Weekly round-up: 29 November 2011

'Buddie and Hallie' by Mike Disfarmer (c.1940-45), part of exhibition on now at the Douglas Hyde Gallery

Glad to be back in Ireland again after many weeks of travel (well, excepting the weather today)! Today’s a bumper round-up to amend for my absence!

Following Professor Niamh O’Sullivan’s retirement, the key post of Head of Visual Culture at NCAD has been advertised.

Delighted to see that Justin Carville, lecturer in photography at IADT, has published his volume on Photography & Ireland, which will fill a significant scholarly gap in the field… congrats Justin!

In other photography goings-on… the new show just opened of Mike Disfarmer’s photography at the Douglas Hyde Gallery looks fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his vintage photos shown here in Ireland, so this is a great opportunity to have a look-see.

In today’s Irish Times, Aidan Dunne feeds the rumour mill over new director appointments at IMMA and the NGI: it’s a bit gossipy really, and focusing on only the Irish potential candidates (not all of whom are really credible candidates) distracts from the real need for fresh blood at these museums. More importantly however, he pooh-poohs the silly idea of merging national institutions that’s been mooted *again* as a cost-saving measure.

Still waiting to hear further details of plans by IMMA to take over Earlsfort Terrace for exhibition purposes in 2012… would love to see some really exciting shows there, on a scale that’s not always possible at Kilmainham.

Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian has penned a column urging the UK government to protect free museum entry, a much-lauded achievement of the Labour years that’s under scrutiny as the belt tightens.

Whoa nelly: I had to scrape my jaw off the floor after reading about the launch in rural Arkansas of the ‘Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’, funded by Walmart’s heiress at a price tag of $1.4 billion (yes, billion). Seems not everyone is so impressed…

Woop woop! Boulder Media (a Dublin animation company well known to me & my kin!!) has just won a Children’s BAFTA for its co-produced series ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’. Congrats folks!!

On December 6th Dublin City Council’s Arts Office is hosting a meeting at its offices: ‘Unoccupied Retail and Commercial Spaces – Is this a cultural opportunity for Dublin? An open conversation for Artists, Arts organisations, City officials, Landlords and Letting agents.’ Today is the deadline for registrations…

Calling young (18-30) artists! Sky Arts (in association with Arts & Business UK) is giving away £30,000 each to five artists to help fund their work for a year (disciplines include visual art, theatre, performance art, film, music, dance or literature, and it’s open to Irish applicants). Business to Arts is hosting an information session on the scheme on 14 December from 2-5 pm at the Science Gallery, but booking is required.

It’s a few weeks old, but in case you missed it, Mick Heaney’s article on the relationship between arts and politics in the Irish Times was a thoughtful, very well written piece; I would share his ambivalence over the increasing tendency to reduce the cultural agenda to a creative industries one, and the general disregard/low valuing of cultural activity by our political class.

Rise Productions has recently developed a series of podcasts with Irish theatre-makers (so far featured are Peter Daly, Philly McMahon and Aoife Spillane-Hinks) — well worth a listen!

Building on the popularity of their various pop-up shops (and just in time for Christmas), the RHA is welcoming the Irish Design Shop as a long-term resident in its shop space from 7 December (see press release here).

From 2-4 December, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios will be hosting the Dublin Art Book Fair & Magazine Archive, featuring twenty publishers (Irish and international) of art books, a series of talks aimed at artists/publishers/designers etc, and of course the lovely books themselves!

The NOISE Sounds Music Festival is inviting applications from young performers (13-25) in all genres (pop, electronic, DJ, brass, rock, trad, classical etc) to participate in a series of live gigs alongside professional musicians. The gig’s in February, but deadline for applications is 15 December!

