IT took me to go to Ballymena to find out that the artist Lulu Quinn had originally proposed sound sculptures for the Cultúrlann renovation. The idea was to highlight the existence of Raidió Fáilte in the same building, but as they eventually moved into a building of their own maybe this was foresight.
However I loved the idea that Marianne O'Kane Boal – curator, critic and ministerial advisor – gave as an example of different sculptures and architectural proposals, realised or not, as part of the Sound Space, Connect event held in the Braid Art Centre.
Sound for wellness and sound in art is a niche area. Many people might be unaware that Belfast has a very vibrant sound art community, perhaps because of the existence of SARC – the Sonic Art Research Centre at Queen's University – which attracts students from all over the world to study and research.
The event was held in conjunction with the Sound Healing Spa and as we were introduced by Dr Trevor Agus to the research showing we all hear sounds in different ways, Isaac Gibson presented us with a beautiful gift of research he is developing, recording stories and voices of people in a hospice setting and then embedding them in a wireless-like device for loved ones to keep as a memory.
Rebecca McCullough explained how people on the autistic spectrum might experience sounds and how to help them regulate their environment. Tessa Ann of the Sound Healing Spa, meanwhile, demonstrated sound baths and how different sounds can affect our bodies. She has developed a really interesting programme called the Sound Oracle for children and young people to build mental resilience and uplift with a collective calm and focus. Parents would bring their children with sensory issues to her and she developed the idea from there.
We looked at sculptures that included sound experiences and finished the day with an immersive surroundsound experience from SARC researchers designed to transform you to another world. The audience it attracted was interested and questioning and are no doubt looking forward to seeing how this sound festival develops.
Elsewhere, the Belfast Photo Festival has launched the programme ahead of its June 1 start, so expect some new visuals to take over the city. There is a broad reach of artists from all around the world, with Donovan Wylie of the Belfast School of Art being one of the more local contributors.
Bbeyond member Keike Twisselmann came to the city in the 80s from Germany to study fine art painting at the Belfast School of Art and has been an active member of the arts community ever since, sometimes remotely from Germany. It's always interesting to listen to artists talk as you get a fuller understanding of their motivations and processes. During her talk Keike spoke of the importance of the outsider's viewpoint of the horror of what was occurring in the city at the time of her arrival and her need to react to it.
• It's that time of year when the the Belfast School of Art is getting ready to unleash the next crop of art graduates to the unsuspecting Belfast public. If you have never attended the degree shows they are a great opportunity to view some of the artistic talent we have. Every kind of art form is represented, from illustration, painting, photography, textiles, fashion, product design, printmaking, virtual reality, graphics and everything digital in between. It's an opportunity to find new talent or help people to consider applying themselves.
The Belfast School of Art degree shows open on June 9 when it can be extremely busy, but there is usually more space and time to view it the following week.
•The Royal Ulster Academy is open for submissions to its annual exhibition in the Ulster Museum. Probably the most visited exhibition annually in Belfast, it gives everyone the opportunity to be selected to exhibit alongside more established names. Who gets in depends on the selectors and their tastes at the time. If you're unclear as to how it works the documentary 'The Secret Artists' by Hilary Fennell which follows last year's selection process is still available on iPlayer.
Deadline for submissions is July 17, 2023.