Exhibitions and Performances



My practice includes performance and mixed media, sculptured objects and ceramics. I often deal with themes of marginalisation, boundaries and relationships, employing everyday objects that have special meaning for me that can also be recognised by the viewer and connections made. 

As I work through the MFA programme at Ulster University I hope to continue to develop and expand my practice through social engagement and public performance.

Upcoming projects include an MFA 1st year exhibition hopefully being held in QSS Studios, Belfast and a Pollen Studios Members Show. 


June 2020, PS2 Gallery, Belfast (Online)

During lockdown many artists suddenly found themselves unable to access their preferred materials and equipment for art making and turned to materials and objects that had in the home. In Pollen Studios we started making small drawings and started a posted conversation between members as a way of connecting and boosting moral. I started drawing and working with inks and water colours, sharing some work on social media as another means of exchange. I was delighted to be invited to take part in the online exhibition 'Homework' curated by PS2 Gallery at a time when the thought of exhibiting work seemed so distant. Along with the drawings , I also had to make numerous repairs to The Captain's Chair, my art/thinking chair that I rescued from the old Orpheus Building that was part of the Belfast School of Art for many years. The seat of the chair was taking many hours more abuse as I sat day after day in my kitchen/studio and needed more padding and patches. 


Mar -Sept 2019, Aug 2019, PS2 Gallery, Belfast

The Expanded Studio Project was a 6 month collaborative initiative between Belfast based artists and artists based at Primary Studios, Nottingham. The aim of the project was to develop external relationships, exchange ideas and explore different modes of collaboration.The project was based on a pilot programme which ran between Primary Studios in Nottingham and Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge in 2014-15 where artists engaged in a period of dialogue and exchange over a four-month period.The challenge this time was to initiate and sustain collaboration across further geographical distance between England and Northern Ireland. In addition the Belfast participants were based across several different artists’ studios. (These include QSS- Queen Street Studios-, FLAX Studios, Array Studios, Creative Exchange Artists’ Studios, Pollen Studios and Vault studiosThrough planned visits to each other’s cities and continued conversations and emails, artists began either ‘partnering up’ or discussing ways that they could come together in groups to find a way to work together through continued communication and find a means to respond to each other’s ideas.What was presented in PS² was not an exhibition of finished work rather a showcase of peer outcomes created through collective ideas, conversations and self-directed activities. The Expanded Studio Project was initiated by Jane Morrow and was jointly co-ordinated by Deirdre Morrissey (Belfast) and Nastassja Simensky (Nottingham). The Expanded Studio Project is funded by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of England. PS² is supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

This gallery of images shows collaborations with two Primary Studio artists.

Zara Lyness & Sarah Tutt

This work was produced only through postal correspondence, initially by postcard, then using single ply veneer and developing into sculpted objects. Steered by misunderstanding and chance, the outcome of the collaboration created an opportunity for public participation by inviting visitors to add to the display in response to the  artists work.

Zara Lyness and Christine Stevens

This collaboration included the facilitation of two ESP artist events. The first event 'Clay Conversation' took place in Pollen Studios where 7 artists came together to discuss the question 'What is your experience of being an artist in Belfast?'. Before the discussion each artist was given a lump of clay that they worked with for the duration of the event. The conversation was documented and the clay objects fired. 

The second event was a Raku Workshop held in Vault Studios. Led by Christine Stevens, participants collaborated at every stage of the Raku process , sharing glaze techniques, applying sawdust for the firing, and cleaning the fired pieces. 

During the visit to Primary in Nottingham Zara and Christine found unexpected similarities in product and process, bricks and textiles. The Expanded Studio Project has developed into a research project combining local and traditional crafts, brick making, Irish Linen and Nottingham Lace. Exhibited in PS2 was the primary studio research work. 

On The Way

Jan 2020, solo performance, Newry Town Hall, Co.Down

Bbeyond proposes the theme and concept of Freedom and Identity, with the potential  sense of Freedom from Identity, to help expand our thinking on Identity. On the Way … Step by Step uses Freedom and Identity as themes to develop a deep  ecology where the role of artists is in promoting creativity as outlets of contemporary  thinking moving the agenda from ego to eco and beyond echoing contemporary  issues. Bbeyond endeavours to engage with these issues through promoting solo and  groups performance art works.  

