When Breath Turns To Air… art exhibition 23-28 May

-1This art exhibition about death and dying is opening next Monday (23 May) in Limerick and it will expire (ahem, see what I did there) the following Saturday so be sure to check it out while you can.

When Breath Turns To Air… is presented by a collective called Kicking the Bucket—which facilitated a series of seminars/workshops in which participants creatively explored and discussed issues relating to illness, death and dying.

The show—which takes place in CB1 Gallery and ChristChurch, 51a O Connell Street (next to USIT and the White House Bar)—comprises personal expressions and work from the participants relating to illness, dying and death, which includes videos, paintings, drawings, death/life masks, memento mori, and coffins.

It will include contributions from Sinead Dinneen, Pauline Goggin, Maire Walsh, Tracy Fahy, Jennifer Moran Stritch, Holly Cowman, Margaret Hough, Pat Boland, Ali Baker Kerrigan, Donna Curtin and Katie Verling.

The blurb reads: “Neither grim nor macabre the exhibition reflects the title of the group – Kicking the Bucket, and is beautiful, provocative, fun, engaging and thought provoking. The aim of the exhibition is to prompt discussions about the inevitability of death and to encourage conversations with friends, families and the wider community.”

Katie Verling and Sinead Dineen devised Kicking the Bucket. Katie is an artistic director, and curator and Sinead is a visual artist, teacher and performer. They share a lively interest in end-of-life issues, an understanding of serious illness and cancer treatment. Sinead is currently in treatment for ovarian cancer while Katie received treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Kicking the Bucket is proudly funded by Milford Care Centre’s Compassionate Communities initiative.

When Breath Turns To Air… is opening Monday 23 May 23 at 7pm and runs Tuesday 24 May to Saturday 28 May, 11am-5pm daily.

Belltable Arts Hub Reopens!

outside BT

The building decked out for its re-launch.

I was never more pleased to be at launch than last Thursday (7 April) for the official reopening of the Belltable Arts Hub!

It’s been quite a turbulent few years for the venue at 69 O’Connell Street with resignations, refurbishments, noise disturbances, liquidation and the uncertainty that followed all of that. The last time I wrote about the Belltable I did a very long post recounting the whole saga BUT now the second age of the Belltable has finally arrived.

The reopening was a jubilant affair, complete with a street party and flash mobs. Speakers on the night included outgoing board chairman, Brendan Lane and Louise Donlon, Manager of the Lime Tree, who with her team has made a big contribution to keeping the Belltable alive. In a very fitting way Bríd Dukes, the founding artistic director, cut the ribbon—almost exactly 35 years after the centre first opened in 1981. At the time, regional arts centres were non-existent and as one of the first, the Belltable put Limerick on the cultural map.

BT logo

The new logo

The Belltable is now under the auspices of the Lime Tree Theatre at Mary Immaculate College, which has a five-year lease with Limerick City & County Council to run it. Another welcome return is the name, which can be used after “a lengthy litigation process”. Yikes! There was always a question over whether the brand had been damaged but I think that with all the positive memories associated with it, it was worth fighting for.

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Incoming Chairman of the Board, Colm O’Brien, at the new look bar

It has a new Programme Director in Marketa Dowling. As a former general manager of Fishamble: The New Play Company, she will bring vast experience to the role. Additions to the board include Riverdance composer, Bill Whelan and Colm O’Brien—CEO of Carambola Kidz and founder of Limerick’s Theatre at the Savoy. All these appointments will greatly enhance the rejuvenated venue.

The Credit Union building next door has been refurbished too to become offices and rehearsal space for use by local organisations.

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Some of the revamped rooms in the building next door to the Belltable, which is now part of the complex.

Although there have been events on at the Belltable in the past few years. The Lime Tree’s Arts Encounter programming has kept it ticking over splendidly but it will be a step forward to have someone dedicated to developing the venue itself as well as its events schedule. It is also welcome news that the Belltable will be an active participant in the local arts infrastructure again, especially in the context of Limerick’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2020.

After the mistakes of the past, I have a feeling that the Belltable Arts Hub has a secure future. I think I speak for many when I say I’m looking forward to attending lots of great events there in the coming years!

Féile Luimní to celebrate 70 years in 2016

One of Limerick’s cultural institutions, Féile Luimní, will celebrate 70 years of existence next year.

Having made a massive contribution to the social and artistic life of Limerick city and county, the organisation will mark the milestone with a series of competitions, a concert and by awarding special 70th anniversary Bursaries of Excellence, it was announced at the official launch this Tuesday.

IMG_1045I remember competing in Speech & Drama in primary school and it was a brilliant experience (our class group won a cup). Also, our very own Limerick Arts Officer, Sheila Deegan, has some Féile bronze medals for Irish dancing. It’s a real highlight for lots of primary school kids as well as musicians and trained singers.

