The University of Ulster has 4 campuses which are located throughout Northern Ireland. The MFA Fine Art is based in the Belfast campus (Belfast College of Art) which is located at the heart of the city centre.
Boasting a state of the art learning resource centre and lecture theatre this campus provides an exciting environment for the development and support of creativity.
Belfast is a vibrant city with a multilayered, fluid and particular historical and cultural context. Since the progression of the peace process the city has been undergoing major urban redevelopments – with riverside and docklands being prime development areas – along with residential, city centre and commercial areas. Still there are large areas which suffer and bare the consequences of the “troubles” and the ramifications of ongoing political motions and events. The problematic and successful city redevelopments – with their cultural, political and social dimensions play an important role in (art) working in in Belfast.
As an artistic centre Belfast has a tradition of artist-run spaces and organisations as well as long established art institutions. Examples are: Catalyst Arts, The MAC, The Golden Thread Gallery, BBeyond, PS2, Belfast Exposed, Factotum / Vacuum, Flax Art, Orchid Studios, Array Studios, Queen Street Studios & Gallery. Many other initiatives flourish and develop from the hot bed of recent graduates and the emerging artist scene such as – Delawab, Satis House and PRIME.
In 2008 Art and Design celebrated 160 years of delivering artistic education in Belfast (The Belfast Art College – housing us – one of the longest running MFA courses in the UK).
Belfast has also acted as a location for non-gallery forms of practice for many years and much of this has been specifically focused or located in physically and conceptually contested spaces. Much of the artist-run condition of organizations in Belfast also emerged out of a need to facilitate work which wasn’t catered for within the exisiting gallery system – so an involvement in performance, site specificity and non-traditional modes of practice are well established.
Belfast is also closely networked into both UK and Republic of Ireland art scenes and has an international profile with a highly mobile artist community. With its excellent infrastructure access to and from Belfast is easy through its two airports, Belfast International Airport and The George Best Airport, making links to the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe easily achievable.
The city is intimately and immediately linked to its surrounding rural context – the edge of the city is never far away and the city is closely surrounded by the hills and sea.