We are delighted to be part of this wonderful inclusive partnership and to launch this powerful work. I’m looking forward to exploring the response to the art work at our Beautiful Difference symposium in June, 2022.
Allie Walton-Robson, Creative Director, Headway Arts
Sound On! is a creative sound artwork exploring experiences of human rights and happiness for and by people with a learning disability. The sound artwork consists of 3 sound tracks entitled;
I Have the Right (2’ 47’’)
Sounds of our Lives (3’ 51’’)
Listen In (8’ 55’’)
The Sound On! project is a collaboration between artists Dr Sinéad McCann, AlanJames Burns and Saint John of God Liffey Services Ireland who provide a range of support to adults with learning disabilities.
The exhibition is running for one year launching on 14 December 2021 and closing on the United Nations recognised International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3 December 2022. UK based Headway Arts are programming the Sound On! artwork as an online sound art exhibition as part of Beautiful Difference, a project which champions the creativity of artists with learning disabilities, offering opportunities for professionalisation of their work, artistic development, digital inclusion and international networking. The sound artworks is presented on this accessible website welcoming people of all abilities to experience them. A series of creative response to the artworks from artists and other professionals will be hosted on the website during the one-year exhibition, the first of these responses are by Behavioural Specialist Christina Doody and Assistive Technology Facilitator Sarah Gavra Boland. Sound On! is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Artist in Community Scheme, managed by Create, Kildare County Council Creative Ireland Community Grant and Culture Ireland.
The artwork was developed over a six-month period during the Covid 19 lockdown through weekly on-line creative workshops, facilitated and led by artists Dr Sinéad McCann and AlanJames Burns in collaboration with Aidan Winters, Conor Begley, David Carter, David Deane, Frances Quinn, Jonathan Smith, Keith Whelan, Laura Hickey, Niamh Fortune and Sean Winder who were supported to create fun and self-expressive sound artworks. Co–designers Niamh Fortune and Conor Begley worked closely with the artists to design the delivery of the Sound On! project. The composition for the sound tracks was created in collaboration with composer Conor O’Malley. The creative workshops were supported by Saint John of God Liffey Services support staff led by Assistive Technology facilitator Sarah Gavra Boland and Suzanne Cunningham through the SJOG Liffey Online Engage Programme. The group demonstrated many transferable skills including;
- New creative and digital skills
- Problem solving, perseverance, focus and receiving instruction through their ability to record their voices and sounds using accessible sound recording and editing software
- Creativity and confidence while producing their independent and group sound art pieces through personal and collective expression
- Self-expression, critical review and feedback, teamwork, discussion and collaboration skills
Closed captions are available on all of the sound artworks below
I Have the Right
Sounds of our Lives
Sarah Gavra Boland, Assistive Technology Facilitator, Saint John of God Community Services
The Sound On! creative project is a marvellous example of the importance of “creative partnerships” for disability services. The project took the creative skills of the two artists and the willingness to listen to the voice of the participants to create three outstanding sound art pieces. The willingness of the artists to not only say they were going to work with the participants but to have the openness to include two co-designers from the target group from the start was crucial. The three art pieces are closely linked to the Strategic Plan for Saint John of God Liffey services. Three of our priorities are particularly pertinent to this initiative:
Strategic Priority Area 2: Person-centred Service Development and Delivery – Our services and supports are determined and directed by the individual we support to achieve their potential. We supported the participants in this project to share their lived experience through a medium that was comfortable for them to control.
Under the Strategic Priority Area 3: Building Capacity and Relationships, we support, strengthen and develop the skills, competencies and abilities of individuals, families, communities, and organisations we connect with to build more inclusive communities both in person and over the last year online. During this project, the participants and the support staff all learned transferable digital skills, and it opened their world to creative, accessible online tools and resources.
This also leads into the Strategic Priority Area 4: Innovation, Quality, and Risk. We achieve relevant standards of excellence through innovation, continuous improvement, research, design and risk management.
