Night Music at The MAC

I’ve been a little bit boring recently. There, I’ve said it. I could put it down to lousy winter weather, too much work or too little money, but frankly I’ve been choosing the sofa over the socialising lately, thus having significantly less to contribute to a blog which essentially revolves around getting out and about.

A temporary glitch, I’m sure.

However, do not lose all faith in me yet. A few weeks ago I attended an evening of “Night Music”, a monthly event advertised as formal music in an informal setting, which was simply wonderful. I wanted to share it with you as soon as I arrived home, but life got in the way as it has a habit of doing, so I’m making a point of telling you now so you can go and enjoy the next performance in early March!

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As many of you are I’m sure aware, recent budget cuts have hit Northern Ireland’s Arts scene arguably the hardest of all, which is a real shame as it’s something which a lot of people, myself included, are very proud of and keen to support. The trending campaign #13pforthearts at the end of last year highlighted the extremity of the situation, with the sector being allocated just 13p per head of population per week. Shameful. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that in times of need we must prioritise on fundamental cornerstones such as healthcare and education, but I can’t help thinking there could have been a more fair decision reached in terms of sustaining our country’s arts and culture sector?

That being said, I was very glad to pick up a flyer for Night Music at the MAC (one of my favourite art venues in Belfast), the first of a set of monthly events for some of our most talented musicians to showcase their musical style. February’s musicians were called The Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble (quite apt considering the weather outside) and are a contemporary music group from Belfast. I was too consumed in the moment to record them on the night, but for those of you who are interested, here’s a short clip of what they do best…

Growing up I played the piano and the flute and so I know only too well the level of skill and determination required to perform as flawlessly as this group did. The evening pulled in a healthy crowd and it was obvious to see the rest of the room appreciated the 90 minute performance as much as I did. With a glass of red wine in hand, it was the perfect way to spend a rainy Wednesday evening in February.

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It feels quite fitting that I should leave you with the words of Andrew Lloyd Webber. But first, definitely check out Night Music’s next event on Wednesday 4th March, and say hello if you see me there! More details can be found by following @Night_Music_  on Twitter!

“Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light,

And listen to the music of the night.”

Kathy x

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Breathtaking NI Landscapes: 54 Degrees North Photography

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Since moving back to Belfast it’s been impossible for me to stay away from St. George’s Market – it’s the perfect Sunday spot for a relaxing morning of tasty food and live music whilst perusing over the local arts and crafts scene here in Northern Ireland. Yesterday morning was no exception, and with the first glimpse of summer sun I set off to enjoy the market atmosphere and see what bargains I could find. I hadn’t arrived long before I stumbled upon 54 Degrees North.

Ian Gazzard is a visual artist who specializes in panoramic landscape photography, using his passion and creativity to bring some extra romance to Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes. What strikes me most about his work is the intensity of colour he captures through his lens, and how he seems to effortlessly blend the historic subject with a twist of contemporary style.

The panoramic style of his photography combined with the local views really works to bring his prints to life; it’s almost as if you’re standing there, taking in the atmospheric views with him.

Here are a few of my favourite prints from his collection:

Shrove Beach, Co. Donegal.

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Mourne Mountains, Co. Down.

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Fanad lighthouse, Co.Donegal.

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Belfast City (a view from Cavehill), Co. Antrim.

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There is no question about it – his photography is simply stunning, showcasing some of the most beautiful landscapes that Ireland has to offer the world. Ian uses the latest 3D technology to print his shots and then frames or mounts them on wood, creating the perfect focal point for any room.

You can view 54 Degrees North’s work up close and speak to the artist himself most weekends at St. George’s Market, or visit www.54degreesnorth.net for a browse through his extensive collection of captured landscapes. A price list for prints is also conveniently included online. Alternatively, stay updated with his work via Facebook and Twitter using these links 🙂

Having just moved into a new place, owning one of these local prints has soared straight to the top of my wish list… the only question now is which one!? Arghh… decisions!

Happy Browsing, K.

 

Something for the Weekend: St. George’s Market, Belfast

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Let’s face it, nothing beats a good weekend market. Whether you’re looking for good food, live music, exquisite local arts and crafts, or all of the above, you’ll find it at St. George’s Market. Built in 1890, it is one of Belfast’s oldest and most popular attractions.

There’s nothing I enjoy more on a Sunday morning than immersing myself in the hustle and bustle  of the market stalls perusing through old vinyls or bric-a-brac, and deliberating over which of the various food vendors to visit for breakfast. From paella to pastries, the choices are vast, but when you’re in Belfast, sometimes there’s nothing to quite beat a local favourite…

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Well, they do say breakfast should set you up for the rest of the day…

I’m a typical magpie when it comes to jewellery (the shinier the better) and so I swooped in on Ainduna Sea Glass without a moment’s hesitation. But really girls, can you blame me? Take a look and see for yourself…

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Anne sources her sea glass from the Northern Irish coastline, which has been washed up and tumbled smooth by the ocean tide. She then uses wire and beads to fashion the glass into all kinds of one-of-a-kind jewellery and crafts. I love the bright colours of Ainduna Sea Glass, but it is the uniqueness and natural simplicity of her pieces which are the real selling point, in my opinion. The perfect gift to buy for friends and family (and then keep for yourself, obviously).

To art next, and a few stalls further along I stumbled upon local artist Stephen McLean, who is a regular seller at the weekend market. The majority of Stephen’s paintings depict the beautiful scenery from around Northern Ireland, from shipyards to coastlines. Stephen and his partner, Emma, are the owners of Top Floor Art, a small gallery in Saintfield, Co. Down dedicated to the promotion of local arts and crafts. Both artists are also happy to work on commission, when requested.

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This watercolour of the SS Nomadic in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter was my favourite item of the day. I love the rawness of his work and for me, this little sketch really shows off his remarkable skill and passion for what he does. My parents are also great fans of Stephen’s work and own a few of his larger paintings, so luckily I to get to admire his work on a regular basis. If you’re heading to the market this weekend, this stall is definitely worth a visit.

St. George’s Market is one of Belfast’s hidden gems and promises a fantastic atmosphere to awaken those groggy Sunday morning senses. And for those of you who think I’m a little biased, don’t just take my word for it – it was recently voted the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

Personally speaking, Sundays are my favourite time to visit in order to check out the local arts and crafts, but Friday and Saturday mornings are equally as popular amongst locals and visitors for fresh local produce and a friendly buzz.

You can find out more about St. George’s Market here or follow @StGeorgesBT1 for regular updates.

Have you visited St. George’s yet, or do you have an equivalent in your town/city? I’m always keen to discover new places, so feel free to leave me some suggestions 🙂

Lots of Love, K.