Pursued by a Bear »

  • Culture Shots: Edible art, a roomful of city and some astonishing books

    January 30, 2012 @ 1:44 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    There is an intriguing interview with artist Jeremy Deller over on the Guardian website. The man is deep in the bowels of a Texas cave filmng the millions of bats that live there, as the 3D climax to his new show at the Hayward Gallery, called The Joy of People.

    Apart from the fact that he’s a fascinating artist, Deller has the habit of saying blatantly unartistic things (or to be precise, things you would not expect an artist to say). He has a pop at established Brits such as Tracey Emin (he has previous in this regard), and laughs about how the “crap under his bed” from when he was a kid is now considered a work of art. But perhaps the best part is his take on how artists aren’t special, and anyone has the potential to be an artist, in the same way that anyone could be an accoutant, say, if they took the notion.

    “Everyone has the potential to be creative. It’s just having the time and the space. I don’t think artists are special. A lot of people do. That’s the great product of marketing artists – ‘they are different and special’. I don’t believe that. You see as much creativity outside the art world as inside it. I mean, all children are creative.”

    Jeremy Deller is living proof of this.

    One of the people Deller namechecks in his interview is Chris Burden, who once had himself shot in the arm to make a film about it. I’ve mentioned his most recent project before, but it’s worth bringing up again – Metropolis II is a gigiantic model inspired by the city of Los Angeles that uses 1,200 cars and a lot of magnets to bring a teeming city into a warehouse. Burden has finished the sculpture after four years work and his team spent several months breaking it down so it could be transported to LACMA. It is now installed and open for business.

    Closer to home, the Science Gallery is also in the mood for small, perfectly formed items. As parts of its forthcoming show Edible, it wants your ideas for original and innovative recipes – one-bite wonders only please. Click here for details on where to send your perfect mouthfuls – the winner gets their dish served up, 20 VIP invites to the show, and a course at Cooks Academy. Mmmmm. Science.

    Meanwhile in London, the Photographers’ Gallery will reopen in May after a £8.9 million overhaul. Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has been scouring the globe for his series on the oil industry, and will open the gallery with what promises to be a spectacular show. Irish angle alert: the new building was designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey architects. The company is also responsible for the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, and Temple Bar’s own Gallery of Photography.

    And for something completely different: may we present The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Everyone’s raving about how The Artist is reviving interest in silent film, and Martin Scorsese could well win best film for Hugo, his paean to the first film-makers. This silent film, though, blends the old and new, with stop motion, computer and traditional hand-drawn animation. It’s the first short by animation studio Moonbot and is up for Best Animated Short. Two of the other nominated films, Wild Life and Sunday, are well worth a look and you can see them both here. For the moment though, here is Mr Lessmore in all his bookish glory.

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . . go traditional

    January 26, 2012 @ 4:12 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Hoolies and hijinks: Every so often, Temple Bar does something to remind us that it was originally conceived as a cultural hub – it’s terrific new umbrellas at Meeting House Square, the atmosphere during Culture Night, or at the moment it’s alive to the sounds of the Temple Bar Trad Fest. For fans of all things jigged and reeled, this a mouthwatering line-up. Trad supergroup The Inisturkbeggers, with Kíla’s Lance Hogan leading the charge, will be ripping it up tomorrow night; The Dubliners (below) play two 50th-anniversary shows on Friday and Saturday. Frankie Gavin is putting in a rare appearance and there is a tribute to the mighty Pecker Dunne on Sunday (click here for Mick Heany’s piece on his life and work). Those of you who made it to the Afro-Cubism night earlier in the year at the NCH might remember support act Fidil with Senegalese Kora player Solo Cissokho – the pair are joining Tarab for an intriguing night of music. Are ye dancing? Are ye asking?

    We better finish this one quick: the park keeper is coming to kick us out (more…)

  • Nominate your next Laureate na nÓg

    @ 10:42 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Nominations are now open for the next Laureate na nÓg. Siobhan Parkinson, whose books include Sisters No Way!, Amelia and Kate, recently finished her tenure and now the search is on for the next author to hold the position.

