Members news and events

Pollenators are involved with a diverse range of organisations and projects . Here are some of our other activities

We are Grace Fairley of the Take Up Space project at Connswater and Aimee Magee of Pollen Studio Belfast, founders of Arts Fest, a new experimental community arts project based in Belfast.

Arts Fest was born from a desire to raise awareness of the extremely talented and under represented artists emerging in Belfast. We aim to create a safe environment for music and arts where is everyone is welcome to encourage solidarity amongst artists and bring our community closer together.

Our first show is being hosted by Arts for ALL at Cityside Retail Park on Friday 6th March 6-9pm.

We have over 20 artists showcasing work with musical talent and dj performances on the opening night.

Come check out our group show of fresh and funky artists bursting on to the scene in Belfast. Expect digital babes, large scale newspaper sculptures, impossible textiles, atmospheric photography and pertuative painting. We will dazzle and delight you, ignite your senses, make you boogie the night away and leave you feeling lovely.

Drinks and snacks provided.

We will see you for the opening on Friday 6th March 6-9pm, in Arts for ALL at Cityside.

Exhibition runs for 2 weeks.

Supported by Pollen Studio Belfast, Take Up Space, Arts for ALL and Belfast Visual Arts Forum.

Pollen Studio members joined with representatives from other studio groups from Belfast for an important meeting with the Belfast City Council City Growth and Regen Committee to highlight the following situation for artist studios in Belfast.

On Wednesday 12 February, representatives from 18 Belfast-based grassroots arts organisations - host to approximately 450 artists - will gather at City Hall to request emergency intervention from Belfast City Council City Growth and Regeneration Committee members in the face of rampant redevelopment that threaten their spaces and livelihoods. 


Many of these artist-led organisations save their private landlords thousands of pounds annually in rates, make their own repairs to buildings often in substandard conditions of inhabitability, and occupying spaces and buildings that could not easily be rented to other organisations without significant financial input from the landlords. Whilst many organisations do have good relationships with their landlords, there is no incentive for them to invest in the infrastructure where the studios are only given short term leases and are occupying buildings on a temporary basis. The only way to ensure a vibrant arts sector going forward is to give studios and grassroots organisations security and stability by offering them support to buy their own buildings or long leases in publicly owned buildings.


Most of these artists do their work in their spare time and manage their buildings and output voluntarily on top of job, family and education commitments. Many artists work in low-paid arts and voluntary sector jobs, also in the city and so contribute to the ecology of the arts in the city in multiple ways, that would be impossible to replace easily or quickly, or without a great loss to the cultural caché of Belfast.


Belfast has produced outstanding visual arts and has grown a healthy, self-sustaining community for decades, but at this point we are beyond being able to ‘make-do and mend’, we need real and meaningful support from all quarters, so many of us will need to seek arts communities elsewhere.


Jayne Cherry, founder and artist member of Pollen Studios and Gallery, says:

Creating a space for public viewing of art, facilitating workshops for direct art experiences and enabling a creative energy to survive in the city centre free of charge has always been a struggle. It is now becoming impossible. The building we and other creative artists have been paying rent in for ten years has been sold and will become offices. This has been a self-funded organisation that has provided support and opportunities to many student, graduate, post-graduate, local and international artists, other art organisations and the Belfast School of Art. We are one of the last two artists’ studios in the city centre. There is no stable, secure and dedicated place for us to provide this service anymore. How is society to access creative enrichment from another office block? 


Dorothy Hunter, Flax Arts Studios - one of around 50 artists currently based in the former UTV premises at Havelock House - added: 

Artists do not want to be cynically used as pawns of gentrification as we’re pushed further and further from the city – we want to be able to have enough affordable and secure space to work to the best of our ability and make a vibrant creative culture. Sustainability needs to be a priority. Talent drains from Northern Ireland as the arts are simply not valued here in so many aspects of society. Spatial security is one way we can effect change, and as a result, demonstrate an authentic year-round value placed in the arts. This is what makes urban spaces genuinely exciting, and without it, Belfast’s unique grassroots scene will continue to suffer to a point beyond repair.


Our city’s planners are looking to international models to improve other elements of city development, such as Copehagen’s fully pedestrianised streets, Oslo’s carbon neutrality and Glasgow’s appreciation for its built heritage. Aside from the inherent benefits of artist-led culture, our grassroots infrastructure also contributes to the social, environmental and economic texture of our city. Let’s use it before we lose it.



