08-2005 Press Releases

Greek artist to exhibit in Belfast
An example of the work of Greek artist Alecos Fassianos that will be on display in Gormley's Fine Art, Belfast, presented by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen's University.
An example of the work of Greek artist Alecos Fassianos that will be on display in Gormley's Fine Art, Belfast, presented by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen's University.

Next month Greek art aficionados will have a great opportunity to see an exhibition of work by one of Greece's foremost contemporary artists, painter-printmaker Alecos Fassianos'. The exhibition will be on show at Gormley's Fine Art, Belfast between 22 September and 6 October.

Fassianos' work is presented by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, in association with the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen's University Belfast, as part of Greece in Britain 2005, a nationwide series of events illustrating the wealth and diversity of contemporary Greek culture.

Born in 1935, Fassianos studied painting under Yannis Moralis in the 1950s and also studied lithography in Paris in the early 1960s. He lives and works in Athens and Paris. His work is typified by ageless figures, often naked and with their hair streaming in the wind. In an instantly recognisable, highly personal style, his work has been described in French newspaper Le Figaro as "dazzling draughtsmanship which is reminiscent of Matisse".

To mark the artist's 70th birthday this year, the National Art Gallery in Athens organised a major retrospective of 300 of his works in oil, while a major book on his work was published in Paris.

The Fassianos prints to go on show in Belfast are on mythological themes, showing figures from myth in modern contexts, exploring Greece's relationship with her classical past.

Alongside his works on paper, the Belfast show will include a special edition of stamps the artist designed on the occasion of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, as well as a series of silver jewellery he created for the Athens National Art Gallery. Speaking about the design of the Olympic Games' stamps Fassianos said: "I wanted the stamps to convey the spirit of sport and victory, not only in the ancient arena, but also in the Greece of today. I have thus painted winners; modern Greeks wearing the olive wreath, looking to the future with humility."

The artist will be in Belfast to attend the opening of the exhibition of his work at Gormley's on 22 September. The following day Fassianos will discuss his work and take a printmaking workshop with children from local schools at the Queen's Institute of Byzantine Studies.

''People might not readily associate Belfast with a flourishing interest in modern Greek and Byzantine culture, but Queen's University has an international and long track record of successful studies in this field," said Professor Margaret Mullett, Director of the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen's, who has been instrumental in the development of Byzantine Studies at the University over the last 30 years and who secured the Fassianos exhibition for Belfast.

Commenting on the Fassianos exhibition, Professor Mullett said: "I am delighted to see this exhibition in Belfast. It demonstrates the commitment to Hellenic Studies of the Institute of Byzantine Studies at Queen's, and the role it plays in fostering closer relationships between Greece and Britain. In addition, we strive to create further opportunities for our students and researchers to bring together their academic findings with examples of creative achievement, and to do so on an international stage. This approach is very important to the future plans for the Institute."

Ruth Padel, well-know poet, Greek scholar and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, will come to Belfast to give a lecture relating myth to modern culture on 26 September at Queen's University to tie in with the exhibition.

For further information, contact: Professor Margaret Mullett, Institute of Byzantine Studies, 028 9097 3817 

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Arabic-speaking astronomers and zoo-keepers talking in Zulu? All part of celebrations planned for European Day of Languages.
(Left) Wendy Phipps of the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research and Una O'Dowd of the Language Centre at Queen's University flag up the European Day of Languages (26 September).
(Left) Wendy Phipps of the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research and Una O'Dowd of the Language Centre at Queen's University flag up the European Day of Languages (26 September).

Can your work place, school or community group come up with a similar whacky and fun activity to celebrate language learning?

With one month to go before next month's designated annual European day of Languages on 26 September, Queen's University Belfast is busy encouraging people throughout Northern Ireland to do something special to celebrate language learning on the special day next month. This year there is a particular emphasis on languages and careers.

The European Day of Languages, a Council of Europe initiative, is held annually in 47 countries across Europe. The local co-ordinating organisation for EDL in Northern Ireland is the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), which is based in the Graduate School of Education at Queen's University.

"NICILT is keen to encourage organisations and individuals throughout the whole community to do something special on the day to celebrate and promote language learning," enthused Wendy Phipps, NICILT Executive Officer at Queen's .

With the support of the modern language advisers in all five Education and Library Boards, NICILT has been promoting the day to all schools (primary and post-primary). Further Education Colleges, universities, teacher training colleges, youth organisations, language and cultural organisations and libraries have also been encouraged by NICILT to plan special activities to celebrate languages on this special day.