    Nominees must be Irish and they should be an “internationally recognised author or illustrator who has made a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature in Ireland”. Sure we’ve heaps of those. Individuals or organisations can make nominations, and the deadline is February 24th 2012.

    For details click here. Laureate na nÓg is an Arts Council initiative with the support of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland.

  • Live review: Tigran Hamasyan

    January 25, 2012 @ 3:52 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    John Field Room, National Concert Hall, Dublin

    Tigran Hamasyan cuts a slight figure on stage, looking barely his 24 years, but from the moment he first touches the keyboard, it’s clear he is built for bigger stages than this.

    I last saw Hamasyan play at the NattJazz Festival in Norway last year, and although he brought stunning fluency and technical ability to bear, it was a little lacking in lyricism. Perhaps the poetic aspects of his latest album A Fable are having more of an influence, or perhaps it’s playing to a more general audience than that of a jazz festival, but here, he rarely lets technical virtuosity drown out the beauty of his songwriting in a performance of rare intensity and effectiveness. (more…)

  • The astonishing story of Vivian Maier

    January 23, 2012 @ 4:21 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    RTE’s Arena arts show recently featured a piece about the extraordinary story of photographer Vivian Maier. She was one of the first street photographers, and created a remarkable, personal archive of images that she kept a secret, to the extent that they nearly went unseen altogether.

    Maier’s work was unknown in her own lifetime. She was born in New York City and moved between the US and Europe before settling in NYC in 1951 and then leaving for Chicago in 1956. She spent most of her life working as a nanny and carer, and used her spare time to build up a staggering photographic archive of more than 100,000 negatives, from the 1950s up until the 1990s. She scrupulously hid all of it in storage and her work was only discovered by chance after one of her storage lockers was auctioned off, due to delinquency payments. (In later life, Maier was poor, may have spent some time homeless, and was taken care of by three of the people she had cared for as a nanny.) (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend, enter the dragon

    January 19, 2012 @ 7:43 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Film: Huzzah! One of the downpoints of last year was the closure of the LightHouse cinema in Dublin, so we’re delighted to see it is re-opening its doors on Friday night, after Element Pictures was announced as its new operator earlier this week. Expect it to become the cultural centre it always had the potential to become and bring some life to the area. Plus it’s a damn fine excuse for a pint in the Dice Bar or dinner in L Mulligan grocer. The perfect night out? (more…)

  • The Theatre Awards panel – Culture podcast: January 19th

    @ 4:47 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Laurence Mackin talks to Jack Gilligan, Seona Mac Réamoinn and Christine Monk, the panel for the 2011 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, who discuss their selections and the blood, sweat and tears involved in judging 12 months’ worth of Irish theatre

    icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [20:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
  • A better foreign policy in literature

    January 17, 2012 @ 6:36 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    I have a bit of a gra for books and novels that have been translated. Maybe it’s the different approach that another language brings to description and prose; perhaps it’s the fiendishness involved in translating what appears to be an innocuous phrase, and subsequently turns into a can of linguistic worms; or maybe its simple, loathsome smuggery at being among the first to experience an author’s work – a hipster of the book world. “Villalobos? Yeah, I prefer his older stuff.” (more…)

  • The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards shortlist

    January 14, 2012 @ 10:15 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Here is this year’s shortlist for the most prestigious awards in Irish theatre. You can read more about the nominations and a Q&A with the panel of judges over here. Let us know what you think below the line.


    The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, directed by Conall Morrison for The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

    Misterman, written and directed by Enda Walsh, produced by Landmark Productions and Galway Arts Festival.

    Laundry, written and directed by Louise Lowe for Anu Productions.

    All That Fall, written by Samuel Beckett and directed by Gavin Quinn for Pan Pan Theatre.


    Patrick O’Kane as John Proctor in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, directed by Conall Morrison for The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

    Cillian Murphy as Thomas Magill in Misterman, written and directed by Enda Walsh, produced by Landmark Productions/Galway Arts Festival.

