Announcing: Ideal Development Opportunity selected artists
ash Anraí-Jones, Laura Nelson, Katharine Paisley, Aiden Brady, Thomas Wells
We're excited to announce the five artists that we've selected for our forthcoming project, Ideal Development Opportunity.
Ideal Development Opportunity invites artists to engage with and reimagine Belfast’s structures, whether built or social. Artists will meet with communities of interest in five different areas of the city (identified as Botanic, Court, Lisnasharragh, Oldpark, and Titanic), with PS² as a central hub. With these communities, the selected artists will develop manifestos that propose co-designed alternatives for our city’s future, and with arts and culture as an integral part of our lives and environments.
Outcomes from this process will be displayed throughout the city and presented to the public and to city representatives, for input, suggestions, and feedback. An exhibition will take place in the PS² Project Space from 20 March - 15 April 2024 and images from the projects will also be displayed on the PeasPark siteboard throughout 2024.
About the artists:
ash Anraí-Jones (she/her/ash/aer) is a musician, writer and performer based in Belfast. A graduate of Drama & Film Studies at Queen's University Belfast, she is the frontperson of queerpunk band Strange New Places, who released their debut EP ‘Uncomfortable’ in 2019. In 2020 aer took part in Outburst Arts’ inaugural ‘Transforming Stages’ programme, for which she wrote ‘Good Morning Human’ for a rehearsed reading in the Black Box, Belfast. The next year, she was accepted onto the NIO’s ’21 Artists for the 21st Century’ artist development programme, writing anti-establishment play ‘How Do You Bleed?’ for a production directed by Emily Foran. In 2022, she wrote, produced and starred in ‘Save Our Games!’ a fiction podcast about video games criticism released in March with the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her work focuses on themes of belonging, queerness, mental health, and community, and her upcoming projects include a video series exploring Belfast's built heritage and history. She splits her time between aer music work, writing and acting, political activism, and her mischiefs of pet rats.
Laura Nelson (she/her) studied BA Hons Art & Visual Culture and a PGCE in Further & Higher education at U.W.E, Bristol, and H.D.K, Berlin, between 1999-2005. In 2010 she returned to her native Ireland to begin a new life in sunny Belfast. In 2017, she helped establish Vault Artist Studios and has been a member ever since.
Pre-pandemic, her work largely revolved around community arts and facilitation. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a break in this type of work, and allowed Laura the time and space to fully immerse in her passion for typography and hand-painted lettering practice.
Her current work revives the traditional art of sign-painting and often humorously references both nostalgia and better times to come. Nelson also still works in sculpture, installation, events production though her work is increasingly public and site-specific, with recent interventions on the walls of Belfast, Kells, Laois, and Bristol.
Katharine Paisley (b. 1996) is an interdisciplinary artist from Co. Tyrone, who primarily works in paint and film. The subject of her work varies, however, her practice continues to explore resilience and forms of coping. She is based at Flax Art Studios, Belfast. Katharine graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in 2018 with a BA Hons in Fine Art. She works as a Gallery Assistant at Golden Thread Gallery and as an Outreach Artist. Most recently, she completed a British Council Venice Research Fellowship 2022 and was a Flax Emerging Artist Project Space committee member. Her work has been shown in multiple group and solo shows locally and nationally; and included in numerous publications. She has been awarded funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Aiden Brady is a New Media artist, writer and performer based in Newry City. His practice holds a socially engaged focus, while drawing from auto-ethnography to relate his personal context to wider themes. Exploiting this relation, his working interest prioritises concepts such as identity, place and the self. He hopes that connecting his own experience to the sociocultural landscape in which he is situated enables approaches which highlight the usefulness of appraising our surroundings in an embodied manner. Sound, video and interactive systems are important to Aiden’s work. These forms simultaneously facilitate representation of the artist’s subjectivity while problematising his authorial control. He is a recent graduate of University of Limerick’s Art & Technology, MA. In August 2023, Aiden presented his audiovisual work, Homehouse, as his thesis project at UL’s DAWN exhibition. He currently hosts “One Less Colour” on Dublin Digital Radio. The show combines field recording, performance and selected music to interrogate narrative forms in the radio context. In April 2023, he participated in the “Adhesion” group show at Spacecraft Studios in Limerick City. His writing has been previously published in the Ogham Stone journal and broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside.
Thomas Wells (he/they) is an artist and curator based in Belfast. Their work is based in socially-engaged practice involving LGBTQ+ spaces of collective experience. Originally from Manchester, they have been working in the north of Ireland since 2017. Thomas’ recent projects include Neverlandz, a performance work for Outburst Arts Festival 2023 exploring hospitality as a political space of engagement. Thomas was also recently commissioned by Household and Belfast City Council to undertake a community ‘take-over’ project in East Belfast exploring LGBTQ+ community storytelling, historical and contemporary visibility and representation. Thomas is founder of SAM’S EDEN; a queer arts publication initiated in 2020, this project includes three printed editions at Catalyst Arts (2021) and The MAC (2022) and Outburst Arts Festival (2021) as well as a group exhibition at CCA Derry/Londonderry (2023). The aim of the project is to support LGBTQ+ creative practice with a focus on history, heritage and activism.
Alongside their independent practice, Thomas is a member of Array Collective. In 2021, they were the recipients of the Turner Art Prize at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry with their installation The Druthaib's Ball. In 2023 and 2024, Array Collective are contributing a series of interventions to the exhibition Self-Determination: A Global Perspective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.