Key points: further information for journalists


●      17 of 17 organisations have fewer than 3 years, 16 less than 18 months, 15 less than 12 months, 7 less than 9 months - on ‘tenancy at will’ contracts, and 1 less than 1 month


●      One studio - home to 12 artists plus project/exhibition space - has moved 3 times in 18 months (both to and from Belfast’s main thoroughfare - Royal Avenue) because their licences stipulate they can stay only 18 months – any longer and they would acquire tenancy rights. 


●      The costs for moving large studios such as Flax are approximately £4000 - which cannot/will not be funded by Arts Council, BCC etc. 


●      New BCC CMAF streams have income/turnover thresholds (as well as time/sustainability thresholds) which exclude organisations operating under £100k and privileges those operating with >£100k, and >£300k in particular. This is particularly damaging to grassroots organisations and artist studios that have low operating costs. Many artist-led spaces don’t need huge sums, but they do need consistency and an ability to plan more than 12 months in advance.


●      In the new Belfast Agenda, Belfast City Council commits to being ‘a culturally vibrant city. The success of this is dependent on the real experiences of the people who live, work and visit here. Council has a clear role in facilitating the networks and building the capacity and skills to deliver on the cultural dimension of this Agenda’ (page 23). Within the next three years, and with year of culture discussions underway for 2022, all 17 out of 17 organisations will have exhausted their current leases and may have disappeared entirely. 


●      We - as grassroots organisations represented by volunteers, often entirely managed by individual artists - prop up the larger organisations and infrastructure, including popular city festivals and the majority do this for free. Any further removal of our spaces, labour and activities at a grassroots level will have catastrophic consequences at the highest levels of the city’s cultural output. 


On Tuesday 25 February, representatives from these organisations and many more throughout Belfast’s arts scene will gather again at City Hall to discuss how they can continue, and what the impacts will be should a lack of funding and recognition continue in the same way. 

Zara Lyness

Bbeyond performance art organisation supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Presents: ON THE WAY … step by step


Bbeyond proposes the theme and concept of Freedom and Identity, with the potential sense of Freedom from Identity, to help expand our thinking on Identity. On the Way … Step by Step uses Freedom and Identity as themes to develop a deep ecology where the role of artists is in promoting creativity as outlets of contemporary thinking moving the agenda from ego to eco and beyond echoing contemporary issues. Bbeyond endeavours to engage with these issues through promoting solo and groups performance art works.


The NI border represents division and with its centenary looming and Brexit taking place, Bbeyond wishes to highlight this very important and sensitive aspect of Freedom and Identity proposing performative ways to overcome divisions, even if its only a momentary overcoming or eclipsing chronological time.


This is arts essential essence and potential, ‘art as unity’ as Iris Murdock encapsulates it.


Performances by: Boris Nieslony, Karin Meiner, Nieves Correa, Anette Friedrich Johannessen, Mari Norddahl, Bernadette Hopkins, Elaine McGinn, Eleni Kolliopoulou, Sandra Corrigan Breathnach, Zara Lyness

Jayne Cherry

The Visualisation of Pain

University of Atypical, 21st -29th November

Jayne Cherry

Jayne Cherry exhibited and was involved in workshops for this event. 

This exhibition is a part of a wider research study led by Ulster University, PhD Researcher Niamh McConaghy. Participants are from both the University of Atypical and the charity Versus Arthritis, and all experience chronic pain in one form or another. The artwork shown in this exhibition is created in response to both the experienced psychosocial pain experience and visually documented pain experience over a two week period. This work investigates if a combination of language (through poetry) and visual art can articulate a more comprehensive way to communicate chronic pain, that is reflective of the total pain experience.

Northern Ireland Versus Arthritis ArthritisCare Arthritis Action Rheumatoid Arthritis Group Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group
#artsNI Belfast Visual Arts Forum Community Fine Art Belfast Belfast Art Galleries Ulster University


Jayne Cherry

Leitrim Sculpture Centre

4th & 5th October

The Glens Centre Theatre Space

Jayne Cherry is making live performance work on Friday 4th October as part of the Somatic Distortion event that includes performance from an international gathering or artists including Alastair MacLennan, Fergus Byrne, Analía Beltrán í Janés, Fausto Grossi, Elvira Santamaría Torres, Rainer Pagel, Keike Twisselmann. Please see the link for schedule of performances and talks.


Zara Lyness

Tropical Ravine House, Botanic Gardens

Funded by the ACNI SIAP General Art Awards, Zara Lyness has installed 6 Parian porcelain Cryptolaemus bugs that will support education visits and talks by Botanic Gardens staff. The Australian Ladybird larvea are used as part of the ecological pest control methods in the Ravine House and Botanic Gardens greenhouses. To book a visit to learn more about the Ravine House follow the link.