Stranded Aoife’s written a lovely piece paying tribute to Donal Dineen’s radio programme The Small Hours (drawing to a close this week), laced with a bit of righteous annoyance at the lack of quality music programming it leaves in its wake:

There are a small number of excellent music broadcasters on the irish airwaves, but the vast majority of the output is being dumbed down for the so called masses. We’re being target marketed to such an extend that genres and sub genres are dictating playlists, and we’re in danger of disappearing into ever decreasing circles of sameness. It’s getting to the point where it’s rare to encounter music on the radio, rare to have things suggested to you that you might like, instead of things the computer thinks we’ll like. There is nothing more infuriating than programming that doesn’t trust its audience’s intelligence, or our ability to adapt, and the disappearance of this show just adds another nail to that particular coffin.

Still flying the flag for wonderful music — Music Network’s announced details of its Spring season ticket (a real bargain) with a fantastic line-up for the beginning of 2012.

The Ark will be collaborating with the Science Gallery to develop a special ‘artscience’ exhibition for Dublin City of Science 2012, and has issued a call for creative practitioners interested in submitting ideas — deadline is 6 January!

… and if you’re at a loose end tomorrow, pop down to the Science Gallery’s next Make Night on 30 November from 6-8 pm, the casual creative/making sessions that are kicking off again — tomorrow’s theme is ‘Christmas Jumpers‘ — reindeers ahoy.

Weekly round-up: 4 November 2011

Hope Painting (2008) by William McKeown (1962-2011)

Happy Friday! It’s nice to be back.

Yesterday’s symposium at the National Gallery of Ireland (‘Future Gazing’) was enjoyable & enlightening, with lots of folks in the room contributing & following on the live stream. If you missed it, you can read some of the Twitter feed of the event, or check out some of the ‘Ten Beautiful Things’ digital media projects mentioned by speaker Hugh Wallace (Head of Digital Media at National Museums Scotland).

The Arts Council has launched an intriguing microsite ‘Supporting the arts – Stories from our archive‘ that draws upon digitised versions of key policy documents/images to tell the story of the evolution of State cultural policy. Structured across decades, one of the first installments (the 1950s) has been written by my colleague Pat Cooke from UCD.

A blow to contemporary art in the North: Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast has closed due to financial difficulties, bringing to an end two decades of exhibitions & programming. The Gallery was beset by financial and administrative problems over the past few years, and despite earlier indications it had turned a corner, its board has decided operations are unsustainable. This is a real loss to the visual arts community in Belfast, and perhaps the biggest casualty in the vis arts in recent years.

The inaugural VUE National Contemporary Arts Fair is on now at the RHA (through 6 November), with works for sale from most of Ireland’s top contemporary galleries.

The National Dance Archive has been launched at University of Limerick, filling a serious void in our performing arts archival records — it looks to be a fab resource for students & scholars of dance!

The Dublin Contemporary reached its expiration date on 31 October, and Aidan Dunne in the Irish Times penned an extensive and insightful reflection on its genesis and outcomes: highly critical of curator Jota Castro’s own participation in an event he curated, and of the likely shortfall in anticipated visitor numbers, he nonetheless reaches a cautiously optimistic conclusion.

The Glucksman Gallery is hosting its annual Craft Fair from today until Sunday — a great opportunity to start the Christmas shopping early!

A new website for the National Arts & Health initiative has been launched, with lots of resources for practitioners, artists, and others interested in related policy, opportunities and case studies.

If you’ve an interest in the humanities and inter/transdisciplinary digital initiatives: Professor Michael Shanks of Stanford University has been visiting UCD’s Humanities Institute of Ireland to speak about his work in archaeology, pedagogy & new media and his role running the Stanford Humanities Lab and the groovy research studio and lab Metamedia. He’ll be presenting two public lectures entitled Collaborative innovation networks: how to be interdisciplinary (Nov 8th) and What it is to be human: archaeological perspectives on human creativity (Nov 9th) — download details here.

Congrats to Temple Bar Gallery & Studios on winning Best Arts Website at the 2011 Irish Web Awards! Other nominees included nch.ie, fringefest.com, irishtheatremagazine.ie, axis-ballymun.ie and ewaneumann.com (although that last one is a total mystery to me).

