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Catalyst Arts

Founded 1993
Location 6 Joys Entry, Belfast

Catalyst Arts was formed in 1993.  In accordance with its constitution it is run by unpaid volunteers, and seeks to adopt a poly-vocal strategy towards the promotion of contemporary art practices by large selection of artists and projects from the widest possible range of disciplines.



In 1993, a group of artists teamed up and endeavoured to make a difference in the Northern Irish art scene, today Catalyst Arts sits steadfast as Belfast’s primary artist-led space. Staying true to its title, Catalyst Arts flourishes in offering opportunities, supporting practices, sustaining a community, while always looking to the future. It’s ability to change, transform and adapt only serves to nurture the expanding varieties of artistic work from emerging to established practitioners. Whether local, national or international, Catalyst Arts is a platform that facilitates the alternative middle ground of cultural programming and production, allowing it to thrive in an accessible and contemporary setting.

Catalyst Arts has welcomed many through its doors, challenging the formal structures of curatorship and is often referred to as the “informal MA programme”. The rich and unique programme that Catalyst delivers every year would not be possible without the team of committed volunteers, who willingly give their time, tears and love. The directorship is a rolling two year commitment and has cycled through a variety of professionals from sound artists, bakers, sculptors, teachers, performers and administrators; culminating in a history of over eighty directors. Its success is propelled by the drive, ambition and passion of each director in producing the notable and cutting edge annual programme. This opportunity is a launching platform that has witnessed previous directors become heads of national organisations, institutional curators, exhibiting international artists, outreach coordinators, Turner prize winners, and pushed forward the careers and potential of many others. Aside from hours of administration, budget deliberating, management meetings, painting the walls white for the millionth time and patiently waiting for the ‘ping’ of a good news email, the directorship gives the chance to be part of something exciting and fresh. An opportunity to engrave one’s mark in Catalyst Arts’ ongoing story. Still recruiting to this day, it is the team that keeps the cogs turning through the madness that defines this organisation.

Catalyst Arts  as a gallery and project space, maintains its manifesto to embrace the multidimensionality of the contemporary arts; promoting a wide possibility of disciplines and realising the outgoing nature of artistic practice that continues to proliferate both locally and beyond. The programme  has breached the gallery walls through site specific projects throughout the city and engages with other organisations in unknown territory. It is the production site of the FIX Biennial, which continues to be the longest running performance art festival in Ireland and the UK, as well as in Europe. It has played host to over a thousand artists and collectives, numerous workshops, countless public happenings and various outreach events, and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Catalyst Arts is a non-profit and a members-based organisation, meaning that the committee is dedicated and responsible to care for its members: by artists for artists. Catalyst Arts welcomes anyone who is interested in volunteering and, most importantly, in applying to become a director. The limited contract ensures Catalyst Arts remains vibrant with new energy, learns from its mistakes and avoids stagnation. This provides its changing team with the experience, skills and presence to supplement their careers to keep moving forward.2