The competition will be held in the first three months of the year—beginning in January with the Speech & Drama (Senior section, 20-24 January & Junior section, 29 January-3 February). The instrumental section will run 4-7 February. Applications are now closed for these competitions. The vocal competition will run 4-6 March (closing date for entries: 9 January) and March 2016 will also see the annual Roinn na Gaeilge Festival—which places a big emphasis on making our native language as accessible as possible.

The venue for all events is The Redemptorist Centre of Music.

The committee is “appealing for schools and teachers to encourage students to attend and, where already entered, to participate, so as expose them to the joy of the sense of achievement and the self confidence that public performance brings”.

The Prize Winners Concert will take place on 9 April in the wonderfully atmospheric setting of the ancient, St Mary’s Cathedral. This will feature winners from Féile Luimní 2016, and will be a real night of celebration. The top prize winners in many categories of performance, along with the winners of the 70th Anniversary Awards of Excellence will perform on the night.

The 70th Anniversary Awards of Excellence feature a €1,000 vocal bursary, which is awarded to the competitor who excels across the four genres of: Opera, Oratorio, German Lieder and Art Songs. There is also an Instrumental Recital Award of Excellence of €750 for over 18s. There are also 70th Anniversary Awards of Excellence for Speech and Drama; the Joe O’Connor Perpetual Cup and a bursary of €750 will go to the Most Outstanding Senior Performer and bursaries of €200 will also be awarded to the two Most outstanding Junior Performers (male and female).

Anyone that would like to assist in helping to organise any of the events or who can contribute in any way to Féile Luimní is asked to contact the committee.

Secretary Mary Scanlan can be reached on 087-2208616 or alternatively, email: feileluimni@gmail.com.

For more information, see www.feileluimni.com.

Twitter: @feileluimni Facebook: www.facebook.com/feile.luimni

Light Moves Festival of Screendance this wknd

light_moves_bookinIreland’s only festival dedicated to dance on film and video art with movement as a central theme—The Light Moves Festival of Screendance—takes place in Limerick this weekend (19-22 Nov) and will screen 55 works by 92 national and international artists.

Highlights of this year’s programme include the European premiere of 24 Frames Per Second, a multi-arts commission by Carriageworks, Australia’s leading contemporary arts centre; Performance artist Nigel Rolfe; Renowned UK choreographer Siobhan Davies in a public interview; a special screening of Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, a screendance symposium & lab, and children’s workshops.

Now in its second year, Light Moves “is a response to the vibrant and expanding area of dance film/screendance in Ireland”.

light_moves_drawing_restraint_9Curated by Jürgen Simpson and Mary Wycherley, the festival combines feature films, invited works, open submissions and explorations of screendance with some of the most respected figures in this field.

24 Frames Per Second sees 10 discrete artworks presented at Dance Limerick, LSAD (Limerick School of Art and Design) and an outdoor installation on Lower Cecil Street.  This partnership with Light Moves, which is a European premiere, embraces an expanded notion of dance, with the selected artists practising embodied movement in a variety of forms.

Among the feature films presented this year, a festival highlight will be the special screening of Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, the most complex instalment in an ongoing series, begun in 1987, which seeks to explore “resistance as a pre-requisite for development and a vehicle for creativity”.

A new addition to this year’s programme is the invitation to leading figures in the dance/screendance and performance world to share their experiences through a guest talk. Seminal performance artist, Nigel Rolfe, will give a talk entitled The Caught In Between and Nigel’s works Track and Into the Mire will be screened as part of the Invited Works programme. Renowned British choreographer Siobhan Davies will be in public conversation with the Light Moves curators.

light_moves_carriageworks_gapsIn addition to works invited to the festival, almost 40 open submissions with movement as a central theme will be presented.  Over 140 submissions were received from 30 countries in response to an international open call, with those to be shown selected by the festival curators.

An important element of the festival programme will once again be the Light Moves Screendance Symposium, which takes place over two half-days during the festival. The theme of the symposium is ‘Peeling Away the Layers’ and there will a keynote address and various speakers.

Speaking at the launch of the programme for Light Moves 2015, festival curator Mary Wycherley said:“We present a festival of opportunities which offers new and thought-provoking ways of engaging with performance and movement on screen. The works presented explore and expand the notion of choreography, enabling the body to take centre stage whilst advocating screendance as a way of both making film and thinking about film and dance.”

The event is produced by Dance Limerick, in partnership with DMARC (Digital Media and Arts Research Centre) at University of Limerick. Light Moves was established in 2014 as a legacy project under Limerick City of Culture.