The NI border represents division and with its centenary looming and Brexit taking  place, Bbeyond wishes to highlight this very important and sensitive aspect of  Freedom and Identity proposing performative ways to overcome divisions, even if its  only a momentary overcoming or eclipsing chronological time. This is arts essential  essence and potential, ‘art as unity’ as Iris Murdock encapsulates it.* 

Performances by:  

Boris Nieslony, Karin Meiner, Nieves Correa, Anette Friedrich  Johannessen, Mari Norddahl, Bernadette Hopkins, Elaine McGinn,  Eleni Kolliopoulou, Sandra Corrigan Breathnach, Zara Lyness

*Iris Murdoch, writing in ‘Metaphysics as a guide to morals’, (p8) “Art makes places and opens spaces for reflection, it is a defence against materialism and against pseudo-scientific attitudes to life. It calms and invigorates, it gives us energy  by unifying, possibly by purifying, our feelings. In enjoying great art we experience a clarification and concentration and  perfection of our own consciousness. Emotion and intellect are unified into a limited whole. In this sense art also creates  its clients; it inspires intuitions of ideal formal and symbolic unity which enables us to co-operate with the artist and to be,  as we enjoy the work, artists ourselves. The art object conveys, in the most accessible and for many the only available

Paper Gothic

Oct/Nov 2019, group show, Framewerk Gallery, Belfast

The Belfast Artist Paper Society (BAPS) took over Framewerk Gallery for a Halloween exhibition. Organised by Sue Cathcart (Mr Horace Papers) the group exhibition presented a mixed media selection of work by a selection of local artists. 

The Halloween theme was a loose link between the works as each artist interpreted the Gothic idea in different ways. All the work had a material connection through paper whether by print, drawing, collage or papier mache. 

The event was visited by the Late Night Art bus Tours leading to a packed house and the sharing of a variety of gins.

Curated by Moran Been Noon

Where you are lost, we are Sídhe | (Project Page), 2019

A group exhibition at Engage Art Studios in Belfast. This was the Engage Art gallery’s inaugural exhibition.

Where you are lost, we are Sídhe features work by artists Monique Blom, Zara Lyness, Ilaria Pellizzaro, Anushiya Sundaralingam, and Ruby Wallis.

The opening was on the 25th May 2019, running until 29th June.

The event included a performance by artist Zara Lyness.

“[This] prompted me to wonder if ‘woman’ and ‘interior’ were synonymous.” Julieanna Preston, Performing Matter: Interior Surface and Feminist Actions

Where you are lost, we are Sídhe is exploring ideas situated between land art practice, traditionally-feminine creative crafts, and contemporary art practice. Each of the artwork presented is rooted to an action that began outdoors. The artists look at natural landscapes and social structures and explore their place within them as women, as artists, as occupants of space. Their actions are different from those of men artists who work with landscape: They do not conquer, they do not reshape, displace, or replace. They place a body or a texture, they harvest to create.


March 2018, solo exhibition and performance, Framewerk Gallery, Belfast

Cinderella Complex
Tread carefully. Don’t put your foot in it. If the shoe fits, wear it.
Cinderella is a story of a girl controlled and exploited by her new family after the death of her mother. The Grimm version involves mutilation, denial and control. The need to fit in ruins some and independence is lost for others. 
Not a shoe and not a foot, these are the in-between traces left after many footsteps. As interactions and relationships mould how we develop over time, their presence leaves an indelible mark in our lives. There is plenty of advice to be had, encouraged or not.  We will find ourselves in unexpected circumstances. Trying to fit in, (or not,) we are affected by external forces. Perceiving ourselves through these reflections of others can influence our behaviour and make it difficult to have confidence sticking to our own convictions. Life is no fairytale


February 2019, group exhibition Pollen Studios and Gallery

Cabinets of Curiosity, also known as ‘wonder rooms’ have displayed collections since at least the 1500’s. They have been used to categorise natural history objects, tell stories about the world and it’s history (sometimes not letting the truth get in the way of a good story) and served to establish a social ranking in society. The Odd Collection exhibition was inspired by the odd collection of favoured objects and the collection of odd objects that find their way into our homes and especially artists studios.
With invited artists, the Pollen gallery was converted into a 'wonder room', with a nod to the history of museum natural science collections and wink to the possibilities of undiscovered treasures.
Participating artists : Aimee Magee, Aisling Magee, Aisling O’Beirn, Alice Clark, Deirdre McKenna, Jayne Cherry, Jenny Davies, Johanna Leech, Kate Ritchie, Locky Morris, Nathan Crothers, Sharon Adams, SInéad Breathnach Cashell, Zara Lyness.


November 2017, solo performance, Glass Box Gallery, Belfast

Solo performance made for the Belfast International Festival of Performance Art 2017 based on the Grimm version of the fairy tale Cinderella.

Basing your identity on your choice of footwear for the day, linking image with identity.

This performance included the reading of the story, removing layers and sharing off the cuff remarks received and overheard. 

Our self identity is influenced by our social interactions, events and conversations living within us, learning about ourselves as we are reflected in the eyes of others.


Ihme Centre Hanover, September 2017

The international exhibition project Boondocks III Hanover deepens the objectives of the Boondocks predecessors and the exhibition Urban Touch . The project directs the gaze into the center of the urban society, reflects on the restructuring and change of values ​​with media works and installations in the Kunsthalle Faust and performative and participatory actions in urban space, while at the same time examining the scope for action of the "public cause". Boondocks III Boondocks III intervenes in the no-mans- land between public and private territories in Hanover's urban wilderness, while allowing access to cultural uncharted territory.