Selected exhibitions featuring Lens-based Media

  • 2001, 18th of October – 1st of December, The Stars Looks Down
  • 2001, 27th of September – 5th of October, Belfast Film festival and Klub
  • 2001, 31st July – 10th August, Strutt, Michelle Mc Cloy, Phil Collins, Deirdre Mc Kenna, Sam Rucica, Miriam Rogers, Stephen Mc Keowan, Michael O’ Boyle, Phil Hession, Fiona Ni Mhaoili.
  • 2001, 1st June – 4th July, Advertance
  • 2001, 5th April – 1st of May, Two Weeks In Another Town, Sean Hillen, Margaret Barron, Makiko Nakamura, Tracey Murray, Gair Dunlop, Belinda Guidi, Sarah Felton, and Shauna Mc Mullan.
  • 2000, 18th May – 10th June, Alex Bag
  • 2000, 31st March – 22nd April, Praying, Cursing & setting big fires
  • 2000, No Trustpassing
  • 2000, Cinilingus 
  • 2001, 3rd – 13th May, Cathedral Quarter Art Festival
  • 2000, 10th February – 18th March, Bush Mechanics, Claire Barclay and Anne Ooms
  • 1998, 17th December – 1999, 29th January, Catalyst Arts / IMMA artists work programme
  • 1998, 27th March – 17th April, Right Time Wrong Place Friend, Marie Copestake, Chris Evans, Duncan Hamilton, Rachel Lowe, Declan Sheenan and Padraig Timoney.
  • 1998, 15th January – 17th January, You Can Chase Me With A Pitchfork If You Want To,  Alexa Brunet, Wendy Chaffer, Janet, Stella d’Ailly, Chris Donnelly, Brian Dynes, Kieren Hunter, Jennifer Leckey, Barry McCarroll and Paul Stewart.
  • 1998, 30th October – 27th November, Martin, Fiona Banner, Meg Cranston, Rod Dickinson, F.R.-E.S.P., Alison Gill, Hidesato Matsumoto, Shuko Nagata, Motohiko Odani, Hiroko Okada, O[rphan] D[rift], Switch, The Curators Arse/FLAG (Peter Fillingham, Tony Hayward, Runa Islam, Peter Lewis), The White Visitation, Chris Wilder, Steven Wong, Florian Zeyfang, curated by David Goldenburg this exhibition showed in Catalyst Arts, North Street Arcade and the reception of Gentle Dental Care dentist surgery, Lisburn Road, Belfast.
  • 1998, 27th March – 17th May, 3.2.1., Maurice Doherrty, John Coffey, Ciara Finnegan, Russell Hart, Julie McGowan and Judith Wilson.
  • 1997, 10th  May – 22nd May, Waterfront, Mark Dawes, Graham Fagan, Daniel Jewesbury, Ronan McCrea,  Eoghan McTigue, Mark Orange, Susan Philipsz and Mike Wilson,  Waterfront Hall
  • 1997, Video Cats
  • 1997, Art exchange Show 
  • 1997, 6th – 27th  September, Satellite City, Klaar van der Lippe represented by Casco, Matt Mitchell collaborated with Bank, from Glasgow, Sarah Tripp, Cathy Wilkes, Sue Tompkins, Hayley Tompkins and Victoria Morton. Florian Wuest. D.J.s from Knucklehead Jilkes and Hatch and Reality Check
  • 1997, 17th January – 7th February, Directors Show, Eoghan McTigue, Niamh O’Malley, Brian Patterson, Toby Dennett, Susan Philipsz, Peter Richards and Angela Darby.
  • 1997, 20th Feb – 13th March, Under a frogs arse at the bottom of a coal mine, Dan Shipsides and Jo McGonigal
  • 1996, 10th January, Mathew Smith
  • 1996, 5th -26th April, Past Present / Present Past, Nancy Hild and Silver Maligno.
  • 1996, 31st October, Splatter, A one night event set in an haunted house on Halloween featuring the work of over 40 artists from a variety of disciplines including live, sound, projection, installation and spoken art forms. Crawfordsburn House.
  • 1996, 9th Sept – 11th October, Singled Out, Heather Allen, Damian Coyle, Martina Corry, Eva Rothchild, Brian Patterson and Willy Herron
  • 1996, Mark Haddon
  • 1996, Film Club
  • 1995, Trust Me I Trust You, Maurice O’Connell
  • 1995, Exchange Resources
  • 1995, 3rd-10th December, Focus north, Film and video from Ireland and Britain curated by Glasgow’s New Visions. Plus a compilation of Scottish works culled from previous New Visions festivals.
  • 1995, Barrage
  • 1995, 22nd March – 7th April, The Agonies of a Wrong Decision, Mary McIntyre and Eilis O’Baoill.
  • 1995, 3rd -25th February, Super 8, Duncan Campbell, Siofra Campbell, Derval Fitzgerald, Sandra Johnston, Dougal McKenzie, Eilis O’Baoill, Mark Orange and Karen Vaughan.
  • 1994, 23rd November -16th December, Free for all, Members Show
  • 1994, June-July, Hit and Run, Una Bryce, Susan MacWilliam, Graeme Kill, Alistair MacLennan, Holly Fay, Roland Buckingham, Will McKeown, Lorraine Burrell, Paddy McCann, Derval Fitzgerald, Damien Coyle, Dougal McKenzie, Michael Minnis, Terry Loane, Eius O BM)ill, Mary McIntyre, Mark Orange, Karen Vaughan, Richard Hall, Jill Jennings, Paul Seawright, Gavin Weston, Lynne Connolly, Robert Peters, Michael Boan, Kate Malone, Aine Ni Giolle Coda, Sharon Kerr, Theo Sims, Tony Hill, Aisling O Beirn, Philip Napier, Chris North, Brian Connolly, Susan Philipz, Janine Tambourine, Ronan McCrea, Dot Daly, Rigid Teehan, Colin McGoqkin, Shirley MacWilliam, Norman Frazer, David Ledsham, Sharon Kelly, Dan Eggs, Alex Rigg, Jon Adie, Colin Finley, Nuala Gregory, Philip Mussen, Wilmont House, Lady Dixon Park, Belfast. 3
  • 1994, 21st September -1st October, B&B, Tibor Zielinski, Agnes Szabics, Toby Dennett, Karen Vaughan.
  • 1994, Without Predudice, Jonathan Aide, Siobhan Mullen, Philip Mussen, Pamela Hamilton, Jo Fursman, Steven Paige, Michael Baker, Deidre Mackel, Tim Kerr, Depak Kausal, Keike Twisselman, Aisling O’Beirn, Jim Campbell, S Young, Ken davidson, Sean Burns, Brendan Clarke, Mark Brown, Eilis O’Baoill, Sandra Johnston, Theo Simms, Mark Brown, Barry Byrne, Bronagh Maguire, Martina Corry, Redrock Design Company, Liesel Panchaud, Richard Hall, Brendan Clarke, Duncan Campbell, Laura Gannon, Lynne Connolly, Alex Rigg, Sara LeeJim Baker, Carol McCabe, Imelda Heron, Caroline Williamson, John Smyth, Alistair MacLennan, Hilary Robinson, 5 Exchange Place, Donegall st, Belfast
  • 1993, 24th Sept -15th Oct, Transmission in Belfast, An exchange show with Transmission Gallery, Glasgow and Catalyst Arts, Belfast. Artists from Belfast: Karen Vaughan, Sandra Johnston, Aine Nic Giolla Coda, Terry Mc Allister, Derval Fitzgerald Artists from Glasgow: Gerald Byrne, Jacqueline Donaghy, Anna Millson, Emma Neilson, Richard Wright, Temple Court, Belfast
  1. “About” Catalyst Arts Archive Website
  2. “About” Catalyst Arts