Art is acting as a pied piper to help make buzzing Belfast one of the UK's most visited cities. In 2012 alone, Northern Ireland's capital attracted 7.59 million visitors, according to city council figures.
Many of the tourists who dance to Belfast's tune are wooed by its myriad art galleries and exhibition spaces.
The Fenderesky Gallery, Royal Avenue, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last month, regularly displays one-person and theme-based exhibitions featuring the works of living Irish artists and creatives from abroad. It has just finished showcasing The Other Side of Les Fleurs Du Mal, an exhibition of flower-themed paintings and sculptures. The next exhibitions, starting on February 4, are contemporary selections from the works of Claire Carpenter and Martin Wedge. Carpenter's influences include fashion and architecture, while much of Wedge's work is characterised by grotesque depictions of the human portrait.
The Golden Thread Gallery, Great Patrick Street, bills itself as “Northern Ireland's leading international contemporary visual arts organisation”. Until February 15, it is showcasing the deliciously dark Nicholas Keogh, an artist engaged with Shamanic practices, alternative rituals and alleyway activities. Exhibits include a pair of “Bin Discos”, portable sound systems constructed from bins.
Belfast Exposed, Donegall Street, is the country's only gallery specialising in contemporary photography. It comprises two galleries and a bookshop and offers an extensive community engagement programme. Next week (Friday, January 24) sees its latest offering: Men and Women by Tom Wood. He has revisited his vast archive, including Football Grounds and Looking for Love, and added unseen images too.
The Taylor Gallery, Lisburn Road, concentrates on contemporary works such as Andy Warhol screen prints and fine Irish art. Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon and Banksy are among other big hitters who have coruscated its walls.
Red Barn Gallery, Rosemary Street, seeks to paint a historic picture of Northern Ireland through photography. One for traditionalists, it is still very much dedicated to the traditional use of film. The gallery prides itself on maintaining its “core ethos of good photography captured in the camera and not created on the computer.
Visited Belfast and have any good finds we might have missed? Let us know through Facebook, Twitter or comment below.
Nicholas Keogh - Dust Bin Disco Web
Three Wise Women, 1990 © Tom Wood