"The European Day of Languages has become an annual event to celebrate the linguistic diversity of the community in which we live," Wendy Phipps said. "It will be a day for encouraging people of all ages to start learning a new language, to take part in events celebrating learning and speaking other languages, and to focus on the benefits that language learning brings. Now is the time to start planning for your event.

The special focus of EDL this year is on languages and careers. A range of resources – postermags, stickers and postcards, desktop backgrounds, EDL T shirts – all highlighting the career opportunities offered by even basic language skills – are now available.

"Why not visit the CILT website www.cilt.org.uk/edl  for full details of how to get the resources you could use? On this website there are also ideas for quizzes and activities that your organisation can do on the day," Wendy added.

Languages Network Northern Ireland (LNNI), part of the CILT UK-wide Languages Network, works to encourage wider use of languages for business. LNNI is working closely alongside NICILT to promote the European Day of Languages to the Northern Ireland business community.

"The European Day of Languages is a good opportunity for companies and individuals to take stock of their language needs and capabilities. They can use the occasion to celebrate their success and to make plans to meet their future international communication needs" explains Arthur Bell, the LNNI Officer.

For further information, contact:

Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9097 5320 d.vischer@qub.ac.uk (Wendy Phipps, NICILT Executive Officer, 028 9097 5955, email w.phipps@qub.ac.uk  or Dr Eugene McKendry, NICILT Director, 028 9097 5948, email e.mckendry@qub.ac.uk )

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Queens summer scheme celebrates its 10th birthday
Celebrating Queen's summer scheme's 10th anniversary are some of this year's participants with Queen's staff Maureen Cusdin, Director of Sport and Recreation Services (back, left); Paul Browne, Equal Opportunities Unit (back, right) and Maureen Drennan, Queen’s Gender Initiative (front, right).
Celebrating Queen's summer scheme's 10th anniversary are some of this year's participants with Queen's staff Maureen Cusdin, Director of Sport and Recreation Services (back, left); Paul Browne, Equal Opportunities Unit (back, right) and Maureen Drennan, Queen's Gender Initiative (front, right).

Queen's University recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its summer activity scheme.

 Among those marking the celebrations was 14-year-old Cathal Doyle, from Kilkeel, who has been attending the scheme for the full 10 years of its existence, since he was four.

 Cathal said: "I have made good friends, the summer scheme is well organised and I enjoy the soccer and Gaelic activities best."

 The scheme, for the children of University staff, has developed over the last few years and is now focused on 'FUNdamentals' which focuses on the development of fundamental motor skills like running, jumping and throwing, with the accent on fitness and fun.

 Children on the scheme participate in a variety of sports, concentrating each week on a particular sporting or non-sporting activity, which then culminates in a finale.

For further information contact:

Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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First ever Microsoft Excellence award for Queen's graduate
Queen's graduate Ióseph O Loingsigh, the first ever winner of the Microsoft Award for Student Excellence.
Queen's graduate Ióseph O Loingsigh, the first ever winner of the Microsoft Award for Student Excellence.

Queen's University Computer Science graduate Ióseph O Loingsigh, from Four Winds in Belfast, is the first ever winner of a major national award.

Ióseph won the Microsoft Award for Student Excellence for developing, as his final year project, an innovative Internet phone service for partially sighted people who have difficulty reading text.

Developed in partnership with local IT company Kainos, the technology is also aimed at people who are constantly on the move. The project enables people to keep up-to-date with the latest information by using any telephone to access and retrieve information from the Internet by talking and listening, rather than by text or visual images.

Ióseph was presented with the award and an HP TC1100 Tablet PC at a ceremony on Queen's on Monday, at which the University also received a £1000 donation to support teaching, and a plaque for display in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Congratulating Ióseph, Microsoft Academic Group Manager, Microsoft UK, Kevin McDaniel said: "It was an excellent piece of work and had a number of interesting applications for disabled users. Ióseph’s work with Kainos on the project exhibited a high degree of professionalism and technical knowledge.

"Microsoft is very encouraged by the relationship Ióseph forged with Kainos and looks forward to seeing more innovative projects developed using Microsoft technology in the near future."

Just last week Ióseph took up a post as a software engineer with Kainos, following an intensive interview process, as part of the company's £3.3 million expansion plans announced earlier this year.

Richard McCrossan, Ióseph's Kainos team leader added: "We have been really impressed with Ióseph's determination, tenacity and attention to detail during his placement with us. His technical aptitude and ability to combine Kainos and Microsoft technology to complete a challenging project was outstanding. We're delighted that Ióseph has recognised the opportunities available at Kainos and look forward to him joining our award winning team."

