Present Future exhibition allows children and young people from PUL communities showcase hopes and dreams
A major immersive installation and exhibition showcasing the aspirations of children and young people from Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist (PUL) communities will take place at the iconic Telegraph Building from January 30 to February 2, as part of the range of events in the 4 Corners Festival.
Organised by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts it is entitled Present Future and features the voices and images of children and young people from East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Larne. The project was supported by the Executive Office through the Communities in Transition programme.
Director of Wonder Arts, Jonathan Hodge, explained the idea for the project emerged organically from the B.A.N.D (Build, Advocate, Nurture, Develop) project group who discussed important issues affecting PUL communities.
“One of these was educational under-attainment and it was felt that this issue fitted well with the overall theme of the 4 Corners Festival – Dreams,” he said.
“Once the theme was agreed, the group participated in creative planning sessions where different ideas were explored.”
A number of the group has attended the Dream Machine event at Carlisle Circus church, which was an immersive experience combining music and the use of light, resulting in the development of a ‘Cube’ installation.
“The Cube and exhibition feature the voices of children and young people from East Belfast, Carrickfergus and Larne who have been involved in the Raising Aspirations projects,” Jonathan explained.
“The younger children talk about what they would like to do in the future, and what is really positive about this is the diversity of aspirations they all have in terms of careers.
“The young people talk more about their own experiences of education and making their way in life. The voices have been set to a specially commissioned score by producer Ryan Vail.”
Other elements of the exhibition include a set of specially commissioned images of children and young people who have been involved in outreach projects delivered by Northern Ireland Alternatives and Wonder Arts in Carrickfergus, exploring their experiences in their community. These images will be projected large-scale onto the wall in the Telegraph Building.
“The project has a number of important messages,” said the Director of Wonder Arts.
“The first of which is about encouraging children and young people to have dreams and make positive choices about their futures.
“Another key message is about challenging narratives and stereotypes about children and young people from working-class PUL communities and about encouraging young leaders to think about different ways of telling the story of their community, particularly through the creative arts.
“The project also demonstrates to children and young people that a career in the creative industries is a viable opportunity, particularly as this is a major area of growth within the local economy.”
The annual 4 Corners Festival will feature a range of art, music, discussion, sport and faith- based events from January 29 to February 5 in venues across the city and streamed online across various platforms.
Dreams…Visions for Belfast is the theme of this year’s festival, and as in its previous 10 years, it aims to inspire people from across the city to transform it for the peace and wellbeing of all.
Jonathan explained that the creative CUBE was a key way to engage audiences.
“We went down the immersive route because we wanted to present an important issue in a way that was creative and that was engaging to different audiences,” he explained.
“Digital technologies are also something that are particularly relevant to children and young people, so this was a medium that they felt comfortable with. We also wanted to create something that was visually striking, made the best use of the space in the Telegraph Building, and created a memorable experience for the audience and the 4 Corners Festival.”
The installation and exhibition is open from 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm each day in half hour sessions.
This project was supported by the Executive Office through the Communities in Transition programme.
Full details of all the events taking place during 4 Corners Festival can be found at 4cornersfestival.com