Antrim Road’s art landmark closes down

‘Brutal’ economic climate forces family art gallery out of business

By Paul Ainsworth

ONE of Belfast’s oldest art galleries has shut its doors on the Antrim Road, blaming the “brutal” economic climate for the decision.

The Emer Gallery began in South Belfast in the 1980s, but for over 10 years has been displaying and selling artwork from premises on the Antrim Road, with hundreds of visitors each week.

However, last week the decision was taken to close the business for good, and it is expected the distinctive building will be put up for sale.

Eimear Flanagan, whose family ran the gallery and other aspects of the business, including one of the only picture framing services left in North Belfast, said it was a “sad decision” for the family to make.

“The last five years have been nothing short of brutal,” she said. “It’s a great shame that we have been forced to close the gallery but there’s really no other choice in this financial climate. Galleries across Belfast are all feeling the pinch and we simply weren’t able to go on any more.”

Eimear thanked her parents, Michael and Pauline for their hard work and dedication, and for creating an “oasis of culture” in North Belfast. Originally from Glengormley, the Flanagans operated a gallery and antique space in Donegall Pass before bringing the Emer Gallery closer to their home on the Antrim Road. Some of the highlights on display included work by 20th century Belfast artists including William Conor and Gerard Dillon.

“My parents did a wonderful job over the years, and helped a great many artists break into the industry,” said Emer.

“It was a sad decision, but now the building will most likely be put up for sale. I think it’s a great opportunity for another business and would make a great little restaurant or coffee shop. I hope that whatever it becomes adds to the local community in the way the Emer Gallery has over the years.”

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