Led by Muirne Bloomer & Dr. Niamh Shaw
In partnership with British Council Ireland & Science Gallery Dublin
Supported by Science Foundation Ireland
Dance meets science in BUILDING SPACES OF POSSIBILITY, which kicked off with a series of pop-up events in public spaces in central Dublin as part of Science Week 2021.
This project from CoisCéim Broadreach in partnership with British Council Ireland & Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, is led by science communicator Dr Niamh Shaw and choreographer Muirne Bloomer. It aims to put climate science into plain words and dream up new possibilities together.
Over #ScienceWeek, to launch the initiative we connected with people as part of their daily routines with a series of conversations and choreographies on and around a big green sofa in everyday places – to explore ways to live and thrive in greater harmony with our surroundings.
BROWSE BELOW TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED:
POPPING UP “ON THE SOFA” IN PUBLIC SPACES…
Dr Niamh Shaw was in conversation in everyday places across Dublin with re-use & recycle expert, Nathan Wheeler, visual artist, Sueann Moore, and special guests including:
13 Nov 2021 | 1pm | Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin | Special Online Guests: Matthew Needham (UK) & Justine Cooper (IRL)
…AND IN THE WINDOWS
On 13 November 2021, Science Gallery Dublin was home to IN THE WINDOWS, a series of live dance performances by Ben Sullivan and Niamh McPhillips. Choreographed by Muirne Bloomer and the dancers, the programme also featured the premiere and screenings of their short film, LOOK AROUND A SEE and STOPWATCH by visual artist Nikolas Ryan (see below).
ON THE SOFA | Contributors gallery
With nine Gold medals for show gardens to date, Paul Martin is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading garden designers. Having spent the majority of his training with skilled horticulturalists specialised in plant physiology, he has established himself as an innovator in landscaping.
Matthew Needham is a multi-award-winning British/Czech designer and artist known for his approach to upcycling and contributions to sustainability within the British fashion industry.
Nathan Wheeler is a generalist maker – from leatherworking, electronics, model making and enormous comic con costumes to more recently upcycling and restoration work.
LOOK AROUND AND SEE
MUIRNE BLOOMER with NIAMH MCPHILLIPS & BEN SULLIVAN
CUPBOARD COSMETICS | Justine Cooper
APHRODITE CHOCOLATE FACIAL
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
“Humans are capable of a unique trick: creating realities by first imagining them, by experiencing them in their minds. When Martin Luther King said “I have a dream”, he was inviting others to dream it with him. Once a dream becomes shared in that way, current reality gets measured against it and then modified towards it. As soon as we sense the possibility of a more desirable world, we begin behaving differently, as though that world is starting to come into existence, as though, in our minds at least, we’re already there. The dream becomes an invisible force which pulls us forward. By this process it starts to come true. The act of imagining something makes it real.”
– Brian Eno (Musician)
Flash floods, dead bees, smelly air – why should I care? Climate change is affecting us all but what exactly is it – this new project aims to put it in plain words. BUILDING SPACES OF POSSIBILITY is highly targeted at young people between the ages of 16-22 who have other things on their minds.
As an intelligent species, humans are always seeking answers to the bigger questions such as who are we? And why are we here? But often, we look for answers with ourselves at the centre. We forget that people are not in charge and the universe continues with or without us. We need to work in harmony with our surroundings, not try to dominate them. Everything in our small corner of the universe is driven by keeping balance. On Earth, we see this everyday, in the seasons, our orbit about the Sun, day and night, the natural world (the water cycle, nitrogen cycle and carbon cycle). Our ancestors knew their place within these cycles of nature. In recent times, however, in the name of progress, this need for equilibrium has been forgotten or ignored, forcing our planet out of kilter.
As Niamh Shaw writes:
“In my work as a science communicator and artist, I have found again and again that we assume knowledge about what people do and don’t know around climate change. Simply parachuting into a project with a generic approach will not close the gap between awareness and action nor bring about lasting behavioural change. In order for there to be a tangible shift in understanding around this topic, we have to ensure that people claim the knowledge as their own, and can articulate it in a personal way. Together we need to make sense of this dense and complex topic and make it relevant to the everyday. And to do this, trusting and meaningful connections are fundamental. Then and only then do we talk about action”.
ABOUT THE CORE CREATIVE TEAM
In her own words…
“I am a freelance art professional with over 30 years’ experience in dance, theatre, children’s dance theatre, street theatre, spectacle and a wide range of community arts in Ireland and abroad. I have a body of my own professional choreographic work and continue to practice as a dance artist and choreographer. Over the last fifteen years, my work has increasingly been more involved with community led projects and as I delve deeper into this area I find that I have a natural talent for forging links between different communities and the arts world and communicating easily with people about what is important in their life and how they feel about art, culture and what makes us all tick generally. I love exchanging ideas and stories with people and I appreciate more and more the amount of personal and professional satisfaction I get from working closely with community groups and individuals. In 2015 I completed a Dance in Education MA in University of Limerick and was awarded a first-class honours. This study added to and enhanced my practical experience and afforded me valuable training and experience in administrative and cloud-based technology.
