Pictured: Participant Shane Byrne and artist Anne Walsh in conversation at Escape into Sound Exhibition

Escape into Sound was an exhibition that showcased artworks produced by NCBI service users in collaboration with Siobhán Clancy and a range of other artists and institutions over  an eighteen month period.  Escape into Sound was hosted at the gallery space Mill Street Studios in 2009.
This project supported by The Art’s Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme and managed by Create, The National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts.



Narrated Video the process of making work for Escape into Sound exhibition

Audience Feedback from Escape into Sound

To download a screen reader friendly version of the press release for Escape into Sound Exhibition click Press Release_Escape into Sound


Description of the Project Process

Our experience hosting the Guided Soundwalk for Culture Night 2009 in Dublin City Centre led us to reflect on whether our arts events could be more accessible to people with disabilities.  Not only did we aspire to provide a physically accessible experience but also put some supports in place that would facilitate participation and promote future engagement in cultural activities, especially for audiences with vision impairments.  As well as showcasing the achievements of the group, our exhibition “Escape into Sound” endeavoured to confront this issue. Participants looked forward to the opportunity to exhibit their creative achievements;

“It’s the uniqueness of it, the experience of doing things I’ve never been involved in before. I hope that people will find an interest in it and that they will enjoy it.” 

“It will be nice to see everything put together, and look back on it, to remember the stuff we’ve actually done together.

At 6-8pm on November 26th 2009, Pádraig Naughton, Artist and Director of Arts and Disability Ireland and Elaine Howley, Director of Services, NCBI officially launched the show at Mill Street Studios, off Cork St in Dublin 8. The venue was selected based on its size and flexibility as well as its physical accessibility for wheelchair and long cane users especially.  The show ran from 12-5pm daily from Friday 27th until Dec 1st with trained sighted guides available at all times.   Information was provided in braille and large print.  Visitors were invited to touch all of the artworks.

The collection of work exhibited included tactile reliefs, 3-dimensional sculpture and a narrated video describing the year long creative process that resulted in their production. A seperate, darkened room hosted the audio installation ‘Ear Canal’ (To find out more about Ear Canal click Ear Canal).  The ‘Guided Soundwalk’ event hosted by the group for Culture Night 2009 was also showcased through narrated video and a purpose-built audio-tactile installation that represented the surface textures of the soundwalk sites such as concrete, grass, marble, wood and brick. One long cane fitted with an audio transmitter was hung in the gallery space for a visitor to use.  The transmission receiver was installed into an ‘umbrella bubble’ that rolled around the gallery floor, broadcasting the sounds it received wherever it happened to be and thus illustrating the system used for the Guided Soundwalk on Culture Night. (To find out more about the Guided Soundwalk click Guided Soundwalk)

A Video Comment Booth was set up for visitors to give feedback facilitated by the exhibition invigilator.  Guided tours by the project participants are were publiscised for arrangement by appointment for groups.  For one visiting group of hearing and sight impaired visitors, a plaster casting workshop was facilitated in the gallery space to fully describe the process of production in a practical way. The outcome, a series of casts of hands is pictured here.

On Wednesday December 2nd 2009 at 12pm, the exhibition concluded with presentations on the process, including feedback from the visitor comments, and a talk by participating service users in conversation with the artist-in-residence Siobhán Clancy and collaborating artist Sven Anderson.   This closing talk was chaired by Pádraig Naughton with summation by special guest Damien O’Connor, Disability Arts Officer of Mayo County Council and advisor to Altered Images.

Despite much publicity and the provisions in place to accommodate visitors with disabilities, only 20 approximately visited the show out of a total of 160 visitors.  The low numbers in general perhaps reflect the trend within participatory arts to be overlooked with the professional arts sphere whilst a common complaint within arts in general are low ‘non-professional’ audience figures to contemporary shows.  Art Of Listening is affected by both of these issues and so the participants proposed to address it in the next project ‘Journeys‘.