    Paul Reid in Man of Valour, written by Michael West, directed by Annie Ryan and produced by Corn Exchange Theatre Company.

    Philip Judge as Older Man in Trade, written by Mark O’Halloran, directed by Tom Creed for Thisispopbaby.


    John Olohan as Byrne in Big Maggie, written by John B Keane and directed by Garry Hynes for Druid.

    Rory Nolan as Commissioner in The Government Inspector, written by Roddy Doyle and directed by Jimmy Fay for The Abbey Theatre.

    Frankie McCafferty as Ivan in The Seafarer, written by Conor McPherson and directed by Andrew Flynn for Nomad Theatre Network and Decadent Theatre Company.

    Bob Kelly as Martin O Bonnassa/Osborne O’Loonassa/Gentleman/Others in The Poor Mouth, written by Flann O’Brien, adapted by Jocelyn Clarke and directed by Niall Henry for Blue Raincoat Theatre Company.


    Charlie Murphy as Eliza in Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Annabelle Comyn for The Abbey Theatre.

    Amy Conroy as Gina Devine in Eternal Rising of The Sun, written by Amy Conroy and directed by Veronica Coburn for The Irish Theatre Institute.

    Marie Mullen as Woman in Testament, written by Colm Toibin, directed by Garry Hynes for the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival and Landmark Productions.

    Aisling O’Sullivan as Maggie Polpin in Big Maggie, written by John B. Keane and directed by Garry Hynes for Druid.


    Dearbhla Molloy and Ingrid Craigie as Eileen and Kate in The Cripple of Inishmaan, written by Martin McDonagh and directed by Garry Hynes for Druid Theatre Company.

    Aoife Duffin as Abigail Williams in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, directed by Conall Morrison for The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

    Karen Ardiff as Aase/Green-Clad in Peer Gynt, written by Henrik Ibsen, in a new version by Arthur Riordan, and directed by Lynne Parker for Rough Magic Theatre.

    Caitriona Ní Mhurchú as Masha in 16 Possible Glimpses, written by Marina Carr and directed by Wayne Jordan for The Abbey Theatre.


    Conall Morrison for The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, produced by The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

    Louise Lowe for Laundry, written by Louise Lowe, produced by Anu Productions.

    Niall Henry for The Poor Mouth, written by Flann O’Brien, adapted by Jocelyn Clarke and produced by Blue Raincoat Theatre Company.

    Gavin Quinn for All That Fall, written by Samuel Beckett, produced by Pan Pan Theatre.


    Fight Night written by Gavin Kostick and directed by Bryan Burroughs for Rise Productions in association with Bewleys Cafe Theatre.

    No Romance written by Nancy Harris and directed by Wayne Jordan for The Abbey Theatre.

    Trade written by Mark O’Halloran, directed by Tom Creed for Thisispopbaby.

    Silent written by Pat Kinevane, directed by Jim Culleton for Fishamble.


    The Magic Flute, written by Mozart, directed by Annilese Miskimmon for Opera Theatre Company.

    Tosca, written by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Oliver Mears for NI Opera.

    La Cour de Celimene, written by Ambroise Thomas, directed by Stephen Barlow for Wexford Festival Opera.

    Maria, written by Roman Statkowski, directed by Michael Gieleta for Wexford Festival Opera.


    Adam Silverman for Misterman, written and directed by Enda Walsh and produced by Landmark Productions and Galway Arts Festival.

    Aedin Cosgrove for All That Fall, written by Samuel Beckett and directed by Gavin Quinn for Pan Pan Theatre AND Man of Valour, written by Michael West , directed by Annie Ryan and produced by Corn Exchange.

    Ciaran Bagnall for Guidelines for A Long and Happy Life, written by Paul Kennedy, directed by Michael Duke and produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company.


    Jimmy Eadie for All That Fall written by Samuel Beckett and directed by Gavin Quinn for Pan Pan Theatre.

    Mel Mercier for Sétanta, written and directed by Paul Mercier for Fíbín agus Amharclann na Mainistreach.

