This year The Irish Times is celebrating our creative culture for one night of installations, talks and events in Merrion Square, home to some of Ireland’s most elegant Georgian houses, many of which are now in office rather than residential use. In his recent Irish Times article, Frank McDonald reignited the conversation about how we actually use and relate to this unique part of the capital.
Each house has a small basement yard that in many cases can be accessed by a flight of steps from street level. Most of these yards are empty, unremarkable spaces that could be used for so much more. Instead they are dead and abandoned looking. These little yards, so typical of our city, are all spaces just waiting for something to happen.
On Culture Night The Irish Times is going to imagine what that something might be and we invite you to experience our creations with us. We will be bringing the basements to life with art exhibitions, pop up gardens, instant cafes, venues for readings and discussions, interviews and broadcasts, film showings, music coming from inside out through open windows, mini plays and a treasure hunt for our younger participants
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"Dine in the Dark" is a food tasting experience like no other - eight people at a time will enjoy a blindfolded sitdown dinner. The menu? A variety of delicious dishes - cooked by chefs Robbie Krawczyk of Tankardstown House, Cathal Dunne of Balfe's and natural chef Nicky Halliday - chosen to illustrate the impact of sense isolation on our taste buds, and promises to be a feast for the senses. You won't be able to see anything but your meal will be guided by neuroscientist Fiona Newell and a team from the Science Gallery. It's first come, first served on the night, so make sure and get there early. The first sitting is at 5pm, with a sitting every 30 minutes after that, until 10pm.
Basement No 63
Royal Society of Antiquaries of ireland
Fergal McCarthy's week on a desert island on the Liffey captured our imaginations back in 2011. Another water-based project saw McCarthy install floating Monopoly houses on the Liffey, and his personal odyssey through the rivers and swimming pools of Dublin manifested itself in his film
. For Downstairs Dublin he's installing a papier-mâché diving man into one of our basements - but has he filled the basement with Liffey water for his sculpture to dive into? That's anyone's guess.
Basement No 39
From the collective behind Inis Oirr festival
No Way Back
: a party for when the opportunity arises. Organiser Mary Nally was inspired initially by the Irish recession and subsequent desire to celebrate the creative, their first party took place in an underused arcade bowling alley in the west of Ireland. Earlier this year, Irish DJ émigrés Frank B, Lumigraph and Orlando Volcano brought the
No Way Back
buzz to Lower East Side New York. For Downstairs Dublin,
No Way Back
will be recreating the vibe in miniature. This funsize event comprises of five frenetic hours and five musical acts. With first come first serve entry and limited capacity, prepare for queue dancing.
Basement No 27
FASHION: A collaboration between Dublin's 9 Crow Street and The Tweed Project. Cutting-edge fashion alongside vintage thrills as models emerge from subterranean depths to walk the red carpet.
Basement No 22 The College of Anaesthetists of Ireland
FILM: Ireland's Smallest Cinema. In conjunction with the Galway Film Fleadh, Ireland's Smallest Cinema brings you a tasty slice of cinematic shorts from some of Ireland's most talented contemporary short filmmakers. From the ridiculous to the sublime and the hilarious to the heartwarming, these short dramas, animations and documentaries feature esteemed performers such as John Hannah and Brenda Fricker, alongside rising talent like Peter Coonan (Love/Hate). The dramatised days of a young Roy Keane, the story of a sentimental Grim Reaper, beautiful new animation from the Oscar-nominated Cartoon Saloon plus many more…all on the big screen, in the smallest cinema. Programmed by @wiiifitzgerald
Basement No 42 ESB
ART: Alan Phelan: Dublin-born Alan Phelan has exhibited internationally in galleries as diverse as SKUC Ljubljana and Galería Del Infinito Arte, Buenos Aires. On these shores you may have spotted his work at IMMA and Limerick City Gallery of Art. For Downstairs Dublin, he is recycling and re-contextualising his Moustache from 2004, which referenced the statue of a Portadown Unionist politician. A decade later, the re-titled Bosie's Bad Tasche refers to the doomed relationship between Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas and Oscar Wilde, something hiding in plain sight that serves as an oversized disguise for their relationship. The large papier-mâché moustache, constructed solely from Irish Times Death Notices, emblemises their obsessive, deceitful and ultimately fatal union.
