Thursday, 19 September 2019

New Voices of Ireland

Dublin is a cacophony of sound and the most noticeable thing for me are all the different languages and accents you hear walking down the street.   So an exhibition of immigrant artists and connected themes was a perfect end to our day in the city last week.

New Voices of Ireland is run by the Centre for Creative Practice, an organisation in Dublin who facilitate immigrant artists and local artists working with immigrants, helping them integrate into the arts scene in Ireland and helping them get their work out there. 

The opening speaker Ailbhe Murphy, an Irish gay activist, was very eloquent and asked an interesting question about the word immigrant - if we went to work in New York say, would we be immigrants?  Probably not ... We'd more likely just be people who have moved to NY for work.   So why is it different?  in a country who's people have been so badly treated down through the years as emigrants, why are we so bad at welcoming this new wave of people to our shores.

My friend Csilla from Hungary is a poet and film maker writing in English.   She was one of 10 artists selected for this exhibition and it was a very inspirational evening.  Ranging from a play, a monologue, photography, architecture, film, and a very unusual installation of written words, the show was varied and of the highest standard. 

One who really caught my attention was Nicola Anthony who is based in London, and takes stories from refugees and immigrants and turns them into mini works of art - words carved in bronze, put in a bottle with a clock mechanism and sometimes with sound - I found it incredibly moving.

Nasrin Golden  from Iran, takes items from her home and turns them into large scale photographs that  end up resembling Persian carpets - beautiful work. 

She says: "The project uses images from the past, the longed for. However, they are shaped by the experience of cultivating a new identity in the here and now,  mirroring and duplicating in an attempt to replicate the identity of the observed and create the new. Questioning the order of form in the world around us by surrounding our self with perceptions of our own identity." 

Csilla Toldy presented two short film poems about Belfast - the changing view of the city - an outsider looking in.   They're not up on her website yet, but it was interesting seeing what an newcomer sees of our city - I tend to not see the mundane side of it and only view the nice bits, but she very cleverly highlighted the similarities between the two sides of the still divided town.  This is one of her other short film poems.

Unfortunately I didn't get time to view "Still Waiting for the Summer" by the German film makers Barbara Lubich and Michael Sommermeyer, documenting how a musical group made up of people from several different nationalities, challenged the very strong right wing element present in Dresden where they all live.   Well worth watching I'm told.   Over 30% of people in Dresden voted for the right wing Deutschland fur Alles in the last election - a very scary thought.

Wann wird es endlich wieder Sommer / Waiting for the summer's return (Trailer) from hechtfilm - filmproduktion on Vimeo.

All of the pieces presented on the night were very interesting - the other artists were Mirjana Reneduzic an actress from Croatia, Romi Cruanas a theatre director from South America, Leia Mocan who presented several pieces made from recycled waste,  Irish digital artist Joe Ryan who looked at the point when an old building is taken over by a new structure and how it changes the community.

Lots of food for thought.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Not good at change

There's so much new stuff to learn all the time these days, particularly to do with computers and various devices.   As a result when I find one thing I like I'm very reluctant to change. 

But, I've finally given in and changed my browser from Safari - for months now I've not been able to leave comments on your blogs from my laptop, but could do it on my computer.   Now it won't play either.   I really don't like using all Google products, or all from any company for that matter, but it's so annoying when you spend ages writing messages and none show up.   So apologies if I've been AWOL and I'll see if Google Chrome performs any better. 

Sat with my mother for an hour on Sunday eating ice cream and looking out at the sea at Bundoran.
The hills of north Donegal were just about visible across the bay
It is still the most calming thing... looking at waves ... love it.

Monday, 16 September 2019

In Dublin's Fair City

It's a gorgeous day here today but I'm sitting in a long queue on the phone waiting to get through to national insurance people so I'm putting the time to good use.   

For a myriad of reasons we had to cancel our planned holiday in France this year so we decided on a few day trips to make up for it.  Firstly to Dublin

And we had blue skies and warm sunshine for it on Friday.  My friend, Hungarian poet  Csilla Toldy, with whom I collaborated on a two handed theatre piece called The Emigrant Woman's Tale, had a video poem in an exhibition of New Voices of Ireland (I'll give this a separate post) so we decided to make a day of it.   The train to Dublin always feels like a treat to me (trains were already gone when I was growing up in rural Fermanagh) and after lunch in my favourite Lebanese restaurant and a wander around Grafton Street we headed in to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.

