Events 2015

Unself-ish by Belinda Larmour


Friday 30th October to Friday 4th December 2015

Unself-ish is a series of small square portraits, portrayed in natural light with earthy tones. The antithesis of contemporary ‘selfies’, Belinda Larmour’s work reclaims the traditional artform of thoughtful painted portraits. She wonders if it is possible to capture something of the essence of those portrayed.
“I have always been fascinated by people’s faces - by the subtle differences in shapes and tones, colours and textures, which allow us to feel that we understand something of the character of this person in front of us.”
Alongside her work as a professional musician and teacher, for the past few years Belinda Larmour has increasingly been focused on painting. Considering the links between painting and music she says that both visual art and music involve shape, colour, texture, line, repetition, contrast, structure, and technique - and allow the brain to operate in a non-verbal way. She combines self-originated painting with a growing number of portrait commissions, working mainly in acrylics.
“I have been painting portraits since I was at school.  As an adult, I received a diagnosis of ASD and I find it interesting that one of the well-known things that people with ASD can struggle with is reading other people’s faces and expressions. It seems odd then that I am particularly drawn to paint portraits. Or is it that I am able to paint portraits because I see faces as a pattern of shapes and colours rather than as a personality?”
Belinda is a past winner of the Percy French Watercolour Competition and has exhibited with the Royal Ulster Academy and the Arts Society of Ulster – winning the ASU Perpetual Trophy in 2014. Last year she held her first solo exhibition at the Flax Gallery in Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey.
In 2013 Belinda was awarded a grant from the ADF’s Arts Council funded grant scheme to support individual disabled/deaf artists. This supported her to work on a composition for string quartet, again challenging assumptions connected with the ASD diagnosis, which can imply lack of imagination and creativity.
Unself-ish is on view at the Arts & Disability Forum, on the wheelchair-accessible Ground Floor of Cathedral Quarter Workspaces, at 109-113 Royal Avenue in Belfast (Belfast Telegraph end, opposite the Mace shop). The exhibition will be open to the public from 30th October until Friday, 4th December.

Bounce! arts festival weekender 2015


This year's Bounce! Arts Festival Weekender is now over, having ended with the exquisite 'Dancer' performance, which had the whole audience up and dancing. We sent people away wearing big smiles. At the Big Warm Wrap party later that night, people still wanted to dance.

Thanks to everyone who contributed - artists, staff and board member, freelances, sessional workers, volunteers, venues and funders. You made it what it was!

The ADF is now in the after Bounce! recovery position. We will mostly be closed this week and then back to our usual hours next week, from 15th September - Tuesday to Friday 11am to 3pm. '11 Million Reasons' will continue into October.

Visit our Tumblr website for more Bounce! info

For more about Bounce! click here

Quiver by Elvin Simpson


Friday 31st July to Friday 28 August 2015

gallery opening hours:  Tuesday to Friday, 11am-3pm

admission free; gallery accessible
arrange group visits in advance please
let us know in advance if you want us to book BSL or audio description

Launch:  Thursday 30th July, 5-7pm

Artist’s Conversation:  Thursday 6th August, 1pm

Elvin Simpson’s work is an exploration of the interactions between himself, others, the built environment and the natural world, and is deeply rooted in symbolism, psychology and therapeutic interaction. Through use of symbols and colour the work expresses an internal psychological and/or emotional condition. The artworks are built up of layers cut to create a latticework of patterned symbols through which we see another layer, another layer behind that, and so on.

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Summerhall TV
We were so pleased that Summerhall TV popped over from Scotland recently - and even more pleased when they sent these two short news videos, one about the ADF generally and one about Paul Moore's show, which will be open until 19th June.

