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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 11, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    If you only do one thing this weekend: sing a song of Amergin

    Laurence Mackin

    CRAFT:The Song of Amergin is a part of Irish myth, an invocation sung by the druid Amergin that called upon the spirit of Ireland to help him land a ship in safety. It’s stirring stuff; this extract comes from a translation by Robert Graves in The White Goddess:

    I am the stag: of seven tines,
    I am a flood: across a plain,
    I am a wind: on a deep lake,
    I am a tear: the sun lets fall,
    I am a hawk: above the cliff,
    I am a thorn beneath the nail,
    I am a wonder: among flowers

    Better than Braveheart, no?

    Few places can boast more Irish mythological connections than the tiny county of Louth, so it’s fitting that the Louth Craftmark Designers Network should take the Song of Amergin as the inspiration for its showpiece exhibition as part of the 2011 Year of Craft (also, rumour has it that Amergin himself is buried under the hill at Millmount). The show takes place in Highlanes Municipal Art gallery in Drogheda.

    Among those exhibiting their work will be Claire Conway (textiles), Garret Mallon (jewellery), Frances Lambe (ceramics), John O’Connor (painting), Sarah McKenna (ceramics), Joe Lawler (architectural furniture), Elaine Hanrahan (jewellery), John Maloney (sculpture), Fiona Kerbey (ceramics), Patricia Murphy (textiles), Breda Marron (sculpture), Mary Cowan (ceramics), Mel Bradley (textiles) and Robert Kelly (printmaking). Click over here for further information.

    STAGE:Brave are the people who organise outdoor events in Ireland, but the crew behind Romeo and Juliet Unplugged are going a step further – their show will be outdoor and uses no electricity, so it’s all natural voice projection, lighting and staging. Cracked Light Productions and their 32-member cast will be showing Ranelagh gardens who’s boss from today until Sunday (7pm or Sat/Sun 3pm). Entry is free (there’ll be a hat for donations) and crowd participation in those great big fight scenes is apparently encouraged. Click here for more.

    SEND IN THE LATINOS: Dublin will be getting a lot more colourful and a lot more noisy over the weekend when the Latin American Festival rolls into town. On Friday night, there’s a showing of Como Agua Para Chocolate in the Project Arts Centre followed by an Ecuadorian production, Mientras L lega El Dia (pictured below). Exchange Dublin is holding a photo and art exhibition of vintage photographs from the 1940s to the 1970s, and there’s a workshop on brewing maté tea at 3.15pm. (Do you think somewhere in South America there’s a European festival featuring a workshop with an Irish mammy on how make a daecent brew?)

    You must get the popcorn

    On Saturday, you can see Ecuadorian folk and dance group Raices de Tungurahua (again in the Project), and the headline act is Labana, led by frontman Dany Martinez, who will be playing Latin hip-rock at the Purty Kitchen from 9pm. Click here for more amigos.

    FILM: An exhibition in Sligo of the work of Harun Farocki, Recognition and Tracking, will be closing in a few weeks, so take the chance to see it while you can. Farocki has had a huge influence on political film since the 1960s and it’s quite the coup for the Model to put together this show. Farocki currently has a comprehensive solo exhibition at Moma in New York and he is regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished film-makers. So there.

    This show recreates a 2006 World Cup football match in 12 projections, using footage and off-kilter viewpoints. The overall exhibition uses footage shot in US military facilities, combined with material from computer simulations, and the gallery is also screening a series of Farocki’s films, from the 1960s to the present. This is a feast for fans of this singular artist. Click here for more.

    DANCE: The Step Up dance project is the kind of arts project that deserves wider attention and should be copied in other art forms. It aims to bridge the gap between professional practice and dance education. Six dancers fresh out of college got six weeks of training, rehearsals, performance and professional development at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, at the University of Limerick. Those selected were Chrissie Ardill (Kilkenny), Deirdre Griffin (Meath), Karen Gleeson (Dublin), Lucia Kickham (Wexford), Roisin Laffan (Dublin) and Ryan O’Neill (Antrim), and they got tuition from the likes of Charles Linehan (UK), Luke Murphy (IRE/US), Paul Estabrook (US/NL), Laura Murphy (IRE) and Elena Giannotti (IT/IRE).

    So how did they get on? Well, you can judge for yourself at two free events at UL on Friday at 8pm, and at Dance House, Foley Street, Dublin on Saturday at 6pm, when two new works featuring the six dancers will be unveiled. Nice work.

    That is our selection for the weekend that’s in it. Last weekend I was at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and was blown away by the work of Jacco Olivier, and I found this video where he explains how he made the works. Sometimes you need to see the ropes pulling the curtains.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      The power of the bard eh? Well it was – as I do say – that the high kings of Ireland feared far more the strains of Amergin’s harp than did they the massed bronze of his son Conall Cearnach. Like I say also, Plato was wrong. Any decent Republic worth the name needs its artists like the body needs breath. They’re the only ones can have any hope of keeping the restayis on the straight and narrow.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      What is Amergin meaning with his song? Is he recognising that we are all just random collections of molecules in a universe full of the things; some of which were born in the heart of stars? That we all in our turn become everything there is, like Alexander the Great finally ending up as the bung in a wine barrel; that each and every element of our being down past one atomic length even is connected to each and every element of all else and that the ‘self’ is nothing but a delusion a barrier that creates subject and object when in Reality there is no such distinction? Is that where the shape-shifter enters the myth, like Ceridwen and Taliesen, or like some hacker using a Warhol worm to morph into various avatars while being chased by a system’s security?

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      The triple spiral of Newgrange the three aspects of Danu the Holy Trinity all in certain aspects represent the thing that singles Man out from the rest of the animal/vegetable Kingdom. Namely, our ability to constantly reflect upon and remain aware of past present and future. Like Zeno’s Arrow we are while ever at rest ever in flight particle by particle as the clinamen swerve, which is at least according to Lucretius the only thing that allows our particular random set of molecules to be different from all else in the Fall of the Atoms.

    • Kynos says:

      The power of transformation; adaptation, while yet remaining in essence the same? Is that what Amergin’s song of Ireland is saying? Darwin would surely agree it is key to the survival of the fittest. As would Danu and all the avatars of Her wrought since; regardless of animal/vegetable considerations of gender. Okeydoke that’s sorted that out for me at least. Kept me awake thru the last BPMS session too. Thanks. Good weekemd.

    • Kynos/JOD says:

      Well OK it was the OTHER Amergin was dad of Conall Cearnach. Not the one who sang the flying ships to rest and burning. But tbh to quibble about such things is akin to quibbling about whether Palladius and Patrick were separate or one and the same. Focusing on the messengers rather than on the message.

    • Kynos/JOD says:

      Blasht it that’s annoying me. The Amergin who composed the song is not the Amergin who fathered Conall Cearnach. Both were poets apparently but I didn’t know they were two ‘separate’ ‘individuals’ one belonging to the Mythological Cycle and the other to the Ulster Cycle. There y’go serves me right for talking off the top of me head. I always thought they were one and the same. Which of course, they were, as is all else, but you know what I mean. I’m talking in the sense of the Delusion we all live in; not the Reality. Apols.

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