    Carl Kennedy and Tarab for Peer Gynt, written by Henrik Ibsen, in a new version by Arthur Riordan, and directed by Lynne Parker for Rough Magic Theatre.


    Joan O’Clery for Peer Gynt, written by Henrik Ibsen, in a new version by Arthur Riordan, and directed by Lynne Parker for Rough Magic Theatre.

    Peter O’Brien for Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Annabelle Comyn for The Abbey Theatre.

    Gaby Rooney for The Lulu House written and directed by Selina Cartmell for Siren Productions.


    Paul O’Mahony for Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Annabelle Comyn for The Abbey Theatre.

    Jamie Vartan for Misterman, written and directed by Enda Walsh, produced by Landmark Productions/Galway Arts Festival.

    Sabine Dargent for The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, directed by Conall Morrison for The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.


    Val Sherlock for consistent excellence in hair and makeup for Irish theatre.

    The Lyric Theatre, Belfast for bringing new energy to theatre in Northern Ireland by realising a landmark new theatre and revitalising a long tradition of excellence in performance.

    Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre for Rian, an innovative theatrical presentation of Irish music and dance performance created by Michael Keegan-Dolan and Liam O Maonlaí as part of the 2011 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

    Landmark Productions for sustained excellence in programming and for developing imaginative partnerships to bring quality theatre to the Irish and international stage.

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … go and visit The Family

    January 12, 2012 @ 7:02 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen: It’s an indie knock down, drag out dust up this weekend in Dublin, with a a full roster of rock gigs vying for your attention. In Whelan’s and the Village this weekend, the Ones to Watch festival is hoping to highlight some of the most promising acts that you might not yet have heard of. Leading the squad are The Gandhis, with Sleep Thieves, Bantum, Spies, Trophy Boyfriend, Tenaka, Futures Apart and Last Days of 1984 bulking out the main artillery. The festival is already underway and winds up tomorrow. (more…)

  • From the archives: an interview with Roberto Escobar

    January 9, 2012 @ 3:40 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Roberto Escobar, the brother of Pablo Escobar – the world’s most famous and perhaps most successful drug smuggler – has found a new niche job for himself. Following a career as chief accountant of the Medellín cartel and a lengthy spell in prison, he is now in the tourism business, welcoming people to his home to reminisce about the good old times . A few years ago, with the help of Fiona McCann, I interviewed him after the publication of his biography, and here is the piece from March 2009. There is no word yet on the effectiveness of his “cure” for Aids.

    ROBERTO ESCOBAR HAS THE voice of a man at peace. He answers questions in languid Spanish, down a crackly phone line, with a practised measure. “Nobody told me you were calling, but there’s no problem. It’s my pleasure to be at your service.” Escobar has all the time in the world to discuss his current work – curing Aids. Indeed, he claims to have found a cure, but cannot reveal the details because it is in the process of being patented. “We have found a medicine so that people in this world don’t have to die from that illness,” he says, “and in Colombia we have more than 100 patients totally uncontaminated now, who won’t contaminate any other human being on this planet.” (more…)

  • Competition: Battleship Tiomkin

    January 6, 2012 @ 1:17 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Alright so that half-pun in the headline is a bit of a stretch, but a) he’s Russian and b) it’s a bit late in the week to be looking for bursts of genuine creativity.

    Dimitri Tiomkin is one of the giants of Hollywood music. After abandoning his dreams of being a concert pianist, due to a broken arm, he concentrated on film scores and his credits include High Noon, Alice in Wonderland, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Guns of Navarone, Dial M for Murder and Mr Smith Goes to Washington. The Russian-born composer received 22 Academy nominations and won four Oscars – and no, that’s not even close to a record. Walt Disney won 26 Oscars, and is also the most nominated person. The second most nominated person in history? It’s a dead heat between composers John Williams and Alfred Newman.

    But we digress. Here’s a few examples of Tiomkin’s work in action.

    YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

    Next week, the RTE Concert Orchestra will perform a selection of his works in the National Concert Hall on Thursday, January 12th at 8pm, and we have a pair of tickets to give away. To win just pop an email to lmackin@irishtimes.com. We’ll notify a winner by this evening to get your weekend off to a great start.

  • If you only do one thing this weekend … say what you see

    January 5, 2012 @ 6:35 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    The living Dead: There’s more than a few Joycean themed celebrations this weekend, to coincide with the anniversary of The Dead. The story takes place in 1094 on the evening of the Feast of the Epiphany, which is January 6th, and there will be a recreation of sorts of the Misses Morkan annual musical gathering in the Gresham tomorrow night, featuring entertainment from some of Dublin’s most renowned Joycean performers. Tickets are €50, with proceeds in aid of Sweny’s, the pharmacy that is open to the public and run by volunteers. Sweney’s will also be holding readings tomorrow at 2pm, and admission is free. Click here for the necessaries.

    Selection box: The Nighthawks are getting 2012 off to an auspicious start, with a typically vibrant line-up in the Cobalt Café in Dublin on Saturday night. There will be poetry from Erin Fornoff, comedy with Conor O’Toole, Trevor Browne and Danny Dowling, and music from The Gandhis, Cat Dowling and Ailie Blunnie. It kicks off at 8pm, and it tends to sell out so get yourself some tickets from Oxfam on Parliament Street.

    Listen: Ram’s Pocket Radio, who you may have seen on the road supporting quintessential weirdo Darwin Deez, enter the New Year after an eventful 2011. Peter McCauley, a self-proclaimed “jack-of-all” fronts the critically acclaimed, piano-spined Lisburn four-piece. Their stop in Dundalk on Saturday night in the Spirit Store is the last chance to see them in Ireland before they cross the water to tour England, so pop along for a healthy dose of functional rock-pop inspired by functional product designer Dieter Rams. If you can’t make it, do take time to check out their free EP Trajectories, which can be downloaded from their Myspace page.
    - Aaron Meredith

    Too. Many. Heckles

    Walker, Nordie Ranger: For a grand auld start to the weekend, what could be better than hearing the comedy dealings of Roy Walker, who is playing the Black Box in Belfast on Friday? He is probably more famously known as the man who, for 13 years, was the host of Catchphrase. Walker has recently returned to the field of stand-up and is performing in Belfast as part of the Out to Lunch Festival, which is also hosting Richard Herring and Josie Long in the coming days. However, if you’re feeling like a bit more than comedy, the Black Box Café runs an excellent pizzeria (go for the ‘meaty’ slices) every Thursday and Friday. As part of the festival, Lionel Shriver is also in action on Sunday, with a cracking line-up for the rest of the week. Click here for more information.
    - AM

    A touch of class: If you fancy something a bit more smooth and a bit less loud (loudness being common with anything up North), the excellent Ulster Orchestra is playing its Viennese Gala at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast tomorrow and Saturday night, and then it’s off to Derry on Sunday to play at the Millennium Forum.
    - AM

    That’s our selection for the weekend, but as a final festive parting shot, here’s a link to something rather lovely. Actress Ruth McGill (she’s currently working on Alice in Funderland at the Abbey, and has finished filming What Richard Did, directed by Lenny Abrahamson) wanted to send her friends and her agents a thank you Christmas card, so she recorded a version of O Holy Night at home in her sittingroom. It’s so good, though, that it’s being flying around social-media websites at a rate of knots. We reckon were just about the right side of January 6th to get away with this. Click here for the Soundcloud.

  • Arts funding, bursary deadlines and upskilling in 2012

    January 3, 2012 @ 10:28 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    The clock is now ticking for those looking to get funding this year from the Arts Council. There are three main deadlines that arts practitioners need to bear in mind, but the major date is January 19th. That is the closing date for awards in the following bursaries: architecture, arts participation, dance, film, literature, music, theatre, traditional arts, and visual arts. So start the New Year in style and get a funding application in, whatever your level of experience or the nature of your project. (more…)

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