Interface looks to the future

The Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design explores the role of art in society

The University of Ulster’s Interface is a cultural initiative which explores the role of art in society, using radical new approaches in art and design as part of a process for healing community tensions and pointing paths to dialogue for other divided communities.

Interface—the Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design—is based at the university's Belfast campus. The centre attracted £9m in funding and is a key element in a multi-million pound redevelopment and upgrade of the Belfast campus.

The director of Interface is Derry born Prof Declan McGonagle, internationally renowned as an innovative curator and festival director, and acclaimed for his development of high quality visual arts policies, focusing on community involvement and experience.

‘We will be engaged in doing research into new ways of working, opening up new avenues of how to link artwork, fine art, design and modern technology and connecting them at many different levels to the community, industry and the economy’, McGonagle stated.

‘Interface has unique characteristics of an international nature. It can make a contribution to a process that is already under way in Northern Ireland—the creation of new civil society. Interface provides an opportunity for artists, practitioners and designers to play their part in a social context and will “bring artists in from the cold”’.

Interface will build on the School of Art and Design’s wide reputation for academic and research expertise in fine art and textile technology processes, some of which have already been taken up by industry here.

‘We see ourselves coming up with models of practice, using visual art and design at their best to provide a platform in often depressed areas of Northern Ireland for shared ventures based on new knowledge and new ways of doing things’, McGonagle continued.

‘Historically, the best visual arts have been about communication not just self- expression. One of the problems in Northern Ireland has been the difficulty in communicating with each other. We’ll be trying to agree working practices that will facilitate dialogue between communities’.