ArtKathrina Rupit - Kinmx, Rask, Aches, Emmalene ArtMARK_one_SZOVanessa PowerShane O Malley Art, Novice, Mack, Ominus Omin, Vents Dublin, Stay Lo, So Fly, SUBSET & Esther O'Kelly Artist,

Hit the North Street Art Festival was established by Seedhead Arts and the Community Arts Partnership in 2013 as a response to vacant space along North Street and to transform the streets of the Cathedral Quarter. It has become one of the biggest street art festivals in Ireland and attracts artists from across Europe.




Images by @campbellphotography

Artist Launch at Pigyard

Gorgeously colourful abstract canvases by emerging artist Esther O'Kelly.

In the same way that a flower fragrance or a tune takes us back to a special place and time, the Belfast- based artist uses her paintings to explore familiar memories and experiences, at once universal and personal, of growing up in Rosslare. This is O'Kelly's second one person show at the Pigyard. We have great hopes for her fine art career and viewing is recommended.


Esther O'Kelly and author Cat Hogan, guest speaker at Esther's exhibition of paintings, 'To & Fro in My Dreams', which opened on Friday. Two Wexford artists who share a maritime background.

Just for one day. The 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement as depicted by Esther O’Kelly


‘Keening is a traditional form of vocal lament for the dead. In Ireland and Scotland it is customary for women to wail or keen at funerals. Keening has also been used as part of civil disobedience and protest.’ 

‘Keening’ is a collection of paintings informed by my own experience of living in Belfast in the shadow of conflict. Using memory and intuition, the work intends to evoke the everyday spirit of Belfast, to define our sense of place and community. These paintings look beyond the illusion of talks and deals to everyday life. They explore the raw beauty of who we are, our basic need to live in peace, in this place where the violent echoes of our past are still reverberating. 

I see The Good Friday Agreement as a vessel that holds the grief of a community in escrow. These paintings explore our fragile human state, how we experience loss and how we haveagreed to place our trust in such a fragile concept as a peace deal. The Good Friday Agreement honours our connection to the past and promises to shape our future, but Stormont now stands as an abandoned house. All the while lives are lived and lost, children have come and gone, family life continues to be sucked into the passage of time and the precious moments we live for are fleeting.  

The venue for ‘Keening’ is Joan’s Hair Salon. A place where everyday life takes place, where we laugh, gossip, cry and grieve. A place at the heart of our community, a place to be vulnerable. A place where we reveal the hidden elements below the skin of this place called home. 


Belfast Bankers Group Show

Saturday November 18th our studio take over Framewerk Gallery. Featuring the paintings, sculpture, photography and sound stylings of the Belfast Bankers.


Hit The North, Collaboration.

Hit the North was a great success, full credit to Seedhead Arts for pulling off such a fantastic festival. Over 40 Local and International artists painting the streets of Belfast during Culture Night! what a buzz. I painted a wall on Kent Street, it lasted a few hours before being bombed. While I'm not impressed with the Clandestine tagging of my work, Neuf got there before me, albeit a week after I was first assigned the wall.

Neuf Said.