Ióseph said: "I was interested in doing an industrial project as part of my studies and my supervisor, Dr Peter Kilpatrick, drew my attention to this one. When it was completed and I had written it up for my dissertation, he suggested that I enter it for this competition, and I'm very glad that he did. I was shocked and delighted when I heard that I had won.

"It was a challenging and worthwhile assignment and I'm very grateful to Richard McCrossan at Kainos, Dr Kilpatrick and my family for their advice and guidance.

" Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students and Learning Professor Ken Bell said: "The success of this project underlines the benefits to be gained from strong university-industry links, as exemplified by Queen's ongoing collaboration with Kainos Software.

"Ióseph's combination of academic excellence, innovation and initiative make him an excellent role model for our students. We are grateful to Microsoft for sponsoring these awards and for their continuing support for Computer Science teaching at Queen's."

The project has two main elements. The first implements an information reading service that can be accessed by a caller dialling a number and making a verbal request for information.

The second part, which comprises a comprehensive web-based reporting system, was developed to judge the viability and success of the overall system.

The project also won Ióseph the Microsoft Technology Prize for the best project developed on Microsoft Technology during 2004/05 as part of the Software Engineering Project Module taken by Computer Science students in their final year. The prize consists of a medal and a cheque for €500.

The project was developed in ASP.NET using the Visual Studio development environment and provides a VoiceXML-based speech application and a Web-based administration and reporting tool.

For further information please contact: Anne Langford 028975310

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"Come dancing" at Queen's musical extravaganza
Almeida Girl and Descarga who will be appearing at Queen's in September
Almeida Girl and Descarga who will be appearing at Queen's in September

 A unique toe-tapping, high-stepping musical event at Queen's University next month is set to bring the audience to its feet in more ways than one.

The concert, on Saturday 17 September, will feature nine-piece band Almeida Girl and Descarga, who recently appeared at the Glastonbury Festival, and are bringing their exciting blend of Latin rhythms, jazz and soul to Belfast for the first time.

The Whitla Hall gig, organised by the University, the Belfast City Council Active Lifestyles initiative and local dance instructors from Salsabelfast.com and Isis-events.com, is the closing event of Belfast's Week of Dance, and the finale of Queen's Welcome and Orientation programme for new students.

Aimed at the general public as well as Queen's staff and students, the event will encourage the audience to dance to the band's infectious rhythms. Tickets will be distributed free to the first 250 Queen's freshers who book for the event and 100 free tickets have also been made available to local residents' associations.

Queen's Sport and Recreation dance instructors will demonstrate a number of lively dances including Salsa, Merengue, Mambo, Bellydancing and Hip Hop, to give concertgoers the chance to take to the floor with confidence.

'Just For Laughs' comedian Neil McFarlane, last seen on stage in Belfast at the Empire, will compère the evening in his own inimitable comedic style.

Dr Robert Gamble from Sport and Recreation Services at Queen's said: "Dance is important in its own right as a popular cultural and social activity but it is also a great way for people to take that first step towards a more active and healthier lifestyle. The dance demonstrations in the programme will not only enable students and the public to learn to dance but will also introduce them to a very enjoyable form of exercise."

Tickets for the event, which starts at 7.30pm, cost £10 and £5 (Queen's students and staff.) and are available from Salsa Belfast.com (07834518831), or Queen's Physical Education Centre, Botanic Park, telephone 9068 1126.

For further information contact:

Dr Robert Gamble, Tel 028 9038 7661 Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310

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Students to benefit from Management Studies Certificate recognition

 Have you been meaning to boost your career prospects by gaining a professional qualification in management? If so, now is your chance to sign up for a one year part-time undergraduate Certificate in Management Studies offered by the Institute of Lifelong Learning at Queen's University.

The Chartered Management Institute has recently recognised the course as part of its Guaranteed Membership Scheme and, to celebrate, the Institute of Lifelong Learning will subsidise the student membership fees for those starting the course next month.

Students will be registered as student members for the year in which they study and those who successfully complete the certificate are guaranteed Associate membership (ACMI).

As members of the Chartered Management Institute, students will gain from a range of benefits such as access to Europe’s most comprehensive management information resource, the opportunity to network with other managers, and the facility to keep up-to-date with the latest developments through the Study Zone e-newsletter, to name a few.

The Certificate in Management Studies provides an opportunity for junior managers and supervisors to gain a Queen's University qualification in only one year, whilst acquiring and developing the knowledge and competencies necessary for management and supervisory roles. The Certificate will run on Thursdays evenings, starting 29 September.

