Novelist Jan flies the flag for arts and culture in Brussels

Ballymena born novelist Jan Carson.
Ballymena born novelist Jan Carson.

Ballymena born novelist Jan Carson is preparing to fly the flag for arts and culture in the Belgian capital next month.

Jan and singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimy from Coleraine are the latest in home-grown talent to represent the arts and culture of Northern Ireland in Europe as part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Brussels Platform this February.

The Belfast based artists have combined talents to produce a captivating performance of live music and reading.

Inspired by Jan Carson’s debut novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, published by Liberties Press in 2014, singer-songwriter, Hannah McPhillimy has penned a series of songs which she will perform in Brussels following a reading by Jan from her widely acclaimed work.

Jan’s novel tells the tale of a young boy who goes on an epic trek across America - while dealing with the rather worrying problem that he is physically disappearing at the same time.

In addition to the book, which is her first novel, Jan, a former Cambridge House pupil has also written about 200 short stories and, in addition, is also a talented playwright who has had two of her own productions staged.

The first was based on the Ophelia character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and performed by the Fickle Favours Theatre Company at the Black Box in Belfast, the second, ‘Boat’, explores the fear of water as told by the cast of Accidental Theatre and was enjoyed by audiences at the Lyric.

Next month’s events, hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels, will attract an audience that includes MEPs and key opinion formers amongst EU representatives and are the latest in the Brussels Platform series.

A collaboration between the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive Office, the Brussels Platform involves local musicians, writers, dancers, theatre practitioners and visual artists showcasing their talents in the city of the European Institutions.

Their aim is to prommote the culture and creativity of Northern Ireland in Europe.

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Both Jan Carson and Hannah McPhillimy are wonderful ambassadors for the arts and culture of Northern Ireland.

“The Brussels Platform is all about providing a stage for our local musicians, writers, dancers, theatre practitioners and visual artists to showcase their immense talent and to convey the culture and creativity that is inherent to Northern Ireland.”

Gerry Mulligan, Head of Office in Brussels, added: “The Brussels Platform continues to provide the ideal opportunity to showcase our talent on a European stage and to highlight the region’s ever growing reputation as a centre of excellence in the arts.

“I am really looking forward to welcoming Jan and Hannah to the event in Brussels this February,” Mr Mulligan added.