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!

that the Renaissance
tried to absorb

it remained a wheatfield
over which the
wind played

(from ‘Haymaking’, William Carlos Williams)

Weekly round-up: 28 July 2011

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2011

It’s been a while, but I missed ya. Here’s the latest round-up:

First Thursdays in Temple Bar (where cultural organizations stay open extra late) keeps getting bigger and bigger – check it out next week if you haven’t already!

While I was away the Arts Council appointed Orlaith McBride as its new director… still no white smoke on the new director of the National Gallery, however!

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of artist Bill Crozier — a lovely man and a wonderful artist, I interviewed him a few years ago for a book on Stoney Road Press and recently enjoyed seeing his work at the RHA Annual Exhibition. He was extremely warm, funny and generous and we had a wonderful time speaking about our shared love of jazz, among other things! His work will be a wonderful legacy of a great personality and aesthetician.

The Music Generation project is underway (with a coordinating post still open in Co Mayo) and a national seminar to alert folks to further funding opportunities and other aspects of the programme will take place in September and is now accepting registrations.

There’s so many folks looking for work out there at the moment (mucho trafico on the jobs & internships page at the minute) – and if you’ve an interest in upskilling in digital media, and have been unemployed for 6 months or more,  the WebElevate programme (in conjunction with DIT and the Digital Skills Academy) is offering 120 funded places on a series of courses to be run in the Digital Hub.

Lots happening in theatreland… Willie White was appointed as the new Artistic Director of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival to cheers all round! Congrats to Willie – there will be big shoes to fill at the Project!

Meanwhile both the Absolut Fringe Festival and the Theatre Festival have announced their programmes – with Irish Theatre Magazine providing a cheeky breakdown of Theatre Fest stats for your amusement J

The Everyman Theatre in Cork has also made a major appointment in its new Director Michael Barker-Caven, relocating to the People’s Republic from the UK.

I was delighted to see Thisispopbaby’s production Alice in Funderland is part of the Abbey’s schedule for 2012 – I missed its original staging and heard rave reviews, so it’s great to see there’ll be a second chance!

One great session at the recent Theatre Forum conference was led by John Deely on career management in the arts; he recently forwarded a useful e-workbook on to participants that might be of interest to many readers – it can be downloaded here.

The Guardian recently featured a polemic blog post on lack of women working in UK theatre – many of the comments are actually better (and more focused) than the original posting, but it makes for a really interesting read.

Festival season is in full swing and this weekend (and my family!) will see the Spraoi in Waterford, the international Street Fair festival. Lots happening over the bank holiday, but The Reich Effect weekend programme (celebrating the work of composer Steve Reich) at the Cork Opera House looks like another great bet if you’re down south.

Open House Dublin 2011 is looking for volunteers! It takes place from 7-9 October and is a fantastic event – have a look at their flier if you have time & energy to spare!

Over my holidays I read with some bemusement further articles on the ambition to turn Bank of Ireland’s College Green premises into a literary/cultural centre (a move strongly rebuffed by the bank) – an Irish Times editorial from a few weeks back offers the sage advice to consider the failure to establish a national opera company and the stagnation of plans to move/expand the Abbey and the National Concert Hall before plowing ahead with another ill-advised capital project.

However I was extremely pleased to hear the Irish Georgian Society has acquired the former Dublin Civic Museum for its new premises and plans to embark on a restoration of the building; we’ve a close relationship in the School with the GS and wish them the best with their snazzy new digs! It’s wonderful to have new life breathed into such an important city space.

The Irish Writers’ Centre is launching a new initiative in its ‘Novel Fair’ event, which invites first-time authors to submit anonymous work to be considered by a judging panel of folks from the publishing industry, and have the opportunity to meet directly with publishers and agents. It sounds like an unmissable opportunity for new writers; the submission deadline is November 11th.

Audiences Northern Ireland has re-launched its website – fancy!

Putting my board member hat on… the Irish Museums Association is seeking contributions (both articles and exhibition/book reviews) to this year’s journal Museum Ireland, the only publication in the country devoted to articles and discussion of museum-related matters. Send ‘em in!

I’m looking forward to seeing the latest exhibition at IMMA of photographs from the David Kronn collection – he’s promised his collection to IMMA, and it looks like a great chance to get a peek at a marvelous private collection.

Dublin-based Irish visual artist Al Freney has had one of his works selected for the prestigious BP Portrait Awards, hosted annually by the National Portrait Gallery in London – congrats! Here’s a press release if you’re interested to know more…

Weekly round-up: 1 June 2011

March 1966 - the theft of Nelson's head (image from the Evening Press)

Last night on the telly Whose Art is It Anyway? hosted by Joe Duffy explored public art in Ireland (catch it on RTE player). I found it disappointing and very narrow in its coverage of the range of work produced across the country, though people keep telling me I should be grateful they had any programme on the subject at all. Balderdash — we should (and I do!) expect more from our national broadcaster.