But hurry, the closing date for enrolment is 2 September and the course is filling up fast!

For further information contact: The Institute of Lifelong Learning, 028 9097 3323


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Philosophers at Queen's explore the movies

Postgraduate students and members of the public are set to relish varied and doubtless intense philosophical discussions around aspects of film culture during a two-day conference taking place at Queen's University Belfast on 19 and 20 August.

The Philosophy and Film conference has been arranged by two Queen's postgraduate PhD students, Stephen Rainey and Barbara Gabriella Renzi, and is being hosted by the University's Postgraduate Philosophy Seminar Group.

"Film is a medium through which much of intellectual interest may be shown, and a great many interesting ideas may be raised," explains organiser Stephen Rainey. He added: "Philosophy is widely regarded as a quite rarefied and inscrutable field, whereas film enjoys wide currency. It is hoped that in discussing the philosophy of film, besides simply enjoying the discussion, philosophy can be seen in a more accessible light since its application to such a popular medium can be seen as both enjoyable and enlightening."

The student conference organisers have attracted speakers from universities around the world, including English, Irish and Scottish Universities, the Australian National University, Tel Aviv University and The University of New Hampshire. Members of an international panel will each present their own take on a personal field of interest within the broad sweep of philosophy and film. Among the topics up for discussion are: 'There is No Paradox of Horror', 'There'll be Sartre, Amphetamines and John Lee Hooker Over the White Cliffs of Dover' and 'Cinema versus Cinematography'.

Barbara Renzi, who also taught a popular course through the Institute of Lifelong Learning this year on 'The Matrix: Philosophical Issues,' commented: "I believe that films represent a vast repository of stereotypical figures that can help us to formulate and illustrate arguments and ideas. On the 'Matrix' course I taught I saw how enjoyable the discussion was and how students were working on such difficult topics as mind-body problems, democracy and scientific utopias without feeling the burden of them! It occurred to me that a conference on this subject could work well. From there Stephen and I just planned the details at a pub (where else?)"

The student organised conference enjoys support from Philosophy teaching staff within the Queen's School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, and has received funding from the Training Review Panel of the University's Research and Regional Development Services.

This conference follows a successful conference run a year ago by the Postgraduate Philosophy Seminar Group that explored philosophy more generally. Proceedings from this are published by the Cambridge Scholars Press - Noesis: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology and Political Philosophy – and it is expected that the proceedings of this conference will also become available.

The conference is free to attend at 16 University Square and all are welcome.

For further information, contact: The conference organisers on 028 9097 3624; or Communications Office, 028 9097 3091

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Statistics published by University researchers on local 16 year olds' experiences of alcohol, drugs and sex

Over the last few years, the extent of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and solvent abuse among young people in Northern Ireland has been increasing. Much attention has also been paid to figures on teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, which are higher in the UK than in other European countries. Health promotion and awareness-raising programmes have been undertaken to tackle issues such as binge drinking, smoking and sexual health among young people.

The latest research report from the Young Life and Times (YLT) Survey reveals the most recent figures in relation to attitudes and experiences of 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland in regard to these issues.

The YLT report, entitled 'Drinking, Smoking, Drugs and Sexual Intercourse - Education and Influences for Young People in Northern Ireland', is published today (Wednesday 17 August). It has been prepared by Sarah Hannaford, a Queen's University Masters in Research Sociology student, who has been working with the YLT staff on this topic.

YLT is an annual Northern Ireland wide survey of 16-year-olds undertaken by ARK (Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive), a joint project between Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster. The report is based on the 2004 data.

The key points to emerge from the research in relation drinking, smoking, drugs and sexual intercourse are:

  • Seven out of ten 16 year olds (69%) said that they had drunk alcohol a few or many times.
  • 38% of females and 31% of males said they had smoked tobacco a few or many times.
  • Males (20%) were more likely than females (15%) to say that they had had sexual intercourse.
  • Illegal drug use was more frequent among males (16%) than females (10%).

YLT was also interested in the education that respondents had received on these topics in school. The survey found that:

  • Respondents were most likely to have received lessons on illegal drugs (80%) and least likely to have had lessons on solvents (65%). 
  •  About three quarters of respondents said they had received lessons on alcohol (75%) and on smoking (72%) a few or many times. 
  • A few or many lessons on sexual intercourse were received by 70% of respondents.

