Rock in pictures at the Riverside

Q. What happens when you have 16 photographers and two video makers plus 30 young rock musicians and you put them together for a week at Bushmills Education Centre?

A. You get a ‘Rock in Pictures Show’ at the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine which provides the audience of local parents and friends with a visual and musical feast to bombard the senses.

The young people came from the North Coast area and as far away as Canada, Connecticut and Massachusetts to take part in the annual rock school with a media studies slant at the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Youth Service facility in Bushmills.

While the would-be rockers rehearsed their own compositions, the photographers took pictures of everything that moved or didn’t and the video makers shot a documentary about the week’s activities.

At the Riverside Theatre on the University of Ulster campus the whole show came together with the five rock bands performing their numbers with a backdrop of colourful still and moving images to add to the creative atmosphere. In between the rock sets, the American young people from South Shore YMCA Camp’s International programme performed sketches and routines for the audience.

Event organiser Eugene Stewart, Senior Youth Worker with the North Eastern Board, said the whole programme of activities had been a learning experience for everybody involved.

“The young people have been keeping personal logs of what they have been learning during the week,” Eugene explained. “Our aim is to build up their confidence, self-esteem, communication and leadership skills. We have had representatives of the PSNI in to deal with drugs and alcohol and socialising safely and we have had outdoor activities at the White Rocks. The Nerve Centre from Derry have provided the Music tuition and Paul Deighan, the Senior Youth Worker for Media and ICT at Sunlea, has tutored the young photographers and video makers.”

Paul Deighan commented: “We have worked in small groups in the creative media using technology to enable each of the young people to build up a themed photo portfolio. We have explored culture in Northern Ireland and the differences between here and the United States and covered everything from young fashion, body image and the environment to ‘planking’ where the subject lies down like a plank on various objects and is photographed.”

The leaders of the North American group based at South Shore YMCA near Boston, Jill Kowalski from Pennsylvania and Shane Sheldon from Ohio, were very enthusiastic about their stay in Bushmills which will be followed by a further week at Woodhall Centre, Kilrea, with its Appalachian trail Adirondack shelters.

“We would definitely recommend it for next year, it’s a really great programme,” said Jill. “We have had two young people who were here last year returning with this year’s group. They are a really great group of kids.”

“It’s been good to see the countryside on coastal walks,” added Shane. “We have been able to study the social and cultural landscape as well as the scenery and leading this group of kids has been a great experience,” he said.