Video about ADF

Video of Paul Moore

Article about Lorem Ipsum on Culture HUB

Let Me Stay

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Living with dementia? You're having a laugh!
Vital Xposure and the Arts & Disability Forum present writer/performer Julie McNamara's performance, 'Let Me Stay', at Down Arts Centre on 20th June at 8pm.
‘I have watched my Mother drifting away from me’, says Julie. ‘But I have to acknowledge the sorrow is mine. She is quite happy. Quite honestly Shirley’s having the time of her life!’
The play unpicks Julie’s efforts to keep her mum close and continue to know her through her changing persona. You'll laugh a lot but you might also find a tear or two slipping down your face.
This performance will be the last time 'Let Me Stay' is seen. It will have captions, BSL interpretation and audio description. Book tickets by phone 028 4461 0747, email, or call into Down Arts Centre.
Photos by Kay Fi’ain and Andrea Abril.

watch a short, edited promo for Let Me Stay

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Disabled Artists Scoop Arts Funding Awards

Nine disabled artists from Northern Ireland have been announced as recipients of the iDA (Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists) scheme, a dedicated arts funding stream which allows them to develop their professional artistic careers.

Managed by the Arts & Disability Forum (ADF), awards under the iDA scheme have been made annually to deaf and disabled artists working in a range of artforms.

The bursaries, which are supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will allow each artist to produce new creative work or receive professional mentoring. The 2015 artists include 5 visual artists, 2 dance artists and 2 musicians. The artists have impairments ranging from physical disability, visual impairment, mental ill health and learning difficulty.

Chris Ledger, Chief Executive, Arts and Disability Forum, commented; “Disabled and deaf people can have fruitful and successful careers in the arts and the grant scheme recognises this and supports artists to develop work of extremely high artistic merit. The scheme is open to artists in all artforms and with all types of disability including unseen conditions such as diabetes, dyslexia, epilepsy and mental health conditions.”

Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “Congratulations to the new recipients of the iDA scheme. These grants are given in recognition of the artists’ work to date and to provide them with the necessary support to take their careers to the next level. The Arts Council is pleased to support this important programme, which encourages the production of new work and addresses the need for disabled and deaf artists to have on-going training and skills development within the sector.”

Through the ADF’s support, disabled artists have developed unique artwork of extremely high artistic quality, some progressing to a level where they have received international recognition. The iDA scheme’s purpose is to identify, encourage and nurture individual talent amongst disabled practitioners. This is the last scheme to be managed by the ADF as for 2015-16 the fund will transfer to Arts Council management.


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Left to right: Catherine Hatt, Ursula Burke, Paul Moore, Chris Ledger (CEO of Arts & Disability Forum), Sinead O'Donnell, Jim McClean

Nine disabled artists from Northern Ireland have been announced by the Arts and Disability Forum as recipients of the iDA Scheme (Individual Disabled Artists).  The bursaries, which are funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will allow each artist to produce new creative work or receive professional mentoring to further develop their artistic careers.  The 2015 artists include five visual artists, two dance artists and two musicians.


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Pictured are iDA recipients singer-songwriter, Catherine Hatt, Visual Artist, Paul Moore and singer-songwriter Jim McClean.  For information on funding for artists visit

Media contact: Angela Warren, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, / t:02890385226


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Helen Hall has been learning choreography with Mark Brew in Scotland


iDA Artist Biographies

Visual Arts

1. Ursula Burke
Irish artist Ursula Burke works in a variety of media including sculpture, photography and porcelain. Representation and identity within post-conflict Northern Ireland is the main imperative of her work. She was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland British School at Rome Fellowship in 2014. She is an artist member of Outland Arts, and represented by the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast. The grant allows for the production of new and challenging work. It will support the development of Ursula's current practice and future projects and enable her to gain further technical skills through commissioning expert technical assistance.

2. Paul Moore
Paul Moore is a visual artist based in Belfast and has been interested in technology and art from an early age. His work represents inward struggles that arise from fragmented understanding of language, information. Recent work is to create a multimedia environment to deconstruct issues that he faces with Dyslexia. The iDA grant will help Paul purchase equipment to produce his first solo show at the ADF Gallery in Belfast and enable him to further his artistic career through further exhibitions and developing new work.