We aim to provide the highest quality services to those who need them and are committed to supporting high-quality projects within our service with community partners. These include a diverse range of projects from innovative research in service delivery to creative collaborations that empower the individuals we support to engage meaningfully in their community in many areas such as arts, sports, education and employment. Despite Covid, the group produced three meaningful and honest sound art pieces that they were proud and delighted to share both within the service and the wider community.
In conclusion, community projects can learn a lot from the creative methodology and process that both AlanJames Burns and Dr Sinéad Mc Cann executed to develop and deliver the final three sound art pieces. These will be shared for their creative appeal and as a training resource for the service as a whole. We want to express our gratitude to both Alan and Sinéad for all their efforts, and we hope to work with them again soon.
Co Design Team
The Sound On! project co-design team members were Sinead McCann, AlanJames Burns, Conor Begley and Niamh Fortune who were supported by Saint John of God Liffey Services Assistive Technology facilitator Sarah Gavra Boland, and support staff member Suzanne Cunningham to work together.
The role of the co-design team was to meet regularly throughout the creative project to discuss and develop ideas and make decisions on:
- the theme and direction of the creative project
- how to run the workshops in an effective and engaging way
- the accessible technology and creative methods to be used to make the final sound artworks
Saint John of God Community Services Liffey Services
Saint John of God Community Services Liffey Services, provide residential, respite, day and education services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Dublin South City, Dublin Southwest, Dublin West, and North Kildare region in Ireland.
In the tradition of our founder Saint John of God and in the spirit of Hospitality it is our philosophy to work in partnership with the people we support, their families, our staff, our volunteers, and our local community to achieve excellence in the delivery of supports to people and to ensure the just and equitable treatment of all people regardless of their diversity. SJOGCS are dedicated to responding and supporting the needs of individuals with disabilities, and will bring that expertise into leading the efforts of user requirements.
Established in 1995 by Frances Castle (Chief Executive) and Allie Walton-Robson (Creative Director) and rooted in the working class community of Blyth, Northumberland UK. The pioneering inclusive company has an extensive portfolio of multi award winning socially engaged and highly creative world class projects which support fuller inclusion in the arts for everyone.
Headway Arts produce and tour quality theatre, dance productions, digital media and visual arts installations, creating across and often combining those forms and working with a team of Associate Artists with socially engaged practice. The inspiring eclectic artistic programme offers accessible projects and platforms which break down barriers to participation, creating equitable environments which support wellbeing, lifelong learning and positive experience. With an emphasis on championing the inclusion of and supporting the ambitions of learning disabled artists and people who have long term health conditions, the work is informed by lived experience of disability and mental health challenges expertise.
Over 25 years Headway Arts has pioneered good practice in inclusive arts and worked co-creatively with over 200,000 people, offering many of the UK’s and Europes most accomplished and emerging socially engaged artists fantastic opportunities to train, learn, grow and develop inclusive practice within local, national and international projects.
Headway Arts’ unique ‘CoCreART methodology’ is at the heart – a people centred model applied across all art forms including: theatre, dance, circus, visual arts, writing, printmaking, outdoor arts, carnival, digital/multimedia installations and film, and furthers their humanitarian vision. This trademark CoCreART model defined by Headway Arts as ‘working together towards a shared creative goal’ has been brought to its European projects for over 15 years initially through the Grundtvig programme and has been a successfully disseminated, much replicated model offering inspiration for groups across Europe, having been awarded ‘Most Innovative Project in Europe 2009’ at an event run by The British Council/Ecotec.
The REAL international artists’ network is co-ordinated by Headway Arts and offers opportunities to international artists. Currently co-ordinating 4 live international projects through Erasmus+ working with 17 partner organisations across Europe and the Far East.
The extensive Beautiful Difference project supported by Arts Council England puts the work of learning disabled artists centre stage. It offers opportunities to professionalise their work, build their creative skills and create platforms.
Headway Arts are delighted to announce that Sound On! will be presented in the culmination of this project at The Beautiful Difference Symposium 14th & 15th June 2022 which will bring together 40 international artists to exchange ideas and further thinking.