Bbeyond, Boondocks III, Hanover. Massive thanks to Ilka Theurich,Christiane Oppermann and Harro Schmidt for all your work to realise this. Supported by Arts Council NI and Culture Ireland.
Bbeyond Artists: Brian PattersonJayne CherrySinéad Bhreathnach-cashellZara S LynessLéann HerlihyHugh O'Donnell and Colm Clarke


End of Year Show, Ulster University June2017

In Flux (Process and Duration) Glass Box Gallery, Jun-Aug 2017

In Flux, It's all about me   A sequence of 45 Parian porcelain bells exhibited on custom designed steel and glass frames. The bells, cast from one broken mould, are presented in the order they were made. Each bell is unique, creating a series of characters that tell a story of autobiography, time and communication.

In Flux, in limbo 28 damaged Parian porcelain bells contained in a hanging steel, spired frame. Constructed to hang at this specific location, this part of the installation makes reference to the influences, both realised and not, from working in the the new art block at the Ulster University. Linking the inside to the surrounding area, we are currently able to see local landmarks that will disappear from view as the regeneration of the area continues. 

In Flux, process and duration Created from over 200 Parian porcelain bricks cast from rubble from the demolished Belfast Orpheus Building and the artist's home, this installation underwent several re-arrangements throughout the duration of the exhibition. Looking at how we respond to history and events around us, the installation manifests choices, actions and consequences as the work was moved in and around the space, including members of the public in the decision making and storytelling during each re-arrangement.

Process and Duration extended in the Ulster University Glass Box Gallery June-August 2017 included public interaction and performance sessions.


January 2017, solo performance and exhibition, Pollen Studio and Gallery

This exhibition presents the development and integration of work carried out during the 2rd and 3rd years of the BA Fine Art course.  In 2016 for the Sephour 06 2nd year group exhibition at Catalyst Arts, Belfast, I made a small installation of wax bell shaped objects and mixed media. The combination of objects and materials reflected loss and remembrance concerning family heirlooms and traditions.  combined elements of sculptural work and previous performance work. The theme linking the work is identity and that the recognition and reflection of ourselves in others opens a space where dialogue is possible and voices can be heard.
Images courtesy of Jordan Hutchings


November 2016,  Glass Box Gallery, Belfast

November Cumulator - Curator James King

Group Performance

Void Gallery, Londonderry


7th November, 11 artists/11 hours in the Andres Serrano Exhibition in the Void Gallery. Artists James King, Siobhan Mullan, Brian Patterson, Mads Floor Anderson, Colm Clarke, Bea Didier, Marita Bullmann, Caroline Pugh, Cara Park, Patricia Doherty Roe.


This was the 11th in a series which began with 1 person performing for 1 hour and will end with 12 performing for 12 hours in December. The artists will be making individual actions and also collaborating together using materials, objects, voice, sound,  movements and stillness. Intuition, memory, perception :response to others and the spectators presence will be their guide.

ARTISTS: Cara Park, Marita Bullmann, Béatrice Didier, Mads Floor Andersen, James King, Patricia Doherty Roe, Brian Patterson, Zara Lyness, Caroline Pugh, Colm Clarke, Siobhan Mullen

The performance artists are from Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Belfast, Derry and Donegal.

The artists will be making individual actions and also collaborating together, using materials, objects, voice, sounds, movement and stillness. Time will be their friend, enabling processes to expand under the microscope of its embrace. Some actions will be playful , others more task directed – though people have been known to whistle while they work. Intuition, memory, perception; response to others and the spectator’s presence will be their guide. Spontaneity, awareness and presence will sustain and support.

Photographs courtesy of Jordan Hutchings,. Julie Benson and Brian Connolly

Exhibition image c/o Void Gallery


September 2016,  Cumulator - Curator James King

Group Performance

Pollen Studios


 On 8th September 9 artists performed for 9 hours hosted by Pollen Studios, Belfast. Artists in Belfast James King, Christoph Gillen, Jayne Cherry, Jagoda Kiciak. Paul King, Valerie Whitworth and Zara Lyness. Participating in Ukraine, Marita Bullmann.


This was the 9th in a series which began with 1 person performing for 1 hour and will end with 12 performing for 12 hours in December. The artists will be making individual actions and also collaborating together using materials, objects, voice, sound, movements and stillness. Intuition, memory, perception, response to others and the spectators presence will be their guide. Photographs courtesy of Jordan Hutchings.


Curated by Amanda Coogan

Belfast International Arts Festival

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, 2015


Collaboration for a work in progress showcasing early results of Amanda Coogan's research into a new work exploring aspects of Shakespeare’s legacy and inspired by a recent visit to Cape Town in South Africa, which will premiere in Festival 2016

Images courtesy of the Belfast International Arts Festival.

©2021 by Zara Lyness Visual Artist.