Full details and booking information from www.lightmoves.ie

Culture Round-Up Sept 15

It’s been a busy September and I haven’t gotten around to blogging very much so I’m going to do a bit of a round-up…

First up, Elemental Arts & Culture Festival (11-13 Sept) seemed to be a success. There was a definite buzz around the city centre and lots of family friendly stuff, which was lovely. I got to a few things as well.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 23.12.34I really loved the documentary, Alive Inside. I’d really recommend it if you get a chance to see it online or on DVD. It follows a social worker called Dan Cohen, who runs a non-profit organisation called Music and Memory. They go into healthcare settings, mostly nursing homes, to show how to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss. The film shows how music can benefit those suffering from dementia, severe mental illness and conditions like MS. They supply headphones and iPods loaded with music, preferably a person’s favourite music. At a basic level, it can give them a pleasurable break from routine but it can also help them remember things, connect with the outside world and ultimately, improve their quality of life. It highlights issues with healthcare systems globally and the way we treat our aging population. But it deals with music as an element of culture, how we experience it and the interplay between music and feelings. It is truly amazing the way people reacted to music i.e. Alzheimer’s patients who didn’t normally communicate are suddenly alert and even singing and dancing in some cases. It begs the question: Could a ‘prescription’ of music be as effective (or more effective) as drugs? It’s a combination of uplifting and heart-breaking but well worth a look.

On the Saturday, I got along to the Fab Lab to see Love Letters from Limerick—an exhibition of traditional sign-writing and the art of hand painted lettering. Local sign artist, Tom Collins, is involved and visiting sign-artists, Sean and Kayleigh Starr, took part too. The pieces on display are very cool—a lot of distinctive signs and decorative items like embossed mirrors. There’s also a new sign that has been created for the project and erected on the side of a building on William Street reading ‘Everybody else is doing it so why can’t we?’—presumably in honour of The Cranberries’ album of the same name. The exhibition is running until this Friday, October 2.

I also called into the Hunt Museum to see Father Browne’s First World War—an exhibition of photographs by the Cork-born army chaplain. He ministered to troops at the Somme, Messines Ridge, Paschendaele, Ypres, Amiens and Arras. Some of his photos were stunning. I loved the immediacy of the trench and battlefield shots. By the way, the superb, Ranks: A Limerick Industry, is the Hunt’s current exhibition. Blurb is: “The Ranks flour mills were at the heart of Limerick for generations. This exhibition celebrates and explores the role of Ranks in Limerick’s history through stories from the local community.” If you’re in town and at a loose end before 25 October, I’d urge you to go and see it. I saw it before and it’s quite touching. It’s a huge part of Limerick’s industrial past but the personal accounts are nice.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 21.24.25Also during Elemental, I had a look at Third Bridge by Andrew Kearney and Deirdre Power in Ormston House. The exhibition was “based on the collective action taken in 1983 by then first year students at Limerick School of Art and Design to construct a ‘third bridge’ over the Shannon, built from 180 polystyrene bricks, strung together, bracelet-like, by two 185 meter-long nylon ropes”. The effort “exemplified what Suzanna Lacy would later refer to as ‘new genre’ public art”. Mostly consisting of photos documenting the project, I thought it was very well put together and illustrated an interesting period in the city’s history. I would’ve loved for more photos to be in colour but it’s likely they were shot on black and white film. If they weren’t, I feel an even split between colour and monochrome would have been better but it was still a great show.  

I saw the play, Charolais, that night in 69 O’Connell Street. Told from the perspective of lovelorn farmhand, Siobhán, and a rather snooty French cow, it was very clever. Written and performed by Noni Stapleton, the black comedy is a tale of homicidal jealousy between a woman and a prize cow (literally). The solo performance was excellent—particularly when she was playing the part of the animal—and the writing smutty, raw and hilarious in parts. It premiered in Dublin Fringe 2014 as part of Show in a Bag—an artist development initiative of Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble: The New Play Company and the Irish Theatre Institute. I’ve seen some brilliant plays arising out of Show in a Bag including Bandit, Fight Night, The Wheelchair on my Face, Counter Culture and Connected.

The following Friday (18 Sept) was Culture Night and again, there was a fabulous buzz around the city centre with all the events going on. I called into LCGA, Limerick Craft Hub, the Hunt Museum, the Fab Lab and the Milk Market but the highlight was an Open House initiative at 4 Patrick Street. The building, formerly a shop before it was boarded up as part of the ill-fated Opera Centre Project, was also the birthplace of famous Limerick soprano, Catherine Hayes. You could only step in to see a limited shop floor space but then a young local soprano read a little bit about Hayes’ global career and sang excerpts from arias from operas Hayes performed in. It lasted 10-15 minutes max but it was a perfect slice of culture. I love the concept of Culture Night (and late opening of galleries/musuems could happen a little more often BTW). The hope is that it encourages people to seek things out on some of the other 364 days of the year.

To top September off, I was invited along to see Waiting in Line by local theatre company, Honest Arts, at the Jonathan Swift Theatre in UL last week. A sharp commentary of Ireland’s social welfare culture written by Pius McGrath and Tara Doolan, I thought it was observant and funny with strong performances. McGrath was particularly impressive. The set design was amazing; no surprise that it was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award. The settings were projected onto the background (with realistic animations) using 3D mapping technology. This innovative technique is possibly the future of set design and suited the fast pace of the piece very well. Honest Arts garnered positive reviews for production, The Mid-Knight Cowboy, at the Edinburgh Fringe and Waiting in Line showed at the Toronto Fringe Festival. This vibrant, young company is a definite ‘one to watch’.