Image borrowed from the Internet
Photography was not allowed in the main room where the actual book is on display so I've borrowed these couple of images from the Internet.  
Now, I'm sure all you learned folks reading this know about or at least have heard of The Book of Kells.   It's a 9th century illuminated manuscript of the Four Gospels plus some introductory texts which was written by 4 scribes and 3 artists as far as scholars can tell.  
It really is a beautiful thing and is considered the oldest example of its kind in Europe and is Ireland's greatest treasure.  
As well as the main manuscript, the University also holds 7 out of around 20 remaining small transcribed books that monks would have written themselves before setting out around the world to preach the gospel.  

Internet Picture ( I think this one is of Matthew)

The exhibition From Darkness to Light describes the making of the book, plus The Book of Armagh which was written slightly earlier and the Book of Durrow, what inks were used and how they. were made and the fact that the exhibit book took somewhere around 189 calf skins to make.  Such laborious work.  And the scholarly research is impressive.

I've wanted to visit this for as long as I can remember, but I'm a terrible tourist and never got around o it and unfortunately when we went in the place was packed - apparently there was a cruise ship in for the day.   We got a glimpse of the book for a couple of minutes and the young people from the tours were so noisy we couldn't wait to get out again.   I will go back sometime though - perhaps in Winter.   

The best part by far of the exhibition for me was walking through The Long Room which is the oldest library in the world and was built in the mid 1700s to house every book that was printed in the British Isles.  It's a beautiful space and houses over 200,000 ancient books and manuscripts including an original copy of the Irish Declaration of Independence - apparently only 2 of them exist.  

The magnificent Long Room

Notice there's no J on the edges - there was no
letter J in Latin
The domed ceiling was added
long after the original building to house a second level of books
 The library also houses the Brian Boru harp which interestingly (for me anyway ) has nothing to do with the 11th century High King of Ireland Brian Boru, but was given to Trinity in the 18th century and dates back to the late 14th or early 15th century.   It is the symbol of Ireland and is one of only three instruments of its kind in existence.
Again there were so many people around it was hard to get a decent photo but I loved the detail on this - it's encrusted with tiny jewels and crystals which suggests that it was the instrument of a master musician or bard or someone from a very prominent family.
A detail of the Brian Boru harp

Another image borrowed from the internet

So all in all a very interesting browse and I'd highly recommend it, if you haven't already visited.   Trinity is right in the centre of Dublin so very easy to get to - but try to avoid the cruise ships unless you're actually on it yourself lol

So from there after a wee sojourn in Powerscourt Town House for tea and cakes, it was a long walk to the exhibition which was a delight.  

As I said earlier I'll do a separate post for the exhibition .... stay tuned :)

Sunday, 8 September 2019

A walk in the woods and a new sculpture in the park

Hello all
It was lovely to hear from some of you last week and good to get back to having a bit of space in my head again.  

A new metal sculpture in the Narnia wood
For the record, I spent ages leaving comments over a couple of weekends only to find out that my laptop doesn't like to play with Safari :( and kept none of the comments .... So hello to Kate and all the Scavenger Hunt players for the last couple of months - I loved your photos - Kate always puts up some out of the box words to illustrate with a photo and the challenge is a great way of catching up on the month gone by - my drafts folder is full of *nearly* ready to post posts that didn't quite make it ... maybe this month.
Not sure if I like her but she'll not blow away
like the willow figures

Have a great week - hopefully the Autumn isn't in full swing yet and that there's a bit of sunshine left

Beech nuts in profusion this year

Monday, 2 September 2019

Flying in to September

Hello Blogland friends

I hope you are keeping well.  

It's been ages since I've posted here - life has a habit of getting in the way of things at the minute.   There are several half finished posts waiting for a bit of editing and shuffling around that are now way out of date but they may still see the light of day if I can get a bit of head space.   

Can you believe it's September already - although it feels a bit like Winter here today - at least we're not getting what the poor people in the Bahamas are having to face.  