3. Sinead O’Donnell
Sinead O’Donnell is an Irish artist living in Belfast. The cultural situation in Northern Ireland has intensified Sinead's awareness of differences between people. Her performance work takes in many countries and cultures around the world, observing women reacting differently to situations we all share. In many cultures, political or religious issues dictate women’s behaviour. Sinead’s arts practice investigates how her observations and experiences affect her personally, as an artist identifying as disabled. Sinead's work plan for 2015-2016 is called ‘erasing Her history’ and has several strands taking place in different parts of the world, including Thailand, Poland, Germany, Northern Ireland and Finland.

4. Jayne Cherry
Jayne Cherry has a lifelong connection with the arts and an affinity for the natural world and all those residing in it. Her view is that all nature is beautiful even when dead and everyone has a right to life, even if their appearance or abilities prevent them from becoming what the world views as acceptable. Jayne will use this grant to attend two courses on Taxidermy and will buy pelts, skins, chemicals and paints to allow her to make the forms. She will use photoshop and other techniques to provide photographic evidence of the species she works on, developing her skills as an artist and storyteller.

5. Ruth McCarthy (Film and TV)
Ruth McCarthy's artistic background is primarily in making DIY zines, cartooning and film-making, using art as a counter-cultural tool to challenge the mainstream, particularly around queer identity. Her work is influenced by the cut-and-paste and absurdist techniques of the Dadaists, comic books, the punk zines of the 70s. As Artistic Director of the Outburst festival in Belfast, most of Ruth's creative energy goes into creating space for other artists and performers to present work. The iDA grant will enable Ruth to take time out from her day job to concentrate on creating a new piece of work of her own.

6. Jim McClean
Jim McClean is a singer songwriter/musician who has been writing and performing his own songs for around ten years on the Belfast music scene, including a number of local festivals and charity gigs. He also self publishes his work and his CD ‘Cosmic Nomad’ is available in local outlets and online. Jim’s grant will support him to avail of one-to-one mentoring, helping him to develop as an artist, gig further afield and raise his profile as an artist. He will learn new technical skills, learn more about the business and gain new knowledge

7. Catherine Hatt
Singer-songwriter, Catherine Hatt recorded her first album 'sweetcorn' by herself at home and ended up on the radio. She went on to write songs for children's theatre companies and perform extensively around Ireland until a breakdown put a stop to everything. A bipolar diagnosis knocked her confidence and she became wary of her creativity. The ADF helped her record a nine song story 'lost and found' with four musicians, turning the bump in road into a learning curve. The iDA award will support Catherine to develop live performances of 'lost and found' in 2015, with musicians on cello, violin, harp and double bass.

8. Barry Goan
Barry Goan has been dancing and entertaining since he was 10 years old and has been involved in the arts for the past 25 years with a particular passion for dance. Barry is a member of the Skysdalimit Musical Theatre Company, a cross-community performing arts group made up of disabled people and non-disabled peers and he has performed widely in this context. The grant will enable Barry to fulfil his desire to hone his dance skills further via one-to-one contemporary dance classes with David Nurse from Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre, exploring contemporary dance technique and choreographic ideas. Barry is interested in exploring themes about breaking down barriers. This includes barriers in real life like the Peace Wall and the Berlin Wall and also barriers to people accessing services but also barriers in people’s minds that cause division.

9. Helen Hall
Helen Hall has many years of dance experience but her current focus is on enhancing her choreographic experience. Recent choreographies include 'Conversations', for Luminous Soul inclusive dance group, which opened City Dance 2015 and 'Contemporary Fusion', a duet exploring contemporary and Brazilian dance styles, also performed at City Dance. The iDA grant is enabling Helen to shadow Marc Brew while he choreographs a new work, 'Exalt', a collaboration between Scottish Ballet and Independance. The grant will also allow Helen to undergo one-on-one mentoring with Marc to support choreographic explorations.

