Prof John Storan – FACE Chair – University of East London

We may be in danger of running out of superlatives for the annual conference given what those who were fortunate to be there experienced last week at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). The 23rd FACE annual conference was outstanding in every sense and we owe a great debt of gratitude to all the conference team at QUB both staff and students who did such a wonderful job in delivering a conference of the very highest standard and with such kindness and style.

There are far too many conference highlights to mention them all here and fellow delegates will I am sure have their own lists but a couple from my point of view were first of all the quality and mix of keynote speakers each of whom offered a different take on the main conference theme from their particular perspective. The moving speech given by Mälmo graphic design student Henrik Bengtsson who designed this year’s FACE publication cover and the spontaneous book signing session that followed will stay long in my memory. The workshop and paper sessions I managed to get to (not as many as I would have liked due to my conference chairing duties) collectively brought home and reminded me just how innovative and creative FACE members and their institutions are and also how valued the conference is by delegates in providing a space for knowledge exchange, challenge, debate and networking.

The social programme we were treated to was itself something special with a civic reception at the magnificent Belfast City Hall in the company of the Lord Mayor of Belfast followed the next evening by an excellent gala dinner at the Crumlin Road Gaol. Particular thanks to the Lord Mayor and staff at the City Hall for all their hospitality. In addition to all of this we also managed to raise through the conference raffle £860 for the PIPS Belfast based charity. So a big thank you for their generosity to conference delegates and the businesses and organisations that kindly donated such wonderful prizes.

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