Continuing Communities

The 'significant contribution' made by artists to life in Belfast celebrated at Queen's University with new series of courses

Works by some of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated writers, musicians and visual artists will be placed under the spotlight this September as three new courses celebrate the significant contribution the arts have made to life in Belfast, both past and present.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has pledged funding to support Continuing Cities, a new series of courses within the 2012 Queen’s University’s Open Learning Programme.

The workshops build on the success of the recent One City One Book Belfast 2012 initiative, which asked the public to read the same book this summer (Glenn Patterson’s The Mill for Grinding Old People Young) as part of a campaign to promote reading and the city’s rich literary practice.

Each course will be presented by a series of guest speakers, including Glenn Patterson, Malachi O’Doherty (above right), Stuart Bailie and Rita Duffy, and are open to all adults, regardless of qualifications or experience.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, said: 'Northern Ireland people are modest by nature, but it’s high time we celebrated the great artists, past and present that Belfast has produced. Continuing Cities will open up the arts for discussion and reflect on how some of our best-known and respected artists have responded to Belfast down through the decades.'

The literature element of the course will look at Belfast through the eyes of a wide range of writers. Starting in the first half of the 20th century it will begin by considering works by the likes of Louis MacNeice and Sam Hanna Bell, through to the outstanding achievement of esteemed poets like Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley, before turning attention to the work of the new generation of writers coming through.

Music lovers can expect to find out more about the extraordinary range of work that’s come out of the city, from classical greats such as James Galway and Barry Douglas to folk virtuosos including Sean Maguire and Derek Bell, and rock legends like Van Morrison and Snow Patrol.

Finally, the visual arts workshops will examine how the city has been represented through a range of media by artists, both past and present, from architects like Charles Lanyon, to painters like Neil Shawcross and sculptors such as Philip Flanagan.

Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow and Coordinator of the Open Learning Programme, commented: 'We are most grateful to the Arts Council for their support. In such a special year for Belfast, we are delighted to be able to host this series and celebrate the rich artistic heritage of Belfast with its citizens.'

For more information or to register for a course online visit the Queen's University Open Learning website.