The major influences cited as impacting young people's views on these issues varied strongly depending on the subject. Friends had the strongest influence on respondents' views on alcohol and sexual intercourse, school was most influential in relation to views on illegal drugs, whereas parents were most influential on attitudes to smoking.

Sarah Hannaford, the author of the report commented:

"One of the most interesting findings in terms of future health promotion policies in Northern Ireland is that young people living in urban and inner-city areas were much more likely to have taken any of the substances or to have had sexual intercourse. It was also interesting to see that young people who reported high levels of boredom in school were more likely to report experiences of drinking, smoking, illegal drug use and sexual intercourse."

One YLT respondent in the survey commented:

"I believe that young people today go and drink at clubs because there is nothing else for them to do at their age, until 18. There should be more events for people under 18. I think this would stop underage drinking and drug taking and many people would not need to go to clubs."

YLT Director Dr Dirk Schubotz of Queen's University said:

 "In two weeks' time, the 2005 YLT survey will be undertaken once again. ARK will again invite about 2,000 16-year olds across Northern Ireland to take part, giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard. By doing so, we hope their views will have an impact on policy making on issues that are important to them."

The full report can be found on the ARK website at www.ark.ac.uk/publications  

For further information contact: Dr Dirk Schubotz, YLT Director, ARK. School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, c/o Institute of Governance, Queen's University Belfast Tel: 028 9097 3947 Email: d.schubotz@qub.ac.uk

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"The women of Riddel Hall" celebrated in Queen's exhibition

An exhibition celebrating a unique hall of residence for female students in Belfast and the more than 1,000 women who lived there is currently on display in Queen's University's Visitors' Centre.

"Pioneering Women: the history of Riddel Hall" provides a fascinating glimpse of life in the imposing red-brick building on the Stranmillis Road from its opening in 1915 until its closure in 1975.

The Hall was founded and endowed in 1915 as a hall of residence for women students at Queen's University, by the Misses Eliza and Isabella Riddel, youngest daughters of hardware merchant John Riddel. It opened at a time when higher education for women was in its infancy. It was a cousin of the Misses Riddel, Henry Musgrave, who gave money to Queen's seven years later to found a hall of residence for men (Queen's Elms). The women pioneers who struggled during the latter half of the nineteenth century to achieve higher education and university education for women included Mrs Margaret Byers, the founder of Victoria College, one of the earliest schools for girls in the United Kingdom. Queen's University was one of the first universities to accept women.

During its 60 years as a student dwelling, the Hall's residents lived through times of major upheaval, including the Second World War and far-reaching changes in women's social and professional lives.

Included in the exhibition are items of furniture and other artefacts, as well as photographs, portraits, written records and other memorabilia illustrating the life of female students from the early to the late 20th century.

The exhibition precedes the publication by the Ulster Historical Foundation in the autumn of a book of the same title, by Gillian McClelland.

It can be viewed in the Visitors' Centre from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday until 31 August.

For further information contact: Anne Langford, Tel 028 9097 5310


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Queen's astronomer wins prestigious award to research death of stars

Dr Stephen Smartt, Lecturer and PPARC Advanced Fellow in the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Division within the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University Belfast who is the recipient of a one million Euro European Young Investigator Award to study the death of stars.

A researcher from Queen's University Belfast, Dr Stephen Smartt, has won a prestigious European Young Investigator (EURYI) award to further his world-leading astronomy research.

The five-year award is worth about 1.2 million Euro or about £827,000 – almost equivalent to a Nobel prize!

The European Young Investigator (EURYI) Awards are given to 25 researchers from around the globe to create world-class research teams in Europe. Winners are selected on the basis of their academic and research excellence and their future potential. The funding is used to develop a research team to engage full time with key research in the scientist's field.

Dr Stephen Smartt is one of only two UK astronomers to have won an award. Dr Smartt will be looking at the death of stars, to gain a better understanding of supernovae - the explosions that signal the end of a stars life, creating the heavier elements (such as oxygen and iron) and dispersing them through space. Supernovae are key to many of the current challenges in astronomy. They provide evidence of the accelerating expansion of Universe and hence for the existence of the mysterious Dark Energy which drives this process. Yet very little is known about supernova progenitor stars and in only four cases do astronomers actually know what the star looked like before the supernova occurred. Dr Smartt has confirmed the nature of three of these examples.

Dr Smartt said "In this project, I aim to find twenty to thirty progenitors of supernovae, so that we can study how massive they are and what type of explosion they produce. We believe that the diversity seen in supernovae explosions is due to the destruction of different star types, but at the moment we don't have the evidence to back this up."