About iDA
The iDA scheme is a dedicated grant system for individual disabled artists, managed by the Arts & Disability Forum on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The ADF has managed grant schemes for disabled/deaf artists for around 15 years now, including the Arts & Disability Awards Ireland scheme, which operated on a cross-border basis and won a cross-border co-operation award. Through the ADF’s support, disabled and deaf artists have developed unique artwork of extremely high artistic quality, some progressing to a level where international recognition is won. The funding’s purpose is to identify, encourage and nurture individual talent amongst disabled and deaf practitioners. It is open to disabled/deaf artists living in Northern Ireland. Artists can apply for up to £5,000.

A is for Activism

A for activism

The Arts & Disability Forum presents:

A is for Activism

an exhibition of campaign imagery from Brian Hilton
at the ADF Gallery, Royal Avenue, Belfast

Launch: Friday 13th March, 5-7pm

The ADF's launch for 'A is for Activism' was serendipitously timed for Northern Ireland's day of action and, despite the public transport strike, the launch drew people out to share a glass in this exhibition of disability campaign imagery. The exhibition shows the power of the arts to create social change - and highlights disabled people's perspective on Welfare Reform. NI's politicians are closer to disability issues than the English MPs - this is about what has happened in England and is a timely reminder of what could happen in NI.
Drawing on a long tradition of photomontage, from John Heartfield to Peter Kennard, 'A is for Activism' by Brian Hilton focusses on use of the arts as a tool to create socially motivated campaign images.This show reflects a year of campaigning on disability issues and represents the voice of the disability movement in England, where Welfare Reform has had a devastating effect. The pieces shown highlight concerns about tortuous assessment processes for benefits, the need for support to live rather than assistance to die, and the end of the Independent Living Fund.
Artist Brian Hilton says: “Services and benefits are being slashed or scrapped, whilst assisted suicide legislation creeps ever closer to becoming a reality. As a disabled person with high support needs, support like the ILF enables me and other disabled people to live with choice and dignity in the community rather than locked away in a nursing home. I am not an artist, and I am unsure whether these images constitute art. However, I have design skills, imagination, the resourcefulness of a magpie and a passion for a campaign that I care deeply about. The images in this exhibition are just small elements of a wider grassroots response to what is happening.”
Chris Ledger, CEO of the Arts & Disability Forum says: “Whether it's art or not – and personally I’d say yes, it is - the images in this exhibition have successfully drawn attention to the cause of disabled and deaf people and we are proud to present them. Sometimes only the arts can communicate the big messages! This show is particularly relevant at a time when the ADF's membership and audiences are fearful of the changes to come as Northern Ireland takes on Welfare Reform.”
The exhibition is on view at the Arts & Disability Forum, on the wheelchair-accessible Ground Floor of Cathedral Quarter Workspaces, at 109-113 Royal Avenue in Belfast(Belfast Telegraph end, opposite the Mace shop). The gallery is open to the public from 18th March until 23 Aprilfrom 11am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday. BSL and audio description are available provided visitors make requests in advance.

