Belfast Open Studios 2015

Step inside the creative workspaces of Belfast's visual arts community and witness first-hand the talents behind the exhibitions, showcases and installations

[Above: Rob Hilken, VAI [Northern Ireland], Suzanne Lyle, Arts Council NI and Annie Irwin, Suki Tea join artist Lisa Ballard at Cathedral Arts Studio to launch Belfast Open Studio 2015 weekend]

Over 200 artists across 15 studios will open their doors to the public on October 23 and 24 as part of Belfast Open Studios 2015. The event, in its second year, provides an opportunity for the public to see art being made, and meet with the artists who make Belfast an internationally recognised centre for visual arts.

Belfast Open Studios 2015, supported by Arts & Business NI, and Suki Tea will incorporate the first Suki Tea Arts Prize. Five finalists have been shortlisted from over 200 entries across Ireland for the prize, totalling £3,000.

Alongside the studios opening and the Suki Tea Arts Prize, Belfast will host a number of influential global curators from around Europe who are visiting to meet with the artists and studios.

The curators are particularly interested in bringing the art of Belfast back for exhibition in their respective countries. Belfast Open Studios enables artists to showcase their talent and works on a global scale with some of the art destined for studios, galleries and art centres nationally and internationally.

Chief Executive of Visual Artists Ireland [Northern Ireland] Noel Kelly said: 'Belfast Open Studios 2015 will bring the talent, passion and vision of so many local artists to the public to enjoy, and, I hope, inspire. Behind so many doors across the city, in nooks and crannies, flow the creative juices of a host of artists working across many creative platforms.

'Belfast Open Studios 2015 is about sharing these talents; paintings, drawings, objects, films and other media, and celebrating our fabulous talent. Curators from across the world will be here to meet the artists and seek to bring their art to a global audience.

'Many studios are also holding events for the public to engage in art during the event, and we will be celebrating the Suki Tea Arts award winner, so there are a host of art studios, activities and reasons to engage.'

Oscar Wooley from arts prize sponsor Suki Tea, said: 'We are thrilled to support the first Suki Tea Arts Award, celebrating artists across Ireland. An overwhelming number of submissions were received, and the winner will be announced on October 22.

'In addition Suki Tea is providing tea for all galleries during Belfast Open Studios weekend, so visitors can take in the studios and the art with some local infused tea.'

Mary Nagele, Chief Executive, Arts & Business NI added: 'This collaboration between Visual Artists Ireland and Suki Tea is the perfect fit for both organisations. Suki Tea and their support of artistic activities in Ireland with the Suki Tea Arts Prize extends an incredible opportunity for artists both professionally and financially. The number of submissions for the Suki Tea Arts Prize certainly is a testament to the success of the partnership.'

The winner of the first Suki Tea Arts Prize will be announced at a reception in the Long Gallery, Stormont on Thursday, 22 October, on the eve of Belfast Open Studios 2015 weekend.

Belfast Open Studios is hosting a series of free artist talks as part of the Embrace free programme of participatory and creative learning activities within the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival.

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: 'The Arts Council is pleased to support Belfast Open Studios as part of this year's Belfast International Arts Festival. People who are curious will have the rare chance to see artists at work, ask questions and see what happens in buildings that are part of their neighbourhood. 'It's a great opportunity and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.'

Details of all participating galleries and events over Belfast Open Studios 2015 can be found at www.belfastopenstudios.com.