Yesterday was so different though - in between the showers there was good bouts of sunshine and I got to take the last part of my (last year's) big birthday present - a flight in a Cessna plane!!  Wow - what a fabulous experience and what a wonderful present.   

Strangford Lough from a Cessna plane
We flew from Newtownards down to Newcastle with the Mournes in our sightline - that's what I was aiming for when the pilot let me take the controls - talk about exciting - I'll be grinning for a week.   I was so excited I forgot to take a photo though.

And then back up the Ards Penninsula which is simply beautiful to fly over - lots of wee islands on Strangford Lough, and as the tide was low we got a really good view of the shape of the lough

even spotting a shipwreck....
You can see the ship broken in two here - one half lying out of the water on the bottom right
and the other half up near the shoreline beside the 6 white dots (boats)

 We were so lucky with the weather - a huge cloudburst landed just 2 minutes after us but the whole flight was just perfect.

I've wanted to do this all my adult life but never quite got around to it.   Then for my 60th last year, my lovely choir clubbed together to get it for me - one of the ladies had heard me talking about it one time when we were all talking about things we'd wished we'd done.
 The islands looked like jewels in the water - you know like the big blocks of amethyst you see in crystal shops that have edges that look like they've come out of the water.

I hope you're all keeping well -whether you're heading for Autumn or Spring at the minute - best wishes from Belfast where I'm sitting in a cafe catching up.  

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

A quick trip to West Cork and a great idea

Gosh I'm so far behind with posting photos and coming by to say hello.   Every time I think I've something ready, something else needs doing .... aargh ... but I'll catch up.   I will, I will, I WILL :)
So to recover we ran away for a few days to West Cork.  And got a heatwave for our trouble.   

We did a couple of songs with the fabulous John Spillane (the essence of West Cork someone called him) in the wonderful de Barra's Folk Club which was our reason for being down that far south (it's about a 5 hour drive from here) - so to capitalise on it we decided to take our caravan (adding another couple of hours to the drive) and have a wee break which was worth it.   

We've played in de Barra's several times, but maybe 25 years ago - we were wondering if one of our posters might be at the bottom of this pile we spotted on the wall!

As a bonus we hit upon the annual Old Time Fair and Brass Band Competition on Saturday  - a really joyful day of swing music, old trades, everyone in great form and the shops doing flying business.

Clonakilty is a beautiful town at the best of times, with loads of boutiques, great places to eat, excellent music and lovely pubs - it's about 40 minutes west of Cork city and well worth a visit if you're ever around those parts.

Here's a blast of the wonderfully fun (and pink) Ambling Band from Bristol who treated us to a splendid round of well known songs and got the whole crowd joining in the Can Can.   And they lead the final parade of vintage cars and steam engines in the evening.  If you're ever needing a band to add a bit of fun to your festival these guys are the business.

And the wonderful idea?  
I spotted this sign in a cafe and I'm sure there are uses for it everywhere ... 
The photo's a bit blurry but it says

A Brilliant Idea.

Reduce Use of Paper Cups
If possible please return

We're getting ready for Fiddlers Green Festival now, coming up in under 2 weeks - a couple of gigs for us and for Singmarra and Tom's book launch - and also preparing for a tour of the Emigrant Woman's Tale over the Winter - so lots going on.

Hopefully I'll see you again before too long.
In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying your summer (or Winter, Susan :) ) .

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Birds Song

The RSPB recently released a record of birdsong which managed to go to the top of the charts - a fantastic achievement.  And they've now started a Birdsong Radio - wonderful.    It is surely the biggest delight of my day to hear the birds singing in the morning and to watch them feeding in the garden.  Check it out here

On our recent trip to England and Scotland we had a morning off in the Lake District and found TheBirds Bistro :). A brilliant place to buy special foods for the birds and squirrels.  We came home loaded down.   Check it out if  you're in the area. 

And at the same time, my Tom has written a fun song called The Birds Song - a parody on immigration - have a listen - and a watch of our birds :). 

He's working on a children's book at the moment illustrated by a friend, Colum McEvoy.  I'll post some of the images in a future blog post - it will be launched at our festival here next month.   

"We may have different feathers and sing a different song
But when we sing together, the differences are gone. "