Still on the public art tip — on the back of last night’s programme I was sent a link to artist Sean Lynch’s online piece on a few of Dublin’s dismantled public monuments (written to accompany his public artwork Me Jewel & Darlin’) — some fantastic images there (including the one above)!

Although I missed the Queen in Cork, a visit to the new Triskel Arts Centre more than compensated — a beautiful exhibition by Vivienne Roche was there consisting of drawings, photographs, projections and some delicate glass pieces — we also ogled the new Christchurch performance space (fab!!) and envied folks attending the Cork Midsummer Festival (11-26 June) who will be able to see Laurie Anderson and Brad Meldhau there (in addition to the other great acts on the programme). We wrapped up the weekend with a wet and windy visit to the Glucksman Gallery at UCC , and finally a trip to Lismore Castle Arts in Waterford. LCA is such a stunning day out — wonderful art space, amazing gardens and public sculptures (missed the David Nash piece last time I was there, and the temp installation by Richard Wright was groovy). They’ve now taken over a small disused church in the village centre (St Carthage Hall) where we viewed a hypnotic and lyrical video piece by Martin Healy — one of the best days out we’ve had in a while (and even my toddler loved it)!

The Irish Pavilion at the 54th annual Venice Biennale featuring artist Corban Walker is opening to the public on 4 June. Looks like a stunning installation — I’m looking forward to hearing back from the lucky ducks headed over this summer.

The juggernaut that is Imagine Ireland rolls onward, with the new programme launched in the wake of Obama’s visit to Ireland (that’s me! By the Thomas Davis Statue! Did you see me waving Barack??) Plaudits for the management, scope and delivery of this initiative have been loud & plentiful — it is probably the most significant cultural initiative of the last year, and a major achievement for the lean machine that is Culture Ireland.

The programme for the 2011 PhotoIreland festival (now in its second iteration) has been announced. Aside from the great list of exhibitions & talks, I’m hankering after the workshops teaching collodion photography & other 19th c techniques (I have a weakness for 19th c. photography, especially stereoscopy!)

The unresolved saga of opera in Ireland continues with the news that the ‘Irish National Opera Company’ has been wrapped up; it was meant to be filling the shoes of dearly departed Opera Ireland, and pushing forward the production of operas nationwide. Although the remit for opera has now been returned to the Arts Council, it’s unclear who (if anyone) will be picking up the gauntlet.

Following on from two recent conferences on museums & new technology attended by lots of Irish folk (MuseumNext and Rethinking Technology in Museums) — a backlash against social media ‘gurus’ here and here?

The recent session in TBG&S on the subject of visual arts audience development was very interesting (especially the presentation from Pete Gomori, the Tate’s marketing manager ) — what also intrigued was the proportion of the day devoted to discussions of social media. A few days later Una Carmody from Arts Audiences summarised some of the latest data about Irish social media usage – lots of interesting tidbits there (84% of Irish internet users utilize social media, for example).

The RHA’s annual show is on — always one of my favourite arts outings of the year!

Tickets for the Dublin Contemporary have also gone on sale.

Next week is Theatre Forum’s annual conference! More than 250 people already signed up to attend — including me! Meanwhile the conference blog has been posting interesting links (on the recent report from Edinburgh on its festivals’ economic impact, which uses metrics beyond the hackneyed multiplier — Anne Bonnar’s blog has additional commentary).

‘The Art Books of Henri Matisse’ has opened at the Chester Beatty Library — I’ve written a piece on the exhibition for forthcoming Irish Arts Review as well — a great chance to see some brilliant, rarely-exhibited works in Ireland.

IMMA’s left its difficult teenage years behind… a full day of events took place on May 27th for their 20th birthday, but the celebrations continue with their exhibition Twenty, and the Forbidden Fruit festival this weekend (not sponsored by IMMA, but taking place on their grounds).

Finally… on 12 June the Dublin City Gallery – The Hugh Lane will be hosting a public conversation with feminist art icon Judy Chicago — bound to be packed, so get there early!