We may have lost out on our bid to be 2014 World Design Capital (curse you, Cape Town!) but there’s still time to catch some design action at Limerick Design Week!

Last year I took part in World Book Night UK/Ireland and had the chance to give away 30 free copies of a book I love (Beloved by Toni Morrison) — the new books have been announced for 2012, but word is that applications to be an Irish giver will be different this year (check here for updates).

I was terribly sad to hear of the untimely passing of Co Tyrone-born artist William McKeown. I visited Willie in his Edinburgh studio some years ago while writing an article on his 2008-9 IMMA exhibition for Irish Arts Review (read it here). He was a lovely, gentle and very talented painter; we talked about many things, including our mutual interest in Brueghel — I later sent him a copy of William Carlos Williams’ wonderful book of poetry Pictures from Brueghel, some of which perhaps captures a bit of what Willie’s work felt like for me, too:

The living quality of
the man’s mind
stands out

and its covert assertions
for art, art, art!
painting

that the Renaissance
tried to absorb
but

it remained a wheatfield
over which the
wind played

(from ‘Haymaking’, William Carlos Williams)

Weekly update – 19 September 2011

Back on the grid… and a heck of a week ahead:

The Absolut Dublin Fringe Festival charges into its second (and final) week… I’m looking forward to smooshing in as much as I can over the next few days (and maybe even darning a few socks)!

Culture Night is the other massive event this week – Friday 23 September. The scale of the ever-expanding arts & culture bonanza is truly mind-boggling, and it’s not just Dublin — 30 other regions across Ireland are participating this year. Put on some good walking shoes, plan ahead, and plan for alternatives (since many events get packed out early)!

Nosey nellies will have their prayers answered with the Irish Museum Association’s upcoming members’ trip to the new storehouses of the National Museum in Swords on 24 September. These are new state-of-the-art collections management facilities totaling more than 200,00 sq. feet. Book soon, this is bound to be a popular visit!

The National Campaign for the Arts has a series of key events happening this week: on Wednesday the Minister will be addressing a session of the Seanad (members of the public may attend but must request admission); on Thursday constituency coordinators are meeting in the National Concert Hall to discuss next steps, and on Friday the NCFA is hosting a presidential hustings in the IFI (attendance is free, but arrive early!) Details of all these events (and contact information) is located on the NCFA’s website.

The Contemporary Music Centre’s new music series New Sound Worlds begins Weds. 21 September in the National Concert Hall, the first of eight concerts curated by Siobhan Cleary.

Anyone watching Craft Master on RTE? I’m not usually one for reality shows, but this is a canny way of getting exposure for new craft practitioners (beyond the cheesy Nationwide profile). It started on 6 September but runs until 11 October on Tuesdays at 7 pm.

Taking a page from the UpStart‘s creative General Election poster campaign, Fire Station Artists’ Studio (in collaboration with the Danish collective Kuratorisk Aktion) has commissioned a project and poster campaign entitled ‘Troubling Ireland‘, ongoing in Dublin City Centre until the 23rd of September.

Keep your eyes peeled… Open House Dublin 2011 (themed ‘The Architecture of Change’) runs from 7-9 October; this season’s brochures are scattered round the city & are beautifully designed.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying twice… The Irish Writers’ Centre is launching its Novel Fair Competition on Wednesday 21 September, which will give unknown novelists a chance to compete for big-time exposure and possible contracts.

Lots of interesting board positions have opened up in the North — Northern Ireland Screen (23 Sept deadline), the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (30 September deadline), and the Northern Irish Museums Council (7 October deadline, seeking a Director) are seeking expressions of interest/applications from potential candidates.

The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland have a new website! Founded by Sarah Purser in 1924, the Society still works to donate works of special importance to public collections in Ireland.

MOMA’s increasing its admission price from $20 to $25 — yeowch! Good debate follows in the comments on the NY Times’ opinion piece.

