Space Odyssey

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Space Odyssey thumbnailSchoolchildren during one of the workshops organised for adults and children in Belfast last year. Photo by Yanina Metodieva.

Innovative new project allows children to take steps into world of astronomy and time travel


A FUN and innovative new installation and workshop aimed at schoolchildren and members of the public is coming to Armagh later this week.

'Beyond Limits - the world of the time travelling astronomer' is a multimedia installation which aims to use the arts as a way of engaging astronomy.

Dr Sally Walmsley, a creative practitioner, who was the Leverhulme Trust artist in residence at Armagh Observatory during 2015 and 2016, is spearheading the project.

Speaking to the Ulster Gazette, Dr Walmsley - whose interest was in looking at the research world of astronomers - said it is "a fascinating topic" which "brings people together".

"I'm excited about the installation being in Armagh as it is an opportunity to bring members of the public and adults into the museum to engage with astronomy in an unusual way.

"It has been mind blowing because it's such an exciting topic; we all look at the sky, but don't necessarily know what we are looking at.

"Having had a year with astronomers, has inspired me to look harder at the sky.

"My projects tend to be inter-generational participatory using my background in music.

"This installation called 'Beyond Limits' is a soundpoem which is presented like a drama on a stage set .

"The installations last 12 minutes with audio and video and mechatronics instead of actors to tell the story of the astronomers' world.

"This has been a collaborative project. Whilst the overall idea is mine, it wouldn't be what it is, had the Armstrong Primary School, Saints and Scholars and astronomers not taken part.

"There was an Aboriginal artist from Australia who came and did some workshops with us and that was a very unique experience.

"Last year, we took Beyond Limits as part of a TBUC initiative to West and East Belfast and ran successful intergenerational, cross-community workshops.

"We are very pleased to be able to offer the same format in Armagh.

"These workshops run in association with Armagh County Museum and Armagh Observatory and Planetarium sees me and an astronomer working together with primary schools and groups of adults.

"The museum has sent flyers out to schools. We live on Earth, in this amazing thing we call space.

"The workshops offer music and art based activities to allow people to engage in complex ideas by exploring their cosmic address.

"Any questions people have can be accurately answered by the astronomer. Space is a fascinating topic which brings people together.

"The images that come back from the Hubble telescope in space show us just how small and precious our Earth is.

"Apart from the Leverhulme Trust who funded my residency, I am indebted to Professor Mark Bailey who is a great advocate of using the arts as a way of engaging astronomy and the astronomers at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium who made me so welcome and were willing to get involved in my project," added Dr Walmsley.

The exhibition opens on Friday, April 28, and workshops will run throughout May and June, with the exhibition finishing on June 12.


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