Royal Ulster Academy and Smart3D team up to open annual exhibition to the public

The RUA is making its annual exhibition viewable online using the latest 3D technology – to help support artists and give the public access to art during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Royal Ulster Academy, one of Ireland’s leading arts organisations, has teamed up with local firm Smart3D to create a 3D virtual tour of its exhibition and its artists’ work.

It’s an imaginative way to bring art closer to adults and children at a time when galleries and museums are closed to visitors.

Digital archive created as well

The RUA has also developed a digital archive to help promote its artists’ work globally. Exhibitions dating back to 2016 have been curated and made available online. The archive as a project will continue to grow, adding in previous and future years.

The RUA holds its annual exhibition at the Ulster Museum from October to January, attracting 78,000 visitors this year.

RUA President Betty Brown said: “The first of May usually signals our ‘Open Call for Entries’ online as artists from all over the world begin to submit work for the RUA Annual Exhibition.

“This year we are delaying the call until June when we hope to be more clear regarding the impact of the Covid lockdown restrictions.

“We decided, however, to use today positively, to launch our amazing 3D tour and archive from the 2019 Annual Exhibition. We ask you to share it widely for the benefit of all.”

Smart3D: a privilege to help artists

The 3D tour was created by Smart3D’s Paul Marshall and Paul Connolly. Smart3D is a division of NI video production/video marketing company SmartVideo Ltd.

Paul Marshall, who also created the digital archive, said: “I had shot several years of RUA media which was simply sitting on hard drives.

“A chance suggestion to Betty Brown led to the creation of the website to collate disparate media in one place.

“However adding the 3D tour has been a multiplier x10 to the site’s relevance as it offers context and environment.

A photo of one room of the 2019 RUA exhibition
“Having worked in arts media specifically for many years, this approach is probably the most exciting development I have seen in bringing art to people and giving them the opportunity to be within an exhibition space, not just looking at a photograph of one.”

Paul Connolly added: “It’s a privilege to help make wonderful art available to a public who can’t get to galleries, exhibitions and museums because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“At a time like this, art – and access to art – is a precious thing. And anything that assists with supporting artists at a time of financial pressure is a real bonus.”

3D tour will help sales of art

3D tour viewers of the upcoming 2020 show can express their interest in or buy a piece of art. This means vital income for artists and the commission helps to fund the RUA.

The virtual tour is from the RUA’s 138th Annual Exhibition in 2019. The exhibition featured 384 works, all of which can be viewed in the 3D tour and the digital archive. The Annual exhibition programme also included extra activities such as  tours, workshops, master-classes and talks.

The main exhibition sponsor is KMPG. Smart3D is now proudly on board as a sponsor as well as creator of the virtual tour.