Per Cent for Public Art‘ is the title of an upcoming forum on public art in Ireland on 14 October in Wexford, presented by Articulate (a very motivated & accomplished group of former UCD MA students), and sponsored by the Arts Council, OPW, Wexford local authorities, UCD & others. The keynote speaker is Sara Reisman, director of NYC’s Percent for Art scheme, and the programme of participants looks fantastic for anyone interested in Irish public art.

CREATE (the national development agency for the collaborative arts) is looking for a new director, but they’re also running an upcoming symposium on the Arts and Civil Society at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork on 20-21 October. Again lots of great speakers, although it’s lamentable a more affordable concession offer is not available, especially given the subject of the event.

Weekly round-up: 17 June 2011

Rex Levitates' 'Fast Portraits' upcoming at Project Arts Centre

The updates have slowed a bit with the onset of summer, and this will be the last one until July as I’m off on holidays… however the jobs page will still be updated (lots of new opportunities added in the last few days!)

Theatre Forum knows how to throw a conference — this year’s iteration was excellent (loved Patrick Sanders’ real time illustrations of the action) but if you missed it, lots of photos, podcasts etc have now been posted on the conference website.

Presentations from the recent Visual Arts Audiences seminar held at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios have also been posted — lots of requests for these, especially Una Carmody’s run-through of recent statistics on arts participation and online engagement.

Contemporary dance may not be highest-profile art form in Ireland, but Rex Levitates is one of its best exponents — their latest production (Fast Portraits) hits the stage at Project from June 21-25: ‘inspired by the realistic observations of the true human condition by artists Bill Viola and Caravaggio… Fast Portraits explores the layers of emotion and memory that infuse captured images and transfer them into movement.’ Sounds like it will be a fantastic show!

It’s great to see how Fund It has taken off! A special mention this week of two projects: the Butler Gallery’s book What is Art? is a wonderful project that will publish children’s creative responses to the Gallery’s programme (their Solas education programme, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary). And in a timely riposte to certain Irish Times journalists who say the theatre has failed to address contemporary Ireland — the group THEATREclub and its young members are seeking to fund the production of their show TwentyTen, a six part epic responding to the turbulence of 2010.

The Dalkey Book Festival kicked off today and runs until the 19th– lots of great talks and readings taking place around the seaside village. Events are small and have the tendency to sell out, so get thee to the website if you’re interested in attending!

In honour of Bloomsday yesterday, Imagine Ireland launched a series of interesting and beautifully illustrated ‘imagined’ walks in a series of parks/landscapes in the US which mirror Stephen Dedalus’ peregrinations around Dublin.

Dublin has officially submitted its bid (entitled Pivot Dublin) to become the World Design Capital for 2014. There are 56 cities in the competition, with the shortlist to be announced June 21st! Best of luck (and huge congrats!) to the team involved in the pitch…

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is accepting submissions of interest for open positions on the boards of the Chester Beatty Library, National Archives, National Gallery, Abbey Theatre and Irish Film Board.

Congrats to Colum McCann for winning the €100,000 Impac Literary Prize for Let the Great World Spin! Although the award is based in Dublin (and is the largest literary prize in the world) it’s only been won by an Irish author twice.

Graduate shows from NCAD, IADT and DIT are on now — Aidan Dunne’s thoughtful response to some of the works will be much appreciated, no doubt! — and this is always a fine chance to sample up-and-coming artists; student shows are one of my highlights of the art year.

Dublin Contemporary’s programme will launch on the 23rd of June; lots of work & internship opportunities on offer there at the moment too.

The RHA’s annual Summer Fete fundraiser is tomorrow (Saturday the 18th)! I’m sorry to be missing out on the yummy cake sale, lucky dip draw and other great activities. Now, if they could only find the space for a bouncy dolmen… Temple Bar Gallery & Studios is also throwing a summer fundraising bash with DJs etc (Summer Lightning II) on July 2nd.