Basement No 58 Notre Dame
KIDS: See the magical salmon of knowledge leaping out from beneath the streets in a Downstairs Dublin installation especially for families. You can post your Treasure Hunt and Drawing Competition entries here too – forms available on the Square throughout the evening, and with lots of mystery prizes to be won it's good fun too – how well do you know the Square?
Basement No 29 Corner of Merrion Square and FitzWilliam Street. ESB Georgian House Museum
GARDENS: Elements of Action presents a magical garden installation, a series of greenery and surface interventions that transform a neglected Merrion Square basement. Horizontally, fragments of green are laid and angled on the concrete floor. Vertically, specimen trees, grasses and filtering light combine to create an ethereal landscape. Visitors are invited to view this unexpected new landscape from above on the street, to look down into a hidden urban oasis. The aim of the installation is to celebrate Dublin's city spaces, to show how they can be transformed and showcased in new and creative ways.
Basement No 73 Irish Traditional Music Archive
Fashion: Louise Kennedy
Creative inspiration and installation by one of Ireland's leading fashion designers, right outside her own HQ.
Basement No 56 Louise Kennedy
ART: Nina MacGowan: Dublin-based artist Nina McGowan has been working since 2012 on Loitering Theatre, a collaborative project interrogating network cultures, strange architectures, pre-nostalgic moments and sci-fi futures made real. Her work has received coverage from the New York Times and hacker group Anonymous - it has also been the subject of censorship by the Irish police. For her Downstairs Dublin papier-mâché project, she is planning to subvert the existing architecture of the basement, working in an 'interventionist' manner with the physical space rather than the initial concept driving the project.
Basement No 16 Irish Red Cross
Art: Aideen Barry: As a nod to No 41's story as the home of the ESB, artist Aideen Barry creates an electrical drawing and text work installation - The luminiferous ether. One of Ireland's leading and most exciting contemporary artists, with an international reputation, Barry draws on inspiration from Nikola Tesla for her temporary luminous sketch, which will only be present for a moment, this one night of Culture Night. "All matter comes from a primary substance, the luminiferous ether." Basement
Basement No 41 ESB
MUSIC: Kaleidoscope: Curated by Lioba Petrie and Karen Dervan. Kaleidoscope is a monthly classical, contemporary and experimental music salon hosted by the Odessa Club. The Kaleidoscope programme for Downstairs Dublin will feature performances from Anima, All Ireland Flute Champion Robert Harvey and fiddler Ultan O Brien, a new force in Irish traditional music. The team behind the Dublin Fringe Festival's Tardigrade will perform snapshots of their hugely innovative work inspired by the eponymous micro-animal known also as 'waterbear'. The Tonnta Choir, contemporary vocal specialists and collaborators in the DFF 'Harp' production on the Samuel Beckett bridge, will wrap up the evening. Expect a unique and wonderful soundscape to emerge from the basement.
Basement No 40 ESB
VIDEO: Art Videos: Ailbhe Ní Bhriain is a Cork-based video and sound artist. Ní Bhriain's series of videos, entitled Great Good Places, take the museum and the office as their setting, using simple montage devices to create spaces suspended between the real and the illusory, and between surface and depth. The title is borrowed from the Henry James' short story The Great Good Place; the place conjured in the story acts as an escape for the overworked and the overwhelmed, is as odd as it is ordinary. Drawing on James' story, this work proposes the image itself as a kind of refuge, a state of suspension that might act as a Great Good Place. The installation will further draw out the sense of displacement within the work, creating an unexpected encounter with a time and place which are out of joint.
Basement No 70 The Arts Council of Ireland
ARCHITECTURE: A light installation in the Georgian façade of No. 77 Merrion Square, by resident architecture practice thirtythreetrees. Both windows in the light-well will be blocked up with laser-cut wood panels. The patterns then created are based on a particular grouping of trees in Merrion Square park, to create a seemingly random array of circles projecting beams of light.
Basement No 77 ThirtyThreeTrees
Fashion: The Gloss Event
Be a cover girl or boy with Gloss. Your chance to get your style on and make the virtual cover of Ireland's leading glossy magazine at this one night only world of glamour in a deliciously different basement space.
Basement No 64 Physio 64
Talk Show: Chats with Hacks
The Irish Times Talk Show and Library Lottery at the Downstairs Dublin Hub – The Irish Architectural Archive
Irish Times writers and other interesting people hang out in the specially created sitting room. Plus The Librarian hands out free books in the Library Lottery, which one will be yours? Click here for a full schedule.
Basement No 45 The Irish Architectural Archive