BY CLAIRE MOONEY
While Ulster Museum is usually a quiet place for visiting collections, on 29th August the museum was opened until 9pm for ‘Making Waves’. Ulster Museum amped up the fun, creativity and music in the space!
Alongside the V&A Exhibition ‘The Art of Selling Songs’ a group of 12 young people came together for an event management programme ran by Reimagine Remake Replay. The task in hand was to plan, setup and run the event within a six-week period. Certainly not for the faint hearted, the participants rose to the challenge! Ryan Harling, a participant on the programme said; “Being part of the team was great craic and a valuable experience I hope to build on in the future. Having 1000 people turn up, we can definitely be proud of our achievement as well!”
The event planning sessions began under the guidance of Rachael Campbell-Palmer, director of Belfast’s ‘The Black Box’. The brilliant staff and know-how of Nerve Centre and Ulster Museum also provided support and assistance along the way. The young people brought in musicians, lights and the all-important action. Each enthusiastic participant brought their own story and passion to the event from music knowledge and graphic design to fashion!
At this late night over-18 event, visitors could come into the space, grab a drink in the Welcome Zone and begin to explore the museum. In the lead up to the evening followers of Reimagine Remake Replay’s social media were treated to a Takabuti countdown and teasers of the exciting events including: ‘Eat Poop you Cat!’ This fun music themed drawing game was held in the Welcome Zone along with the opportunity to star on an album cover with the magic of a green screen and try out VR Gaming, testing your rhythm.
To find your way around the museum at this exciting event, a Spotify trail allowed people to discover fresh music from Northern Irish musicians. The trail linked musicians to various exhibits across the museum, it was a fun way to discover some new music and find your way around! The Spotify Trail, social media posts and printed leaflets were all created by the young event team. Ruairí Jordan, a member of the design team for the event said that it was rewarding to be part of ‘Making Waves’. He said “…every participant left their mark on the final designs and it was so exciting on the night to walk in and be able to lift up our hard work!”
If you didn’t get too carried away in the Welcome Zone and successfully followed the Spotify trail to ‘The Sea Around Us’ exhibit in the Nature Zone; you encountered a temporary ‘Trance Tunnel’ which was an opportunity to forget your surroundings and swim with the fishes under this blacklight, neon wonder! With face painting and glowsticks galore the ‘Trance Tunnel’, and those in it, were certainly not to be missed.
For more reserved music lovers, or for a break from the dance, ‘Mix the City’ was an opportunity to get creative and mix your own tunes. ‘Mix the City’ is a fantastic project by the British Council which ran across several cities. The project paired with Belfast City Council to take recordings from NI musicians which visitors can then use to mix their own music with various artist’s samples!
‘The Art of Selling Songs’ was the inspiration and starting point for ‘Making Waves’ to celebrate music and art. The exhibition held in the ‘Art Zone’ featured iconic album art from bands including the Beatles. A section focused on recent Irish music and labels such as Snow Patrol, Ash and TONN Recordings. TONN Recordings, founded in 2017 commissioned a series of prints from recent Ulster University graduate Adam McIlwaine. An edition of these prints was on display, speaking volumes of the potential for music and the arts in Northern Ireland today as a place for music labels, musicians and artists.
Following the inspiring visit to the ‘The Art of Selling Songs’ exhibition, the Discover Art area of the museum gave visitors the opportunity to get hands on creative. Us Folk and the team of young people helped visitors ‘Make Merch’. This included collaged and illustrated badges to decorative and graphic tote bags! Programme participant Ryan said that “people seemed to enjoy the badge making the most which was also a personal favourite!”
If this wasn’t enough excitement, ‘Help Musicians NI’ the leading musical support charity who work with upcoming musicians were available for a chat and there was an opportunity to learn more about The British Library’s sound archiving project ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’. Three live music acts played on the night. Sarah McVeigh kicked off the live music by playing alongside the ‘Vice-Versa’ exhibition. This exhibition curated by Charlotte McReynolds explores fashion and gender boundaries with statement outfits on display. Sarah delivered a stunning performance of electro-acoustic harp and vocal covers. The talented musician was a member of the event management team and on the programme Sarah had great fun and gained valuable insights into event management. “I also met some amazing like-minded people… The event was a success and we all had such a great time! I was invited to play the harp at the Vice Versa exhibition. This was such a unique opportunity for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
Halfway through the event KwaMe Daniels took to the main stage, playing a brilliant DJ set in the Welcome Zone. Founder of ‘Bounce Culture’ which celebrates music, diversity and creativity, KwaMe created a brilliant atmosphere in the museum and the crowd were excited for ROE, the final act of the night. While events and workshops across the museum came to an end the last of the visitors made their way downstairs.
They were then treated to the end of KwaMe’s DJ set and a live performance from ROE including her hit ‘Hey Thomas’. Only 19 years old, from Derry, ROE has been supported by Help Musicians NI and she’s worth checking out if you’re not familiar with her work! ROE has had some impressive gigs over the years including a spot at Ward Park 3, she’s making strong strides in the music world. The crowd was spoilt for choice throughout the evening and although not a typical night at the museum, waves were made by the young event organisers!
As people reluctantly gathered themselves to leave the museum, they picked up their newly pressed totes, fastened their badges and gave a final farewell wave with their glowsticks. The event demonstrated not only the potential for putting control into the hands of young people, but successfully celebrated Northern Ireland’s contributions to music and art, with an optimistic look to the future!
To discover some brilliant Northern Irish musicians, check out the Spotify playlist created by the ‘Making Waves’ team: Click here!
If you’d like to hear more from some of the musicians and projects involved:
KwaMe Daniels’ project: www.bounceculture.co.uk
Sarah McVeigh: www.sarahmcveighmusic.com
Mix the City: www.mixthecity.com/belfast
Checkout the Reimagine Remake Replay Facebook page if you’re a star in one of our album covers by clicking here.