That’s it from me for now… headed Stateside to reconnect with the homeland and sample the delights of a west coast summer! See you in July…

Weekly round-up: 27 April 2011

Though I’ve been occupied stuffing myself with Easter chocolate, basking in the spring sunshine, and feeling the glow of two long weekends with a royal wedding sandwiched in the middle, it’s time for another round-up…

Jazz-heads are gearing up for a few weeks of delectable treats — Improvised Music Company’s 12 Points! European Jazz festival begins at Project Arts Centre on 4th of May, while the long-running Bray Jazz Festival is this weekend! Lots of chatter meanwhile on Jim Carroll’s recent blogpost on issues surrounding jazz promotion & attendance in Ireland, followed by an article in today’s IT by Laurence Mackin on the changing face of contemporary jazz. Some of the best gigs I’ve been to in Ireland have been jazz — Tomasz Stanko, EST, Bobo Stenson, and Marcin Wasilewski are a few that spring to mind —  and according to my extra-jazzy husband (who co-presents Jazz-o-rama on Dublin City FM), Phronesis is the hot ticket at 12 Points this year.

Mindfield (the ‘international festival of ideas’) begins this Friday in Merrion Square and runs through Sunday. Though to my mind a leetle on the pricey side (69 yo-yos for a full festival pass, or a tenner for each event) there are quite a few free workshops & family events. I’m a fan of the quick-fire Ignite concept of 10 speakers + 20 slides + 5 minutes, but there’s a whole range of interesting talks and hands-on events throughout the weekend.

Seriously digging the idea of Druid staging The Cripple of Inishman on, well, Inis Meáin. Locals have first dibs on tickets for the 26 July performance (sales opened yesterday to Aran Islands residents), with the remainder going on sale to the public on 23 May.

Yesterday’s Irish Times carried a special supplement featuring the programme for the Bealtaine Festival (‘Celebrating Creativity in Older Age’) which begins this Sunday. They’re also currently recruiting for Cultural Companions, a programme which matches seniors with folks interested in accompanying them to cultural events (applications are being accepted for North Dublin and Cork).

On the other end of the age spectrum, Sheila Wayman in the IT wrote yesterday about involving children in arts activities from an early age, citing the importance of introducing them to arts experiences outside of school structure. As the mama to a 18 month old little guy, I found the list of available activities very useful — with the baby boom in Ireland still in full flush, young families will be an important market & audience for arts organisations for some time…

I’ll be popping in to the Science Gallery’s new exhibition HUMAN+ tomorrow — Director Michael John Gorman recently penned a piece on the Guardian’s Science blog about the show that’s sold it to me!

The Galway City Museum is set to be re-furbished; it will be closed until early June to facilitate work, presumably in time for the Galway Arts Festival in July!

A quirky news item in the Independent last week noted that several roadside public sculptures from Kildare and Kerry have been stolen (presumably melted down for scrap). Obviously this is a distressing issue for the county councils and artists involved — though I must admit given the state of some of our public sculptures, these thieves might be doing us a roundabout favour (pun intended).

Temple Bar Cultural Trust is calling for interested participants for Culture Night 2011; deadline for expressions of interest is the 27th of May.

In an expected but warmly welcomed move, Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan issued a call for interested applicants to apply for board positions at the National Concert Hall, IMMA, Irish Architectural Archive, Arts Council, and Heritage Council. This is part of efforts by the Department to increase transparency as regards governance and recruitment, and to avoid the sinkhole of political appointee-ism that’s plagued some of our cultural institutions. There’s no guarantee appointees will be drawn from this open application process, nonetheless it’s a great step in the right direction. Applications are due May 13th, so get cracking!

The Fundit website’s done extraordinarily well in its first month, raising about 40k! Quite a number of projects have reached their funding targets — but I’d love to see the Irish/Polish Film Project and the Open House Dublin Book Project make it over the line (their funding target has to be met for them to receive any moola) — have a look & consider sending a few euro their way??

The worst news of the past 2 weeks? The closure of the Lighthouse Cinema, after the failure to reach an agreement with the current landlords and the appeal for mediation rejected. I still have difficulty believing there’s no alternative in this case; it makes me physically sick to think of that wonderful facility lying empty. Will this be the final death knell for the Smithfield redevelopment dream?