top of page

Noelle McAlinden

The Art of Conversation: Mental Health Special

'The Art of Conversation' with Noelle McAlinden: a dedicated focus on artists, creatives and cultural champions reflecting on their sources of inspiration and self-expression, highlighting the importance of creativity and self-expression and the arts on mental health and well-being.

NIMHAF 'The Art of Loneliness' Panel Discussion May 12th 7pm to 8pm via Zoom

Also, join Noelle McAlinden and Frank Liddy for 'The Art of Loneliness' live panel with invited guests: Nuala McKeever, Joe Nawaz, John Deery, Matt Deery, Lorna Smyth, Siobhan Ferguson and Mel Bradley.

Our panel will be reflecting on the theme of Loneliness, how their own creativity, self-expression and the role of arts can support us in times of Loneliness. We will also discuss strategies that they have found useful and how it may be a source of inspiration in their lives and practice.

To register to view the live 'The Art of Loneliness Panel Discussion', email


Joseph Nawaz (Belfast)

Joe Nawaz is a writer, performer and critic who lives and works in Belfast.

The former television critic with the Belfast Telegraph, Joe is a regular contributor to radio and television. His live shows, Hey You! and Fake ID premiered at Belfast Comedy Festival (2016 and 2017). He co-founded and wrote for Shotglass Theatre Co, producing new work in unorthodox settings and premiering six new shows (including Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast and Open House Festival Bangor) from 2013 - 2016. Joe wrote and performed the acclaimed one man show Fake ID which toured across Northern Ireland to sell-out audiences (2018-2019). He has contributed two scripts to ensemble productions at the MAC, Belfast - The Love Doctor (Date Show, Threes Company 2018) & Bricks (for audio drama series On the Street Where We Live, 2021). He also wrote, produced and presented the BBC Radio documentary Sticking Out, which was nominated for an Irish Radio Award in 2019. Joe performed a couple of nights of his most recent show Small Tales from Talktown, before the pandemic put paid to such public gatherings.  

Joe is currently developing a new one man show Five Days in Pakistan with the support of Eastside Arts and Arts and ACNI.

Siobhan Ferguson (Fermanagh/Belfast)

I am a landscape still and moving image artist, taking a very organic autobiographical approach when expressing and making art with photographs dealing with the human figure and the landscape. A healing occurs with found objects in the land going deep to the core of my existence on a subconscious level. The methodology in my unique approach by performance in front of the camera creates room for reassessing its effectiveness allowing art to move on and change. It is not the Self itself but it is an essential part of the process. 

My photographic voice is the way that I see the world as my passion for travel has informed my life decisions, dreams and ambitions, creating a visual language that is unique to me. Throughout my artist practice to date I have had opportunities to develop a wide range of skills i.e. 1st class (hons) photography. An art residency in Spain helped to explore the medium of light and different ways of capturing sound and movement. 

By exploring the events and experiences from my private life through visual material, autobiographical images, I feel encourages viewers to respond using their own life. Rooted in self-reflection, this interactive dialogue is a powerful instrument for critically examining visual discourse and doubles as a process for better understanding the self.

My work has been given prominence in numerous art and photography magazines and exhibitors in Ireland. Exhibiting at art residencies internationally from 2018 to present.


Nuala McKeever (Belfast)

Nuala McKeever is a professional comedy writer and performer and an amateur student of the human condition.

After having her own show on television, she has written five plays, the most recent of which, In The Window, toured to Edinburgh, the USA and India.

Nuala is a regular occasional presenter on BBC Radio Ulster.

After the death of her partner in 2013, she became interested in the practice of Zen Buddhism, taking lay vows in 2017.

During lockdown she managed to finish her first novel (writing, not reading!) stay sane and put on weight. She lives in Belfast with her cat Lolli and an addiction to potato crisps that she has just wrestled into submission.

Nuala is currently writing a new stand up comedy show for the Open House festival in Bangor this August.

John Deery and Matt Deery (Derry)
Brothers John and Matt Deery are creative artists and musicians from Derry. In 2010, singer-songwriter John joined forces with guitarist Matt to create John Deery and the Heads, who have since gone on to establish themselves as one of NI’s finest original bands. Apart from the music, the brothers are frequent creative collaborators across many creative arts areas, including a number of projects concerning mental health and suicide prevention, such as the films DROP and most recently JACK, directed by John and starring Matt in the lead role. With experience across a range of creative arts areas including animation, music, photography, filmmaking, acting, painting, design and more, John and Matt Deery are powerful advocates for the importance of the creative arts for mental wellbeing.

Lorna Smyth (Fermanagh/Dublin)

I'm a professional artist/painter for over 20 years. I qualified from NCAD ( National college of Art and Design) in 1993, Dublin and over the years I have exhibited in over 50 art exhibitions, including over 15 solo shows. My paintings have sold locally, nationally & internationally. I'm amused that my paintings are hanging in private collections in countries that I have not visited... yet!

I paint on either handmade linen, paper or canvas, which I then embellish using machine embroidery and/or hand embroidery. However my figurative work is in oil, with no embroidery, which I feel would be too harsh.


Mel Bradley (Derry)

Mel Bradley is a spoken word artist, writer, playwright/theatre-maker, multimedia artist, designer, actor and activist. A gatherer of the untold stories of women. An outspoken queer feminist performer with a candid voice and an unhealthy obsession with the Virgin Mary. A creative genius with the attention span of a gnat and an incapacity for boredom.

bottom of page