Weekly round-up: 16 May 2011

I’m late this week (or early, depending on your perspective), but exam marking is finished for the year – woo hoo! Lots on the wire over the past few days (and not all Eurovision or Queen-related):

Most intriguing was the news at the weekend that the state is keen to take back Bank of Ireland’s College Green buildings ‘for cultural uses’ on foot of its bailout arrangements with the bank. Apparently the Minister wishes to turn the historic building into a ‘tourist attraction’ of some kind: ‘His plans, which are at a preliminary stage, envisage the conversion of the building into a centre celebrating Dublin’s literary heritage, incorporating an exhibition space and reading rooms as well as a cafe and meeting rooms. Mr Deenihan’s spokeswoman said he was examining a number of venues for a “world literature centre”, but that no decision had been taken yet on a location.’ An interesting proposal — but can or will the government actually stump up for such a large potential development? Such ‘grand gestures’ of the capital kind have been a feature of every government, but it’s the ongoing investment in the arts (and provision of programming, administrative overhead, etc) that’s proven more difficult to source over the years. It will take some delicate negotiation to ensure such a project doesn’t wind up another white elephant, another unsustainable or irrelevant ‘arts centre’, or a further drain on already meagre resources. And frankly, publishing a range of fairly daft public suggestions  in the Irish Times (eh, they’re not knocking it down, folks) — and the short-term memories which appear to have forgotten there WAS an arts centre there until recently! — isn’t quite the discussion this project needs. The prospect exercises me greatly because in my view, this is the most magnificent civic complex in Dublin city centre, and we haven’t a great history of being sympathetic to our architectural heritage.

In further NAMA-related developments, the National Gallery is receiving the gift of a Lavery painting ‘Return from Market’ (cheeky choice!) as a thank-you from the agency for storing works to be resold from Derek Quinlan’s collection. The rest of the collection is supposedly being offered first to the NGI/IMMA/OPW (although their acquisition budgets are tiny, so I’m not sure how this will pan out!) before going to public auction. Note to NAMA: I have a very secure, dry attic, and a Roderic O’Conor would do nicely for our living room wall.

Dublin Dance Festival began on Friday, and continues until May 28th. I’m quite taken with the description of Hiroaki Umeda’s Haptic & Adapting for Distortion (and the graphics remind me of a Peter Kogler exhibition I saw at MUMOK some years ago – most groovous).

Today the National Campaign for the Arts coordinated a series of 40+ ‘meet & greets’ between arts folks and local TDs — Tania Banotti (head of Theatre Forum) was likewise recently profiled in the Irish Times on her involvement with the campaign. It’s great to see ongoing enthusiasm for the campaign — and significant fundraising achieved for their efforts.

Temple Bar Gallery & Studios recently launched its new website — very snazzy — and I’m looking forward to attending their symposium on Visual Arts Audiences on Wednesday.

The Irish Architecture Foundation has launched Architecture Tours Ireland, offering five new ongoing public tours: ‘Dublin Docklands’,’Georgian Dublin’, ‘Temple Bar’, ‘The Living City’, ‘Children’s Activity Tour’. Hopefully they’ll find great success with this initiative; with so much fascinating architectural history condensed in the city centre, it seems a natural fit!

Good news that imprisoned Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei was finally allowed a family visit, although his situation still looks far from encouraging — the amount of public pressure and denouncement of his detention has been quite astonishing, and the Chinese government’s lack of response even more so.

The Contemporary Music Centre will be staging its last new music salon until the fall — the final performance on 25 May sounds intriguing:  ‘a music theatre piece based on the diaries and poetry of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Bill Manhire’.

I received a link today to a new blog focused on studio visits throughout Ireland — From the studio of… — sounds like a great idea, and a promising theme — I’ve got ya bookmarked!

Loughlin Deegan will be leaving the helm of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival to take up the juicy post of Director of the Lir, the new national academy for the performing arts envisaged as the RADA of Ireland.

Gemma Tipton in today’s Irish Times wrote on grassroots/artist-led initiatives in a time of recession (a subject of one of last year’s MA theses, and another this year as well) — in related news the collectively-run space The Complex avoided eviction in the ill-starred Smithfield development this week thanks to the intervention of Minister Deenihan, as reported in Le Cool.

And finally… big congrats to Jessica Fuller, who’s currently upgrading her MA with us — she was the driving force behind the first project to be awarded funding under the National Music Education Programme — known as ‘Music Generation‘ (sponsored by U2 and the Ireland Funds and managed by Music Network), the most important scheme funding music education in the country. Three years of development are now ahead for the Sligo Music Education Programme (SMEP) in partnership with Music Generation — looking forward to great things ahead!

I’m off this weekend to visit Cork, avoid the Queen and check out new stuff at the Glucksman, Triskel and Lismore Castle Arts — may not be back with another update until next week, so behave yourselves in the meantime.

