Empty House – Christine Kernohan

Empty House – Solo exhibition by Christine Kernohan

4 June – 24 July 2024

University of Atypical are pleased to invite you to the opening of our 2023 Ulster University Graduation Awardee Solo Exhibition. The exhibition launch will take place for Late Night Art Belfast on Thursday 6 June, 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Christine will give a short artist talk at 7:00 pm which will be accompanied by British Sign Language interpretation.

Christine Kernohan received the 2023 University of Atypical Graduate Award. She is an Irish artist working in mixed media with a focus on textiles. She works with a direct method of weaving. This means that she constructs her own weaving loom and weaves the textile by hand. She also uses circular looms to explore repeating forms and spirals within the body.

Kernohan’s inspiration comes from the relationship between the mother and the child. She creates weaves that are intended to be wall tapestries or wall hangings, that could be draped around the mother-like figure to suggest a motherly protection or the protection of modesty for the child. Kernohan also works on the subject of generational trauma: trauma passed on through the womb across generations. She sees textiles as a way to create a safe environment for herself and others, as she uses her practice to work through her own personal trauma. She sees textiles and other art practices as a beneficial way for individuals to work through their distress. Christine graduated from the Belfast School of Art in 2021 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She received a Master’s Degree in Fine Art in 2023.

Catharsis – Scott Ramsey

About this exhibition:

‘The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from strong or repressed emotions’
University of Atypical are pleased to host an exhibition of work by artist Scott Ramsey as part of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival 2024. The exhibition, entitled ‘Catharsis’, features an eclectic series of Scott Ramsey’s unique boxed assemblages which the curator Noelle McAlinden has described as intricate, precious, complex, ethereal, infinite in meaning and genius in their consideration.

About the Artist:

Scott, in conversation with Noelle McAlinden describes the development of the boxes as a changing process. Sometimes the process starts with an object, then another object that has a relation to the first, sometimes it starts backwards with a ‘kind of wallpaper’. Some of the objects in the boxes are collected items, some are donated. He says it is the boxes that create the sense of order. He is inspired by the artists Hieronymus Bosch, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali, and Scott describes the works as mini stage sets.
Scott, who lives and works in Fermanagh, is not just a visual artist. He is also an accomplished singer, songwriter, and musician. He has exhibited extensively locally and internationally including at the Royal Ulster Academy. Scott, who is a past pupil of Toni Johnston, has always been curious and highly imaginative with an eye for seeing the precious potential for the extraordinary in ordinary things.

About the curator:

Noelle McAlinden, chair of Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival and curator of this touring exhibition at Strule Art Gallery, Omagh. ‘It is a privilege to be curating and supporting Scott to bring his stunning work to new audiences to enjoy as part of this year’s Mental Health Arts Festival.’

The Drawing Rooms

Exhibition run: Thursday 21 March – Thursday 9 May 2024
Artist Talk – Friday 26 March 2024 1– 2pm

Access: BSL Interpreter booked for artist talk on Friday 26 March.
To request other access requirements email

‘A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained, and an alternative name for a living room.’
During the global pandemic of 2020 and 2021, all of our homes became more solitary spaces. The visits to care settings to those we loved were restricted. This project imagined the drawing rooms project to inspire new activity where other activity had been disrupted.

Working with staff and residents from Culling Tree Meadows, Arches Care Home and the NOW Group Club, artists David Dunlop and Paul Moore trained participants to create digital drawings. Artworks created have been printed and exhibited here in this bright and experimental exhibition.
Drawings will be delivered back to the original Drawing Rooms in which they were created to be displayed on the walls of the homes from which they came.

This Project was funded by Belfast City Council through the Department For Communities Access and Inclusion Capital Programme 2020/2021.

The University of Atypical’s principal funder is the @National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

NOCTURNES Documentation

NOCTURNES – Joel Simon 

Belfast, November 22, 2023 – The University of Atypical is delighted to announce the unveiling of “NOCTURNES,” an extraordinary exhibition by acclaimed artist Joel Simon. The showcase opens to the public on Friday, December 1st, with a formal exhibition opening as part of the late-night art on Thursday, December 7th, at 6:00 pm. This captivating exhibition is a highlight of the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities program, co-coordinated by the Department for Communities and University of Atypical.

Disabled Artists International Residency Project

New project creates international opportunities for disabled artists

Two leading artists from Northern Ireland and Germany are participating in an exciting new exchange project aimed at creating accessible international opportunities for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists.

