A little bit later than most of the others, the Taylor Gallery on Belfast's Lisburn Road opened its Christmas show last Saturday afternoon with suitably festive mince pies and mulled wine, and I have to say that it is a tremendous exhibition with some great pictures and plenty of variety.
The roll call of artists they are showcasing is second to none with everyone from Vallelly and Shawcross to Conor, Blackshaw, Warhol, Le Brocquy and Markey Robinson.
Some lovely traditional landscapes by artists like Humbert Craig and Hans Iten hang with more contemporary pieces like The Thorn Hedge by Robin Wylie or Black Mountain by Basil Blackshaw. For something even more abstract have a look at Sea Music by Tony O'Malleyis that surname right? or Morning Land by Michael Gemmell.
Also on show is one of the best collections of Shawcross's - both recent and not-so-recent - I have seen hanging anywhere for some time, and of course there is always their tremendous collection of Andy Warhol's, most of which are generally hidden away behind the scenes. There are, however a few hanging in this show, three of which are from the book 25 Cats Named Sam and one Blue Pussy. It's a great show which will run until December 24.
Another place well worth a second (or even a third or fourth) look is SpaceCraft at 9b, the Fountain Centre. The crafts on display change regularly so there is usually something new.
Double Elephant in The Ormeau Baths Gallery - Selected Works from Northern Ireland's Print Workshops - will be open until January 5, showing 48 works by around 40 artists.
Double Elephant, by the way, is a size of paper, 70cm x 100cm, so the works are fairly large and it is a size which many of the artists seldom, if ever, use. A number of the pieces were therefore printed especially for selection for this show.
Printing technique has come a very long way and although the prints include all the recognised methods like etching, lithography, screen and relief printing, most have very modern twists. The subject matter, too, has shifted from the traditional to the abstract and the experimental, with all kinds of great imagery and fascinating techniques.
I found it a fascinating, eye-opening, inspirational show giving a totally new meaning and direction to the term 'print'.