Atypical Gallery, 109-113 Royal Ave, Belfast BT1 1FF
administration@universityofatypical.org

I AM? Exhibition

1st February - 24th March 2024

An exhibition exploring the theme of ‘I Am’ by artists Wendy Kelly, James Stewart, Stephen Gifford, Rene Boyd, Leah Batchelor, Lesley McClune, Kathryn Clarke and Lisa Forsythe.

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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