The astronomy researchers applied to the scheme via the UK funding agency the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC). Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive of PPARC said "Competition for the EURYI awards is intense and worldwide - it is a great credit to these two outstanding UK astronomers and their host Universities that they have won this award. We can expect great things of them in the years to come."

The EURYI Awards are offered by 20 European national research organisations in an open competition with no "juste retour", with candidates selected on the basis of their academic and research excellence and their future potential. Competition is intensive, with 622 applications received for this second round of EURYI awards.

The EURYI Awards scheme was developed by the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCS) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) to attract outstanding young researchers from anywhere in the world to work in Europe for the further development of European science, contributing to building up the next generation of leading European researchers. The first round of the scheme was launched in September 2003, and resulted in 25 Awards being made in July 2004.

Candidates are selected by a two-stage process, firstly at the national level by the relevant Participating Organisation and secondly at the international level by high-level scientific panels managed by the ESF. ESF’s role in the coordination and selection processes of EURYI is supported by funds from the European Commission’s Framework Programme 6.

Contacts: Dr Stephen Smartt, Queen's University Belfast, Tel: 01223 330803 (NB Dr Smartt is visiting Cambridge University at the moment, this number will reach him there). Mobile 07754 782758 Email S.Smartt@qub.ac.uk

 Dolores Vischer, Queens University Belfast Press Office, 028 9097 5320 Email d.vischer@qub.ac.uk

Notes for Editors The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK's strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four areas of science - particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), and the European Space Agency. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank observatory.

PPARC's Public Understanding of Science and Technology Awards Scheme funds both small local projects and national initiatives aimed at improving public understanding of its areas of science.

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'Sound Live' set to raise the roof at Whitla Hall

Final preparations are underway once again in the Whitla Hall at Queen's University for the 'Sound Live' Northern Ireland Celebration Concert to take place there on Friday evening. A key partner to The Prince's Trust personal development programme based around music, Queen's University is delighted again to host and stage the 'Sound Live' concert that marks the climax of a busy week.

The Prince's Trust Sound Live personal development course is a six-month programme that develops young people's musical talents as well as their self-confidence and skills. The programme starts with a five-day personal development residential where unemployed young people take part in various music-based activities, working with professional tutors. The University is pleased to support it as part of its Queen's in the Community initiative.

On Friday 12 August at 8pm 30 young unemployed people from across Northern Ireland will come together to fulfil an ambition of a lifetime when they will perform live to a packed audience at the Whitla Hall. The young people will have spent a mere five days together on The Prince's Trust's Sound Live programme honing their musical skills before they take on the challenge of staging the live Gig. Not content with just demonstrating their talent and ability to the Whitla Hall audience, the young people will also broadcast their performance to the World Wide Web through live video streaming to the internet.

One young person who has every reason to be proud of her achievements since participating on Sound Live is The Prince's Trust Young Achiever of the Year Award nominee Louise Mathews. Louise grew up in a 'flash point' area of Belfast and with very little confidence or self-esteem she took part in Sound Live. She developed the skills and confidence to take her to the next stage and applied for a Development Award from The Trust to take singing lessons and buy equipment which helped her to get work with a band, record an EP and perform around Belfast.

Louise has since gone on to even greater heights recently graduating in the Professional Acting course at the Gaiety in Dublin. She said, "I felt very proud when I found out I had been nominated for the Young Achiever Award and it was so exciting going to Clarence House to meet Prince Charles. It was an opportunity to say thank you to him too - if it wasn't for The Prince's Trust and the support and opportunities that they have given me, I wouldn't be where I am now."

The young people work together throughout the week with professional musicians to learn about song-writing, improvisation, the music business, music technology and playing live. Sound Live is run in partnership with Queen's in the Community,North Down and Ards Institute of FHE  and Stream On and supported by Bloomberg.

Siobhan Craig, Director of the Prince's Trust in Northern Ireland said, "The Sound Live Gig promises to be a night to remember. What I find truly remarkable is watching a group of young people who didn't know each other at the start of the week come together and prepare to perform live to a packed audience. What these young people share is a passion for the music business, and for many, this will be the first big step they have taken in trying to make it in the industry and finding out about how it all works.

"That's what The Prince's Trust is all about! We're about helping young people to get their lives working. The Sound Live programme is one example of how we encourage and support young people to get the skills, confidence and the opportunity to get back on track."

