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’.

December art exhibitions-remain[s]/CAVES; new curator for eva International

There are two newart exhibitions for local art connoisseurs this December to enjoy. In other news, eva hasappointed a curator for 2012.
remain[s], an exhibition of works by Patrick Fitzpatrick, opened yesterday and runs until December 10 at Ormston House. Gallery opening hours: Wed-Sat 12-6pm, or by appointment. The exhibition is part of a research masters at Limerick School of Art and Design.
“The exhibition examines memory and nature: in this case why memory is important to us and the role nature plays as the source of memory and meaning. We all gather things from our journeys: postcards, pint glasses and bills, and in the artists’ case flowers, plants and earth.” It explores associations through memory and nature that add depth to understanding and experience.

CAVES, a soloexhibition by Anthony Murphy, opens from today to December 22 at Occupy Space.The gallery opening hours are Weds-Sat 1-5pm.
Three large scale projection mapping works have been created by Murphy; thesepieces are based on explorations of simple 2D shapes, a different shape isexplored, dissected and manipulated in each of the three rooms that make up thegallery.
The premise is: ”Plato’s allegory of the cave describes prisoners, inhabitingthe cave since childhood, immobile, facing an interior wall. A large fire burnsbehind the prisoners, and as people pass this fire their shadows are cast uponthe cave’s wall, and these shadows of the activity being played out behind theprisoner become the only version of reality that the prisoner knows.” 
Each piece is “designedto immerse the viewer, and then to confront the audience with a questionregarding how far they, as privileged viewers of the shadows and reflectionsbeing played out upon the walls, are willing to allow themselves to believewhat they know to be a false reality”. 
eva International appoints new curator 
evaInternational, formerly ev+a, will run from May 19 to August 12 2012 and will be curated by Annie Fletcher. Ms Fletcher isthe Curator of Exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and tutor at De Appel, Amsterdam.
She saidof her appointment: “Everywhere we look and everything we read right now seemsto tell us we are at a new juncture. We are at an unprecedented moment ofchange – whether teetering on the precipice of financial ruin, or witnessingextraordinary new articulations of protest. This year eva International willattempt to tap into this feeling of imminence by understanding how artistsdefine and explain the status quo in relation to global events. What are we onthe verge of? How do artists envisage what is to come and what is to be done?”
Foundedin 1977, eva International is an artist-centred biennial of visual art thatworks with acclaimed guest curators to present innovative exhibitions acrossthe city of Limerick. Artists’ projects are selected through an internationalopen call for proposals and exhibitions take place in both gallery andnon-gallery spaces.
WoodrowKernohan, Director of eva International, added: “eva International is delightedthat Annie Fletcher will be the Curator for the 35th edition of Ireland’s biennial of visual art in 2012. We are looking forwardto working with her to create an exciting programme of exhibitions andassociated events that will animate the city and forge links across Limerick and beyond.”
Aninternational open call for proposals will be launched in early December with thedeadline for submissions: January 31 2012.See or email for further information. The exhibition is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Limerick City Council,Limerick City Gallery of Art and is in partnership with the Van Abbemuseum andVisual Artists Ireland.