Jayne Cherry & Zara Lyness

Belfast Artists Paper Society, Framewerk Gallery

Group exhibition of works on paper by BAPS


Niamh Clarke

Selected to exhibit in the RDS Art Awards 2019

Congratulations to Naimh Clarke for selection into the 2019 RDS Art Awards Exhibition. The exhibition will be held in the RDS Concert Hall and will run from 18th - 24th October 2019.

About the Project

The Expanded Studio Project is a 6 month collaborative initiative between artists based in Belfast and resident artists at Primary. The aim of the project is to develop external relationships, exchange ideas and explore different modes of collaboration.

The Expanded Studio Project was initiated by Jane Morrow (PS² Curator in Residence) and by resident artists at Primary. It is jointly co-ordinated by Deirdre Morrissey (Belfast) and Nastassja Simensky (Nottingham). It is supported by Arts Council England and Belfast City Council.

Participating artists based in Belfast:
Alex Brunt; Barry Mulholland; Hannah McBride; Declan Proctor; Esther O’Kelly; Zara Lyness; Gerard Carson; Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell; Robin Price; Jackie Wylie; Thomas Wells; Heather Dornan Wilson; Sinead McKeever; Grace McMurray

Participating artists based in Nottingham:
Chris Lewis-JonesRoger SucklingRebecca GambleBruce AsbestosChristine StevensGeorgina BarneyInes GarciaLouisa ChambersMarek TobolewskiMik GodleyPete EllisRhiannon JonesNadim Chaudry; Sarah Tut; Paul Webber


Niamh Clarke

Artcetera Gallery

The Multi Culti Collective is a group of recent graduates of Fine Art from Ulster University who are showing a body of work as diverse as their ethnic backgrounds. The artists – Ausrine Suratkeviciute, Niamh Clarke, Amy Devlin, Marta Dyczkowska, Jessica Gunn, Maria Horvathova, Anna Horvathova, Bernie Mc Adam, Megan Mclaughlin, Sarah-Jane Mclaughlin and Anka Sikora hail from Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Northern Ireland.


Sinéad Breathnach-Cashell & Zara Lyness

PS2, Belfast & Primary Studios, Nottingham

Expended Studio Project is artist-led and invites dialogue and exchange between fifteen Belfast-based visual artists and fifteen counterparts based at Primary in Nottingham. It offers a catalyst for new collaborations, production of new work, exposure to different skills and approaches and an enhanced network of practitioners, organisations and audiences in another region of the UK.

Practised Hands

Over forty years since production ended in Conway Mill, the Drying Room will be animated with automatic drawing machines, live performers and archive film. Artists Alice Clark and Jayne Cherry invite you to their mesmerising performance in harmony with scenes of the linen industry from the Digital Film Archive. The past and present will overlap as the gestures of current linen workers echo those from decades before. Join us on either night to discover what will emerge from this alchemy of raw materials and raw footage. Expect home grown flax, industrial waste and more. 


Jayne Cherry is an artist living and working in the countryside of Co.Down. She makes art to try to comprehend her personal experiences and emotional wanderings. Using intricate investigations with drawing, painting, needlework, sound, installation and live art performances she attempts to decipher any covert signs and leave clues that may be helpful to those who come behind her.

Alice Clark’s background is in weaving but after graduating from Ulster University with an MA in Fine Art in 2011 she has worked in a variety of media including drawing, making, installation, and performance. All relate in a broad sense to landscape and the environment. Her practice explores ways of relating to and interacting with natural and often live objects such as trees, plants and seeds.

This live cinema event is a partnership project by Northern Ireland Screen, Film Hub NI and Pollen Studio. It is curated by Sinéad Bhreathnach Cashell and funded by BFI Film Audience Network supported by the National Lottery. It is possible thanks to additional support from Belfast Film Festival, Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, the GT Gallery and the Flax Visitor Centre. 

Conway Mill, Drying Room, 5-7 Conway Street, Belfast, BT13 2DE

Thursday 4th October 6:30-8:30pm and Friday 5th October 6:30-8:30pm.

Contact with any questions. 

This event is part of the Linen Biennale. Northern Ireland’s Linen Biennale celebrates the past, present and future landscape of linen through an extended arts festival, presented and hosted by multiple venues across the region.


Jayne Cherry, Alice Clark & Sinéad Breathnach-Cashell

Conway Mill

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