To watch the live performance go to www.princes-trust.org.uk/livestream


For all media enquiries contact: Mags Connolly, Head of Commercial Development, The Prince's Trust: 028 9074 5454 or  07904894548; mags.connolly@princes-trust.org.uk


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'Star Portraits' artists to paint local celebrities at Naughton Gallery

To celebrate the launch of the Star Portraits with Rolf Harris exhibition at the Naughton Gallery, Queen's University Belfast, on Wednesday 10 August, three of the artists from the series – Martyn Baldwin, Robbie Stuart and Robin Elvin - will set up their easels Star Portraits style for UTV's Pamela Ballentine and BBC Northern Ireland's Christine Bleakley.

Star Portraits with Rolf Harris offers both a showcase for professional portrait artists and a revealing new way of profiling famous people. A celebrity sits for three portrait artists at the same time. The artists have just a few hours with the sitter before returning to their studios to finish their work and the celebrity doesn’t get to see the portraits until they are completed and revealed several weeks later.

The sitter then has to choose one portrait to keep for themselves. Will they choose the most flattering? The most honest? Or the one they think is the best painting? And what will their choice reveal about them?

On Thursday 11 August ,between 12pm and 2pm, there will be the opportunity for the public to meet the Star Portraits artists in the Black and White Hall at Queen's University and see them at work painting BBC Radio Ulster and BBC 5 Live presenter Stephen Nolan. (Admission is free.)

Three of the final portraits painted by the artists will be given to the Naughton Gallery for its collection.

Martyn Baldwin, who painted Charlie Dimmock's portrait in the TV series, studied at Harrow School of Art and after graduating in 1983 went into teaching there. He has won many awards including a commendation at the 1996 BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery. He cites his painting heroes as Frank Auerbach, Stanley Spencer and Ruskin Spear. Martyn describes his style as 'structural' and says: "I like to work on more than one canvas because I'm transferring ideas between the canvases. I'll take the piece that I feel works and transfer that back onto another one of the canvases that I’m working on."

 Robbie Stuart, who painted Dr. Mo Mowlam's portrait in the TV series, is a Scottish-born artist living in London. He studied at Duncan Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and has been painting professionally for eleven years, preferring to work in oil on board. Robbie is an instinctive painter whose work is characterised by vibrant colours and an impressionistic style. When asked about his portrait of Mo Mowlam for Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, Robbie said, "The best portraits paint themselves, I just hold the brush."

Robin Elvin is a self-taught artist. He worked as a builder's labourer and was a promising boxer before he became a full-time artist. He has won the Thompson Gallery Award and the Patterson Gallery Award at the Pastel Society. Mohammed Ali is Robin's sporting hero and Ali now owns some of Robin's work. After his portrait of Michael Parkinson was shown on Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, Robin received over 2000 hits on his website from potential sitters. "I was working literally until the taxi brought me here to the reveal this morning. I can't remember what sleep is to tell you the truth", he said of his experience with the show.

The Star Portraits Exhibition will be on display at the Naughton Gallery, Queen's University from 11 August to 3 September 2005. The Naughton Gallery is open from Monday to Saturday, 11am - 4pm and admission is free.


Notes:At the exhibition preview on Wednesday 10 August, 6pm-9pm,. Christine Bleakley will be having her portrait painted from 6.30pm-7.30pm and Pamela Ballentine will have her portrait painted from 7pm-8pm. Stephen Nolan’s portrait will be painted between 12pm-2pm in the Black and White Hall at Queen’s on Thursday 11tAugust. The featured artists are Martyn Baldwin, Robbie Stuart and Robin Elvin.


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'Star Portraits' exhibition opens at Naughton Gallery

Michael Parkinson, Richard Wilson and former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Dr Mo Mowlam will be among the faces beaming out of the Naughton Gallery at Queen's University, Belfast between 11 August and 3 September 2005. The celebrities' portraits feature among a galaxy of stars in an exhibition from the BBC One series Star Portraits with Rolf Harris.

Star Portraits with Rolf Harris features well known faces painted by professional portrait artists. Rolf Harris is our guide through the painting process, explaining the various techniques and sharing the highs and lows with the artist. Finally all three finished portraits are revealed – and the celebrity painted chooses one to keep.

This exciting exhibition at the Naughton Galleryopens to the public in Belfast on 11 August,following a private viewing on 10 August 2005, 6-8pm.   It showcases all 24 portraits created for both series including Cilla Black, Michael Parkinson, Mo Mowlam, Charlie Dimmock, David Dickinson, Richard Wilson, Adrian Edmondson and Meera Syal.