1 About Brian Hilton
The images are one aspect of wider campaigning to challenge the cruellest of cuts currently facing disabled people. The images were created to promote the campaign online, primarily through Facebook and Twitter but have also been used in the real world when disabled people have gathered together at protests.
Brian Hilton says: “Although I created the images, I could not have done so without the support, guidance, ideas and encouragement from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Inclusion London, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), Not Dead Yet UK, my partner, my friends and family.
2 About Photomontage
Photomontage is often used as a means of expressing political dissent.
It was first used as a technique by the dadaists in 1915 in their protests against the First World War. It was later adopted by the surrealists, who exploited the possibilities photomontage offered by using free association to bring together widely disparate images, to reflect the workings of the unconscious mind.
In 1923 the Russian constructivist Aleksander Rodchenko began experimenting with photomontage as a way of creating striking socially engaged imagery concerned with the placement and movement of objects in space.
Other key exponents of the medium are John Heartfield, the German artist who reconstructed images from the media to protest against Germany’s Fascist regime and Peter Kennard; whose photomontages explored issues such as economic inequality, police brutality and the nuclear arms race between the 1970s and the 1990s.
3 About the Arts & Disability Forum
The Arts & Disability Forum is a disabled-led development company supporting disabled and deaf people’s involvement in the arts, with a particular role in promoting the work of artists who are disabled and deaf and reaching disabled and deaf audiences. Membership of the ADF is free to disabled/deaf individuals.
Working with all artforms and all impairments, the charity delivers a year-round programme of exhibitions and events:
·  Bounce! Arts Festival and the ADF Gallery, showcasing work by skilled disabled and deaf artists;
·  the iDA grant scheme enabling disabled and deaf artists who are on a career path to gain new skills and produce new work;
·  the Arts & Disability Equality Charter, which motivates and supports venues to improve disability accessibility; and
·  EU and UK partnership projects that bring new experiences to Northern Ireland and win acclaim for the quality of Northern Ireland based artists’ work.
A small organisation with just four staff, the ADF is involved in a wide range of NI-based partnership work, including Arts Matter NI, the sector group advocating for the value of the arts and campaigning to protect arts funding.
The company’s lead funders are the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council, with additional project support from a range of other funders and additional core funding from the Lloyds Foundation.
The ADF Gallery is on the Ground Floor of Cathedral Quarter Workspaces, at the Belfast Telegraph end of Royal Avenue (opposite the Mace shop/Central Library). The gallery is dedicated to showing work by disabled and deaf artists throughout the year.

Who's Been Framed

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Allow yourself to be drawn into the atmosphere and suspense of a night in the 1920s …

Who’s been Framed? is a unique collection of photographs shot in the Culloden Hotel, featuring members of the Skyway Club as suspects in a murder mystery and taking inspiration from classic crime flicks like Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, as well as the much loved board game Cluedo.

The Skyway Club is a vibrant and creative group of adults with learning disabilities, based at Ballynafeigh Community House in Belfast. Their interest in photography was sparked by participation in classes led by local photographer, Carrie Davenport. Carrie then worked with the group to stage, shoot and produce the images.

On Wednesday 18th February, beginning at 1pm, the Skyway Club will run a workshop exploring the story of the exhibition. The workshop is suitable for people with learning difficulties but it is open to anyone who wants take part. You must book in advance by contacting Leo Devlin at the ADF - or 028 9023 9450.

BSL interpretation and audio description can be made available for the workshop. Please book this support in advance by contacting Leo as above. When you have booked communication support, if you then change your mind about attending, it's important to let us know!

The exhibition is open to the public until 5th March from 11am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday.

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The panel has now met and letters revealing panel decisions will be out to applicants by 2nd March. We hope there will be another grant round for the year 2015-16 but this is unconfirmed. Sample forms etc are downloadable below for information only - please note that all grant paperwork is reviewed yearly.

iDA Application form

iDA Criteria and FAQs

iDA Guidelines

iDA Monitoring form

EU Project news

The GUIA EU project, which we ran in partnership with organisations based in Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Turkey, Belgium, Germany and England, has now ended. The project achieved all its targets and was selected as an example of European good practice.

We are now developing a new project, continuing with some of the previous partners and adding new ones

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Nikki McLaughlin from KIC presented Nikki's Story in Zagreb as part of the GUIA project. GUIA was run by the ADF with partners from Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Romania and England.


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Arts & Disability Forum
Ground Floor
Cathedral Quarter Workspaces
109-113 Royal Avenue

Tel within UK:
(028) 9023 9450

Tel from RoI:
(048) 9023 9450

(028) 9024 7770



Tuesday - Friday:
11am – 3pm

The above are our core hours but we are often working away behind the scenes at other times. If the gallery lights are on just ring the bell and we’ll let you in.