In 2017, I developed the award-winning Community Arts Festival called Dockers and Demons in conjunction with Dublin City Council, Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre and local heritage, cultural, arts and educational institutions. In 2016, I was lead artist on CoisCéim BROADREACH’s ALIGHT! – A Dublin City Council Culture Company commission, which was a highly successful National Neighbourhood pilot project. I cast and collaborated with the other artists and oversaw their body of work. The project was very successful in targeting the community in the area and also collaborating with educational institutions, groups and artists both professional and amateur in the locale.
This work alongside my experience as Artistic Director of St Patrick’s Festival’s Community Arts projects since 2004 and choreographing and staging many large scale spectacle events from the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics, Croke Park in 2003; Ryder Cup, K Club in 2007; UEFA Europa League Final, Aviva Stadium in 2011 and Laochra, Croke Park in 2016 has afforded me a huge amount of experience in production and casting,
co coordinating a production team, taking responsibility for the delivery of projects from concept to production, managing budgets and collaborating with a wide range of producers, production managers, project managers, creative directors and artists. ”
2019 | CITY WEAVE FOR VELO CITY. The Velo-city Dublin Bike Parade was an event not to be missed. It was jam-packed with music, theatre, sport, culinary delights plus of course a designated UNESCO biosphere!
2018 | WORLD FESTIVAL OF FAMILIES was a very special concert-type event which was significant and beautiful at its heart, celebrating families and their faith from all around the world bringing together with 10,000 participants. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
2017 – 2020 | DOCKERS AND DEMONS – an exciting new festival supported by Dublin City Council, the creative team developed a vibrant programme for the community in the area to re-establish connections with the historic and cultural significance of ‘Oiche Samhna’. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Niamh Shaw has been creating events to promote STEM to the general public since 2013. In 2014 she was appointed as Blackrock Castle Observatory’s Artist in Residence and has been working closely with them for over 5 years sharing her passion to ignite people’s curiosity by combining creativity with science topics. She presents the human story of science, creating theatre shows, public events and contributions to media with this focus. She has set herself a life’s mission to get to space, as artist and explorer and shares her activities (a zero gravity flight, launches & landings of astronaut crews & over 20 EVA hrs as analogue astronaut at simulated Mars missions) to her public talks to families and schools. She hopes that by sharing the human story behind such a venture, it will help us better understand our place in the story of space, and the beauty of our planet. She recently appeared on RTE’s ‘The Late Late Show’ and The Tommy Tiernan Show to speak about her experiences and desire to inspire and extend international partnerships in communicating future global STEM and space themes. Niamh is a regular contributor to prime time national TV and radio, national and local media and has a strong online presence: Twitter (7282 followers), Instagram (2248 followers), LinkedIn , YouTube channel and Facebook page Get Niamh To Space (675 followers). She recently published her first book, Dream Big from Mercier Press.
STEAM Theatre Projects: Niamh has been merging science and theatre since 2011 with three shows exploring this middle ground. Her theatre work has toured internationally including Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Australia and has been supported by the European Space Agency (ESTEC, EAC), Science Foundation Ireland, ESERO Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland, Arts@CERN, Culture Ireland, Dublin Fringe, Dublin City Council. She is an alumnus of MAKE (2011), The SPACE Programme (2011), The Festival of Curiosity Residency (2013), and The Robert Wilson Watermill International Spring Residency, New York (2010).
In 2014 the SFI Discover project created, in partnership with Blackrock Castle Observatory and ESERO Ireland, a theatre show about space, entitled ToSpace which premiered at Dublin Fringe, and subsequently toured internationally from 2014-16, supported by Culture Ireland, ESA and the Arts Council of Ireland.
DIARY OF A MARTIAN BEEKEEPER THEATRE REVIEWS 2017-2018
In 2017 A Hand in Space SFI Discover project awarded in partnership with CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory and ESERO Ireland provided her the time to create a new theatre piece ‘Diary of a Martian Beekeeper’, working closely with ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne and presented at Space week in 2017 and Engineers Week 2018. The work was supported by Culture Ireland’s GB18 scheme tour the show to Royal Albert Hall, Blue Dot Festival and Edinburgh Fringe 2018. Sadly, due to a change in the personal circumstances of the producer and technical issues this tour did not occur but Culture Ireland continue to support her work. Very high levels of bookings for the full run of the Smock Alley Theatre were obtained with average audience capacity of 80%. 65% is the normal capacity for theatre in general. This project, the work in STEAM and its contribution to STEM in society was acknowledged by President Higgins at a special St Patricks Day reception in 2017. Funding support of €20,000 was obtained from Culture Ireland for a UK tour in 2018 as part of their GB18 showcase of arts events to promote Ireland in the UK.
