Northern Ireland

Ulster University launches website with University of Canberra focusing on 'difficult conversations'

Belfast artist Colin Davidson will take part in the project
Belfast artist Colin Davidson will take part in the project


A NEW website featuring talks and interviews that focus on 'difficult conversations' in polarised societies was launched yesterday.

From discussions about colonialism, gender-based violence, homophobia and racism, the site explores the role of art and creativity in a polarised society.

The project is the start of a long-term collaboration between Ulster University and University of Canberra, with the support of the British Council, which aims to strengthen collaboration and research.

Belfast artist Colin Davidson and Australian poet and Barkindji writer Dr Paul Collis as well as Array Collective, a group of activist artists from Belfast who won the 2021 Turner Prize, are among the figures to contribute.

Other contributors include acclaimed artist Willie Doherty, and University of Canberra chancellor Tom Calma, a social justice campaigner and former ACT Australian of the Year.

Mr Davidson, Ulster University’s incoming chancellor, said: "Difficult Conversations is a fitting starting point for the new partnership between Ulster University and the University of Canberra.

"We’re working in partnership with the British Council to open channels of conversation and encourage dialogue on the role of art and creativity in a polarised society.

"Art of all mediums has a very powerful role to play in remembering and making sense of the past and although we are on different continents, I look forward to discussing our shared experiences and learnings."

At the University of Canberra, the partnership has been fostered by vice-chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon, who was a former vice-chancellor at Ulster University.

"The partnership between the University of Canberra and my previous institution Ulster University is an exciting representation of the global opportunities available to us now that international borders have reopened," he said.

"Difficult Conversations will be a great way to showcase the knowledge, expertise and opportunities available as a result of the partnership."

Helen Salmon from the British Council in Australia said: "Difficult Conversations draws from experiences in Northern Ireland and Australia of creativity as a means to explore challenging subject matter and deepen mutual understanding".

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