Visual Arts: Julian Friers' Irish music paintings a first for new Sea Holly gallery

Bangor-born artist Julian Friers in the Sea Holly gallery with paintings from his Resonance collection, the gallery's inaugural exhibition. Picture by Mark Marlow

BELFAST'S newest gallery, Sea Holly, has opened to the public with an exhibition of paintings by Bangor-born, north coast-based artist Julien Friers.

The gallery, situated above the Harp Bar and New Orpheus on Hill Street in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, is a privately run, independent exhibition space that's the vision of Harp Bar and Duke of York owners Willie and Joanne Jack and their late business partner and friend Bruce Kirk.

It is named in tribute to talented Co Down photographer Jill Todd, who lost her life to cancer at just 23; the sea holly, a small plant that grows in sand dunes, was the subject of one of her early projects. Jill's parents, Barrie and Patricia Todd, along with her friends and colleagues, established The Jill Todd Trust to promote early careers in photography and support cancer research. Barrie is the architect and designer who brought Willie, Joanne and Bruce's visions of the gallery to life.

Resonance, the inaugural show, consists of “21 life sized paintings of individuals defined by music", according to the artist. Those depicted include Mary Black; Paul Brady; Soak; Andy Irvine; DJs Annie Mac and Dave Fanning; Bronagh Gallagher and her fellow Derry native Andrew Ferris, frontman of "legendary cult band Jetplane Landing"; guitar maker George Lowden and festival founder Paddy Glasgow.

"They are all, very specifically, associated with Ireland – mostly from here, in some cases moved here, but all contributing to our vast heritage of music. They form an interesting diversity – from the instantly recognizable to less familiar champions and catalysts, all have a story to tell,” says Julian.

The Sea Holly says it aims to bring art of all forms to the heart of Belfast and to support and encourage local artists at all stages of their careers.?

"Although the world of art is not in any way an area in which we have expertise, we recognise that it is very difficult for new artists to find spaces to share their work and gain exhibition experience. We are delighted that this is something which Sea Holly can offer," the owners say.

:: See Sea Holly on social media platforms for exhibition dates and details.

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