The Disabled Artists International Residency Project, co-ordinated by the Belfast-based University of Atypical, is a response to the feeling of exclusion experienced by d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists when applying for or participating in international residencies.

Northern Ireland artist Husk Bennet will begin a residency at the queer art collective Coven in Berlin, while Flax Arts Studios in Belfast will host the German artist Chris Yohei Tokunaga in February 2024.

The project aims to develop a best practice model for international residencies for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists, which will go on to be shared with other arts organisations.

Damien Coyle from the disabled-led arts charity University of Atypical said: “This is a unique and important project that explores the barriers that d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists encounter when participating in residences, and the model of best practice will provide arts organisations with an easy-to-use template they can follow to make residencies more accessible.”

This initiative is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and research and development involved the Belfast and Berlin partners along with the Video Club and Vital Capacities from Brighton.

Patrica Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pleased to support this vital initiative which aims to identify and remove the barriers that exist for d/Deaf, disabled, and Neurodiverse artists when applying for career-enhancing international residencies. Our support for this initiative demonstrates the Arts Council’s continuing commitment to making the arts accessible to all, and we wish both artists taking part in the exchange every success.”

The two artists will exchange cities during February. Chris Yohei Tokunaga is a Berlin based Kyoto born electronic music producer and singer/songwriter. Living with visual hallucinations since the age of 19, music was his constant companion. He considers it important to be open about his own mental health as he hopes to connect with and motivate other people with disabilities.

Husk Bennett is a visual artist from Belfast who studied Fine Art & Art History at Manchester School of Art. Husk has exhibited extensively across the UK and Ireland including ‘The Gallery S1’ with Artichoke Trust, Short Supply’s ‘Queer Contemporaries’ in AIR Gallery, Manchester, ‘URGENCIES (2023)’ in CCA, Derry and Catalyst Arts’ FIX ‘21, Belfast.

Alongside this, he has taken part in The MAC’s Hatch & Scratch scheme from 2021-22, was on the committee for the Flax Arts Project Space and is currently supported by Belfast City Council.

I AM? Exhibition

I Am? – Exhibition

Taking the theme of ‘I Am’ as a starting point or catalyst, the exhibition showcases a range of artworks representing each of the artists’ interpretation of I am, I wonder, I see, I want, I pretend, I cry, I feel, I worry, I say, I try, I hope and I dream using a range of mixed media and materials from drawings to paintings and art works with 3-dimensional elements.

One of the core themes of the exhibition is for the artists to represent themselves and their work in a neutral space rather than being pre-deterrmined or predefined by disability or other preconceptions.

Brain Injury Matters (NI) was established in 2013 as an independent regional third sector organisation supporting, promoting and empowering those individuals and families affected by acquired brain injury.
The Arts
The Arts service provides the opportunity for people to explore their creative potential through participant-led projects in our Studio Space with professional artists.
The projects range from visual arts, photography, film, creative writing, poetry, animation, drama, physical theatre, creative gardening as well as combined media. These are published, exhibited or showcased at exhibitions, events and festivals throughout Northern Ireland and beyond.
This is so that people can develop and utilise their creative and artistic potential for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society (UNCRPD, 2006).

Curator – Ciara O’Malley, Creative Arts Manager in the Adult Arts Programme at Brain Injury Matters since November 2019.
Ciara’s role is to give everyone who attends the adult programme the opportunity to explore and develop their potential creatively, as artists, writers, and as performers through the arts and to showcase the work created on the same level and footing as others operating in the public art arena. She organises exhibitions, performances and events in Northern Ireland and beyond utilising local networks and a full range of publicity and media to advertise the events.
She is a practising visual artist creating socially engaged public art works and a member of the Vault Studios, Belfast. She has initiated, facilitated, managed and curated a range of art projects and public exhibitions for many years which she brings to her role as Creative Arts Manager in Brain Injury Matters.
Statement: “The I Am? Exhibition also represents an important stage in the continuing journey of emerging artists in Northern Ireland”.

