Paint The Town Red with Late Night Art

Art Galleries replace shopping as the new Thursday night past-time for culture vultures in the city

Anne-Marie's Adventures: Mission: To get arty in the city on a Thursday night 

Last night (Thursday October 2) saw the first Late Night Art walking tour of selected art galleries and the Merchant Hotel in the centre of Belfast. The howling wind and pouring rain subsided, providing a clear evening to wander around the city’s arty Cathedral Quarter. 

The meeting point was Belfast Exposed gallery where the director, Pauline Hadaway, gave a talk about their latest exhibition, The Last Things by English photographer David Moore. A healthy turnout of around 40 to 50 art enthusiasts filled the venue.

Then it was off to the newly opened Red Barn Gallery with tour guide Susan McKeever, an artist herself. Red Barn founders Frankie Quinn and Gary Hewitt discussed their work as tourists viewed the photography that adorned the walls, some modern, some historical, all good.

Modern colourful photographs of the Waterfront area of Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway mix seamlessly with images of peace lines and murals. Amongst the work were striking black and white photographs from the late John White, capturing 1960s Belfast at the beginning of the Troubles.

When we arrive at the five star Merchant Hotel, we're treated to a tour of beautiful artwork in a grandiose setting. The party is greeted by the delightful William Magee, head concierge, who talks about the art, the décor and the hotel itself, now famous for being home to the most expensive cocktail in the world at £750 a glass! Look it up in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Among the luxurious suites in the Merchant, several are named after well known Northern Irish literary personalities including, CS Lewis, Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice and Brian Friel. We're told that, on showing Heaney to the suite named after him, the poet told the concierge 'You work in the temple of progress'.

A beautiful painting of screen legend Audrey Hepburn hangs on the wall, but at £9,995 it’s a bit out of budget! We get a brief tour of this up-market venue, taking in the sparkling chandeliers, the stylish grand piano and the expensive cocktail bar, then it’s across the street to the Belfast Print Workshop Gallery.

Another talk ensues - time to view more art and an elevator trip up to the studio where the artists work. 

Next stop, Golden Thread Art Gallery. This is a large, spacious venue and a launch is taking place with Declan McGonagle, curator of their latest exhibition, A Shout in the Street. Paintings, murals, video footage and a reconstructed bonfire form part of the collection.

This is the last art gallery on our tour before heading to 2Taps where the Sangria flows freely and the tour wraps up. Incidentally, there’s some great art on the walls here too. Everyone’s in jovial form and looking forward to the next gallery tour.

With wine at every stop, some great artwork, interesting speakers and a wonderful tour guide at the helm with a bubbly personality and a wealth of knowledge, we can't help but enjoy ourselves. Who needs late night shopping when you’ve got Late Night Art?

Anne-Marie Marquess