Weekly round-up: 14 April 2011

The good folks at Arts Audiences were kind enough to give me a preview of their new online training programme (fully launched on Tuesday!) on digital arts marketing — the skinny is that this is a cost-effective (€20 for each module or €95 for all seven) and focused way for folks to up-skill in the following areas:

Search Engine Optimisation ~ Beginners
Search Engine Optimisation ~ Advanced
Best Practice Web Design
Web Analytics
Social Media Marketing
Online Advertising
Email Marketing
Universal Access

Funded by the Arts Council, Temple Bar Cultural Trust and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, it’s delivered by Susan Hallam and includes case studies of the ABSOLUT Fringe Festival, the Abbey, Balor Arts Centre in Donegal, Éigse Carlow Arts Festival, and the National Concert Hall. This looks to be a great resource for enhancing your online chops; other offerings from Arts Audiences have been jumped on like office candy, so let me know if you’re liking the look of these too…

Business to Arts also held a reception Tuesday night to mark the many new initiatives they’ve recently launched — Fundit (which just had its first project reach 100% funding), New Stream Project, Arts Fund for Ireland, etc. Culture Minister Deenihan was also on hand to say a few words — my notes from his short speech read ‘cultural broker’ ‘private philanthropy’ and ‘Kerry’ (the first two refer to the aspects of his pre-election Arts Plan that have been identified as objectives for the new department; the third was the term of highest spoken frequency). The BtoA core team of Stuart, Rowena and Andrew have done amazing work over the past few years and deserve all the kudos coming their way! I was delighted as well to see Mason Hayes & Curran’s lovely collection of artworks in their offices — particularly the Corban Walker piece in the atrium (he’s the next featured artist for the Irish Pavilion at Venice) and the Rowena Dring textile work I spotted on the first floor (she had a fab exhibition at the Rubicon a few years ago I wrote about).

The third big honking thing to launch on Tuesday was Dublin City Council’s Public Art Programme, detailing plans and themes for the upcoming round of public art projects. The four strands of the programme are (1) Dublin, (2) Interaction with the City, (3) Connecting with the Public, and (4) City Contexts; a call for proposals for Strand 2 is open until 27 June. The launch document also includes a striking series of pinhole photographs taken by young Dubliners, the result of a commission from the Gallery of Photography.

The Art Fund in the UK (the largest public endowment for the arts in the UK, established in 1903) has announced it’s increasing its funding available to museums to purchase new works of art by 50% — that’s in addition to its launch of the ‘National Art Pass‘, which for an annual subscription of £35 (and less for students etc) will offer free admission and discounts to exhibitions in museums across the UK (*wipes drool from keyboard*).

Dublin Contemporary is hiring for five temporary positions — deadline is 22 April (has also been added to the jobs page).

Don’t forget about the Visual Arts Workers’ Forum (‘Work It’) at Project next Weds (20 April) — the schedule & session descriptions have now been posted.

There’s a conference on contemporary cultural policy (with a specific German focus) coming up on 6-7 May: ‘Contemporary German-Irish cultural relations in a European Perspective: Exploring issues in cultural policy and practice‘. The conference is co-organized by the Goethe Institute Dublin and The Centre for Irish-German Studies at the University of Limerick; attendance is free!

NCAD and UCD have entered into an ‘academic alliance‘ (yeah, I wasn’t sure at first what that meant either)– we’ve been having a series of discussions with folks from both institutions about new research strands, collaborative projects, new cross-listed modules, and the possibility of joint MA programmes — the six themes are (1) the studio: from process to product; (2) the expanded academy – college and communities; (3) text and image; (4) the city: urban cultures; (5) culture and institutions; (6) arts and healthcare. I’m particularly keen on numero (5) — lots of enthusiasm and great ideas at our last meeting — on to the achievable objectives, what ho!

I’m currently working on the idea of developing a new upper-BA course on photography (history, development & theory) for UCD in 2012-3; I’ve been in lots of interesting conversations in the past week over directions it could take & possible collaborators/opportunities for cross-listing. Hugh Campbell (prof of architecture over here at the Big B) has been running an MA level module in architecture, space and photography — I’ve been inspired by their class blog ‘Space Framed’ and would be interested to see any other examples of Irish 3rd level class blogs that make good use of the online medium (Blackboard, I’m looking at you.)

I was be/amused yesterday to be contacted by a journo from the Irish Independent researching an article on ‘erotic Irish art’ (!) After ascertaining this was in fact a serious request, I was surprised by how many examples my colleagues and I were able to rustle up (ah, St George Hare of Limerick, we didn’t forget you!) Now I’ve *another* module to start developing… :p

As a coda… thanks also to everyone over the past few weeks I’ve run into who have had nice things to say about the blog! It’s nice (and a little creepy) to think how many of y’all read this every week… hope you find it useful, and I always welcome notices, job announcements, press releases, constructive critique, and chocolate.