Curator – Daniela Balmaverde, Italian artist living and working in Belfast.
Daniela graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Turin with a BA (First Class) in Stage Design in 2003. Her love for art has not stopped since.
In the past 20 years, she has been working on various projects of public art, film settings, portraits and sculptures for the public and private sectors.
Curiosity and a constant desire to push the boundaries bring her to experiment and explore materials and subjects. She is constantly attracted to confront the endless challenges that the painting process brings.
Statement: “The curated collection presents a diverse range of artworks that not only captivate the eye but also engage the viewer’s spatial perception. The inclusion of 3D elements introduces a dynamic dimension, allowing the audience to interact with the pieces on a multi-sensorial level.
This exhibition aims to highlight the transformative power of art as a therapeutic outlet, showcasing a diverse array of works that speak to the resilience of the human spirit. Each piece becomes a testament to the artists’ ability to navigate challenges, using their creativity as a means of healing and self-discovery.
This curated collection becomes not only a celebration of artistic talent but also a platform for raising awareness about the profound impact of brain injuries on individuals’ lives and their remarkable journey towards artistic expression.”

Exhibition opening: Thursday 1st February, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Artists’ speeches will feature British Sign Language interpretation.

The exhibition runs until 15th March 2024.
Gallery opening hours are 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday to Friday.

Curator’s and Artists’ Talk: Friday 23rd February 2024, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, in partnership with The North Belfast Festival.
Join us then for a tour of the exhibition and an informal discussion about the artworks. This is a great way to start the weekend, and find out more about the artists and Brain Injury Matters.
Light refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome.

Speeches will feature British and Irish Sign Language interpretation.

For more information please contact
Brain Injury Matters (email: ciara@braininjurymatters.org.uk or phone: 02890705125), or
University of Atypical (email: administration@universityofatypical.org or phone: 028 9023 9450).

Artists’ Bios & Statements

Kathryn Clarke (Belfast) has only recently developed an interest in art and enjoys creating paintings that are bold, bright, expressive and use a range of materials. Kathryn likes to create artworks that explore her identity as a young female.

“Art takes my mind off everything that is going on.”

Stephen Gifford (Lisburn) has created a number of different artworks using drawing, painting, collage and photography inspired by 20th century expressionist painters. He has been exhibited in the Flax Gallery, Newtownabbey, Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival and Belfast Exposed, Belfast.

“Creating art improves my dexterity, my brain and helps me make sense and communicate my world.”

Leah Batchelor (Belfast) is a degree trained graphic designer who has been running her own business since 2009. Leah always had an interest in and enjoyed art from a young age, creating a range of mixed media and 3-D pieces inspired by Leah’s life and how Leah experiences and sees the world from a different viewpoint. Her work has been exhibited in Flax Gallery, Newtownabbey, Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival, Belfast Exposed, Belfast.

“It’s a perfect way of expressing myself instead of using words. It is a release, improves my mood and I am not as angry as much.”

Wendy Kelly (Kildare) works very intuitively creating 2-d and 3-d artworks that are woven into the pieces using a wide range of personal and domestic objects which she has collected including, nails, jewellery, plaster and text which she utilises to create artworks that reflect her experiences and express the detail of her ideas. The work has been exhibited in Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave and EastSide Arts Festival, Belfast.

“Art helps me understand myself and my brain that I can’t put into words.”

Lisa Forsythe (Larne) explores the themes of her art using story-telling which includes comical, fantasy animals or creatures that represent Lisa’s experience of her world. Lisa has created a range of flick books, 3-D pieces as well as large scale paintings that have been exhibited in Flax Galley, Newtownabbey, Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival, Belfast Exposed, Belfast.

“Art allows me to be me and to be creative.”

Lesley McClune (Morecambe) primarily enjoys painting that explores her appreciation of colour. Lesley is inspired by the colours seen in the ever changing northern skies, especially as it is characterised in the changing seasons and at different times of the day and in how they represent her thoughts and feelings. Lesley’s painting and other artworks have been exhibited in Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival, Belfast.

“I express how I feel through colour.”

Rene Boyd (Belfast) works in a sensory way utilising sight, touch and smell which is inspired by the nature she experiences at the places she visits regularly and has a deep connection with, such as Victoria Park, Belfast. Rene likes to re-create how she sees and experiences these places through her sensory drawings, paintings, and mixed media.
Rene has exhibited a range of art works in Flax Gallery, Newtownabbey, Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival and Belfast Exposed, Belfast.

“ I create artworks that represent the world how I see it.”

James Stewart (Saintfield) is inspired by a range of interests and hobbies ranging through nature, design to football. This is reflected in the varied themes of his drawings and paintings. He is meticulous and takes a great deal of time and attention to detail with each piece. James’ artworks have been exhibited in Arts for All, Joob Joobs, 2 Royal Ave, EastSide Arts Festival and Belfast Exposed, Belfast.

“For me the process of doing a piece is very important. Spending time on each piece and in doing the best I can, I appreciate it when it’s finished.”

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