SCIENCE WEEK IRELAND EVENTS: Niamh has been contributing to Science week since 2014, with Art in Mind series, Baking in Space, The Irish Astronauts of 1991 and My Place in Space, collaborating with other centres such as ESERO Ireland, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, British Council, Festival of Curiosity, The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Science Gallery. She has presented workshops (created under the SFI Discover programme To Space) nationwide across primary schools and STEM festivals and in the UK at Cheltenham Science Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Northern Ireland Science Festival and the World Science Festival.
ABOUT BAKING IN SPACE:
BBC’s Great British Bake-off finalist. Andrew Smyth came to Dublin and shared his expertise in combining baking with aerospace engineering. As part of the show, the audience got involved by participating in taste tests, and being allowed to approach the stage to taste all food created on the night. The combination of science, fun and baking worked perfectly, and audiences learned a lot on the night- they heard about Romain Charles from the astronaut
centre, who assists ESA astronauts in planning their special food items. He also shared his views about the importance of food in space, which connected very well with Andrews live demonstrations. EIRSAT-1 joined the event and explained their project with the audience, using a to scale model of the CubeSat made as a cake. The cake made the science behind the design of the satellite more accessible to the audience. The atmosphere of the event
was fun and interactive, and this was due to the great chemistry between Niamh Shaw and Andrew Smyth, co-hosts and creators of this event.
ABOUT IRISH ASTRONAUTS OF 1991:
The four astronaut candidates for final selection to ESA’s programme of 1991 were re-united on stage for the very first time in 27 years. They shared their story which was deeply human and engaging. The event was free and attracted a diverse audience in terms of age, gender and background. Capacity of the auditorium was 400 and 387 tickets were booked for the event. The event also highlighted a story that had been forgotten and was an opportunity to
highlight the varied careers available in the space sector. The event also highlighted ESERO Ireland and the important work it is doing in highlighting the use of space for STEM learning
SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR EDUCATOR:
As artist & communicator, she has collaborated with European Space Agency, British Council, EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, Arts@CERN, RTE, The Lottie Doll Company, ESERO Ireland, UCD, The Ark Children’s Centre, SFI and more. Niamh has spoken internationally at WIRED Live, Space Rocks (ESA), NASA Johnson Centre, Inspirefest, New Scientist, and London’s Science Museum. She writes for BBC’s Sky at Night and keeps bees
with her father.
She is consultant on The Day We Landed on The Moon, a one-off live event for RTE in partnership with Indiepics, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landings, to be aired on July 20th. Her new 6 x30 minute family radio series about the world around us Curious Humans funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will be aired on Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE Radio 1 in late 2019. Her first book, Destined for Space, a science and personal memoir about her quest to get to space is due to for publication by Mercier Press next Spring. She is a member of the 2019 STEAM Advisory Group, convened to assist the DES STEM Implementation Group, the Horizon 2020 HATCH Expert Advisory Board, and EuroPlanet Society’s Outreach Working Group. Since 2016, she has provided Space Humanities activities at ISU’s Space Studies Programme.
She facilitates improvisation and theatre skills workshops with academics, universities and research centres across Europe in effective communication as part of Connect2Communicate, funded under the SFI Discover Programme in 2017. Partnering with CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, ESERO Ireland and Lottie Dolls, Niamh has delivered more than 20 ‘Drama & Dreams Inspired by Space’ STEAM workshop for 8-year-old girls. Using drama and improvisation, the participants learn about the scale of the Universe and in partnership with Stargazer Lottie doll, explore their future selves. She has worked on a pilot project with An Cosán’s Rainbow House child care facility, bringing STEM to 2-3year olds using puppets and Skype.
ABOUT THE PROJECT PARTNERS
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are on the ground in six continents and over 110 countries, bringing international opportunity to life, every day. Each year we work with and connect millions of people, sharing our culture and the UK’s most attractive assets: Education, Society and Science, the Arts and English.
Science and research play a critical role in our work, helping citizens and institutions contribute to a more inclusive, open and prosperous world and connecting local issues to global themes. Public engagement, in particular, is an increasingly important aspect of science and the British Council has extensive experience and expertise in developing initiatives and partnerships which build on the UK’s reputation for excellence in this area. We link scientists globally and encourage grass-roots discussion of science and sustainability issues, support researchers in showcasing their work internationally, work with and develop the brightest new talent in science communication across the globe and engage the public directly with scientific subjects that affect our society. Specific examples include:
FAMELAB INTERNATIONAL: A global competition to discover and nurture the new faces of science communication and support them to share their passion for science with the public – 35+ different countries up to 2021 with 29 taking part in 2020; 370+ partner organisations which have included NASA and CERN; 12162 Facebook page likes; 13800+ scientists and engineers in total have taken part; a total audience of 35600 engaged face-to-face in 2019-20; 738k video views on YouTube and almost 6k channel subscribers.
FAMELAB IRELAND 2014-2021: Dynamic multi-sectoral partnership involving Newstalk 106-108fm, Science Gallery Dublin, Dublin City University, NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University of Limerick, Teagasc, Henkel Ireland Ltd and CPL Plc, multiple SFI research centres and several other STEM organisations from across Ireland (25+ partners in total). Impact up to 2020 competition includes: 680+ competition entries all receiving some leve