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Ulster Future Island-Island

Art & Science Environment & Nature Tech and Innovation Engineering & Robotics
Ulster Future Island-Island
Event Description

Rathlin Island is at the heart of a ground-breaking project finding solutions to the climate crisis, and you have a chance to peek behind the curtain! Please check ferry times for travel, events are suitable for all ages unless specified.

Registration is advisable, for more information regarding registration for events over both days please contact

Monday, 19th February

Step into other worlds with Alternative Reality

  • 11:00, Ebb and Flow Cafe - Family event - with Michael McGlade
  • Step into different worlds with these augmented reality (AR) experiences from Yellow Design! By simply popping on an AR headset children will be able to experience how technology used by the Game of Thrones Studio Tour and Home of Titanic can bring the past, present, and future to life right in front of their eyes. These same technologies will be used by the Future-Island Island project right here on Rathlin, so this is an amazing chance to see what is possible first-hand.

Architects of Change - workshop connecting children to nature through crafts

  • 13:00, Branson Centre – Family event - with Lorraine Holloway, Jenni Jackson Smyth
  • Jump into nature with this fun children’s workshop! With arts and crafts, team activities, and videos it’s a great way for kids to explore what nature means to them and why it’s so important to protect it.

This workshop is led by the Ulster University’s Architects of Change group which aims to put the power back in children’s hands – talking to them about everything from climate change to recycling, and helping them to see how they can help save the nature around them.

Super scientists run through tech innovations – from making plastics from bird feathers to tech behind The Mandalorian

  • 13:00, Manor House – Adults - with Professor Declan Keeney, Dr Henky Melki, Alec Parkin, Dr Kirsty Pourshahidi, Dr Susi Power, Dr Beatrice Smyth and Dr Eoin Cunningham
  • These four talks covering design, science and engineering will fly through futuristic technology used by the designers behind the Future-Island Island project. First up – exploring the same tech used for the making of The Mandalorian, which has revolutionised green screens to project moving images around actors. Then there’s how a neolithic stone axe from Rathlin has been digitised – bringing an object that is thousands of years old into the 21st century – followed by a talk on how science is changing the way we eat. Finally, we’ll hear how the researchers have been making plastics from bird feathers. A veritable buffet of science and innovation.

What’s next? An update on the exciting Future Island-Island project

  • 17:30, Ebb and Flow Cafe – Adults - with Professor Justin Magee
  • Rathlin is at the heart of an exciting project that will take cutting-edge design concepts and bring them to life, for the benefit of the community and Northern Ireland. In a nutshell, the Future Island-Island project will apply the best design-led research to the ‘real world’ and see which are most feasible on a large scale.

The ambition? That this two-year project will find out what works for Rathlin and what can be applied to other communities – through lifestyle changes, eco-friendly waste management options, and a responsible approach to tourism and heritage by harnessing the power of digital technology. Find out more from Professor Justin Magee, Research Director for Art & Design at Ulster University and Principal Investigator on Future Island-Island.

3-minute Theses – a sprint through PhDs

  • 18:00, Ebb and Flow Cafe – Adult event
  • An 80,000 word PhD thesis would take nine hours to present: their time limit is 3 minutes! Come hear from Ulster University PhD researchers as they turn years of work into quick-fire summaries for the public. 3MT® was first developed by the University of Queensland, and is now a global initiative with around 80 UK universities taking part, and this is a really fun way to find out more about the research happening right on Rathlin’s doorstep.

Design solutions for future Rathlin

  • 18:45, Ebb and Flow Cafe – Adult event - with Professor Justin Magee, Professor Tom Jefferies
  • Professor Justin Magee from Ulster University and Professor Tom Jefferies from Queens University Belfast will show a brief snippet of work that is on show in the manor house. This ideation stage of research shares some early work from product designers and architects as they begin to tackle issues raised by the community of Rathlin. The exhibition shares sketches and visuals that are part of a live conversation of codesign with the community of Rathlin.

Tuesday, 20th February

The birth of The Brockley axe’s ‘digital twin’ – bringing a neolithic axe into the digital age

  • 11:00, Boathouse Museum - with Dr Henry Melki
  • A neolithic axe from the Brockley axe factory on Rathlin now has a ‘digital twin’, and you can come see the creation for yourself! The Belfast School of Art has 3D-scanned the axe to explore how digital assets can be used on Rathlin, and Dr Henry Melki, Lecturer in Animation and visual effects, will walk through how it was done – and how digital ‘assets’ such as this can be valuable for Rathlin and islands around the world. Here the ‘digital twin’ will be shown on the ROVAR platform.

Super scientists run through tech innovations – from making music from rubbish to clean food, energy and water on islands.

  • 13:00, Manor House – Adult event - with Alison Gault, Anna Duffy, Jamil Quarless, Dr Edwar Calderon, Dr Sean Cullen, Zoe Gison
  • Round 2 of super science talks! Following on from the first set of four talks on Monday, these talks will continue the design, science and engineering tour of some of the background research associated with the Future Island-Island team. Want to know how your rubbish can make sweet, to turn wool and flax into materials? How biodegradable bags could make serious waves for farmers? How to make music from rubbish? Or maybe even how islands are securing clean food, energy and water? These talks have got you covered!

A first glimpse at tech approaches for Rathlin – see what designers and engineers are cooking up…

  • 14:30-16:00, Manor House – Professor Justin Magee, Dr Sean Cullen, Dr Bronagh Millar, Mark Billham, Dr Cormac McGarrigle, Zoe Gibson
  • How can technology be part of a sustainable future for Rathlin? The Future Island-Island project is looking at how cutting-edge design concepts can help Rathlin, and potentially communities all over Northern Ireland, live sustainably and tackle the climate crisis. This exhibition is the first chance to take a look at what the designers and engineers are cooking up. Spoiler alert – there will be a 3D printer having a go at reproducing a familiar-looking Rathlin brooch…

Felting, knitting and weaving for kids - a chance to learn from fashion and textile designers!

  • 17:30-18:30, Branson Centre – Family event - with Alison Gault and Anna Duffy
  • Have your kids ever felt like felting? Have they been keen to knit? Or wild to weave? Well, now they have the chance to learn from the best! In this fun workshop, fashion designer Alison Gault and textile designer Anna Duffy (both lecturers at Ulster University) will show kids how to create using some of the oldest crafts in the book.
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