Presenter, Rolf Harris said: "This is a wonderful series which I think has turned people's perception of portraiture on its head. We've encouraged people who are not usually brave enough, to come into an art gallery. We’ve helped people realise that art isn't for somebody else, it's for everyone."

The works on display provide an insight into the private and public persona of these celebrities:

"I would really like the artists to capture my smile. I don't want to see too much teeth but that is virtually impossible isn't it?"

"The temptation to look at the paintings was great – I nearly got in once but was stopped by somebody that came along. It was asking for a great deal of self control, which I'm not sure I have!”

"I’d never presume to censor an artist, I think that's the joy of this. They'll paint what they see and that's going to be fascinating actually."

The Naughton Gallery at  Queen’s University Belfast is open from Monday to Saturday, 11am - 4pm and admission is free.


Artists featured in the exhibition: Morgan Penn, Nick Archer, Bill Mundy, Richard Brazier, Charlie Wells, Clare Shenstone, Aine Divine, Rob Beckett, Robbie Stuart, Fergus Mayhew, Belinda Eaton, Peregrine Heathcote, Maggie Milne, John Raynes, Kim Beer, Binny Matthews, Rebecca Driffield, Andy James, Martyn Baldwin, Wei Li Zhu, Alfred Daniels, Sherree Valentine-Daines, Amanda Danicic, Robin Elvin and a self portrait by Rolf Harris.

For further information contact:  Sarah Hughes, Press Officer, Culture and Arts Division, Queen’s University Belfast, 028 90971398 sarahhughes0@yahoo.co.uk 


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Queen's student makes remarkable find of Jonathan Swift papers
Pat Miller checks out a book
Pat Miller checks out a book "The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift", edited by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject, Dr David Woolley.

Pat Miller, a mature student studying for her Master's degree in English at Queen's University Belfast, has made a remarkable literary discovery. She has found long-lost documents connected to 18th century Irish author Jonathan Swift during her research at Armagh Public Library.

Pat has found the long-missing fair copy of a Memorial sent to Swift by Archbishop King, on the subject of the First Fruits and Twentieth parts. This document by Archbishop King was prepared for Queen Anne in 1710 to propose that the tythe payments made to her be cancelled.

"As part of a Research Methods module I was taking, archivists from libraries and museums around Northern Ireland visited us at Queen's. As a result I learned about the Swift archive at Armagh Public Library and subsequently arranged to visit it," Pat explained.

"The Armagh Public Library's Swift archive holds six well-documented letters from Swift to Archbishop King on the ecclesiastical subject of the 'First Fruits and Twentieth Parts' and a first edition of Gulliver's Travels, annotated by Swift in his own hand. While I was there, I was shown another anonymous archive that Assistant Keeper Carol Conlin explained had been looked at by a number of academics but that she thought might help my project work.

"The papers had the appearance of a scrapbook and on studying closely each page I found a folded document. When I opened this, it was clearly different to the rest of the archive – and in a different hand. Its title was A Memorial about the First Fruits and Twentieth Parts made payable to Her Majesty out of the Ecclesiastical Benefices of Ireland.

"Further research led me to believe that this was the original Memorial from Archbishop King to Swift, of which two versions rewritten by Swift are well-documented."

The mother of three from Cultra in County Down is delighted with the discovery and particularly proud of the communications she has been receiving from one of the world's leading authorities on Jonathan Swift and his correspondence, Dr David Woolley, who lives in retirement in Australia.

"Dr Woolley was very excited to hear I had discovered the original First Fruits Memorial; on the telephone he told me 'I had made his day'," Pat enthused. "He told me that this Memorial was thought to have ended up in Swift's waste paper basket!"

The original Memorial has never to date been in the public domain and this important find will now allow Swift scholars a new opportunity to consider exactly what Swift changed in his drafts and his possible motives for these changes.

In addition, Pat also made a second important discovery, when she identified a previously unknown manuscript by the Reverend John Lyon DD that is of great significance to biographers of Swift. A protégée of Swift, the Reverend Lyon catalogued Swift's library and during the final years of Swift's life was the custodian of his person and had unlimited access to all his papers. "After studying the manuscript I believe that what I have found is a detailed account of a particular episode in Swift's career that Lyon was preparing for publication," Pat proudly states.

The discovery will form the foundation of the PhD thesis that researcher Pat hopes to begin at Queen's once her MA work is completed next summer. In addition, she has just completed an academic paper on her find, entitled appropriately, The Contents of Jonathan Swift's Waste Paper Basket Recovered.


For further information, contact: Dolores Vischer, Communications Office, 028 9033 5320 / 07815 133 415

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