Nationwide arts events planned to celebrate brighter days as Ireland reopens

Light Ballet on the Shannon and VR films are part of 10-day Brightening Air programme

Actors Stephanie Dufresne, Victoria McCormack and Anna Mullarkey in Ar Ais Arís, three 180-degree films set in a virtual Connemara landscape. Photograph: Julia Dunin

Actors Stephanie Dufresne, Victoria McCormack and Anna Mullarkey in Ar Ais Arís, three 180-degree films set in a virtual Connemara landscape. Photograph: Julia Dunin

 

Light Ballet, a continuously moving light installation on a 15-metre vessel floating down the River Shannon through eight counties over eight days in June, is planned as Ireland tentatively reopens. The spectacle of light and sound by Culture Works, with music by David Kitt, transforming skies and countryside from dusk, is part of a 10-day nationwide season of arts experiences, Brightening Air/Coiscéim Coiligh, which the Arts Council is planning as a national celebration of renewed optimism and brighter days ahead.

Details of the line-up from June 11th-20th will be announced on Wednesday on brighteningair.com, with free events, both live in person and at home. It’s planned as a response to emerging from pandemic, to bring meaningful arts experiences – created by Irish artists and organisations – to people where they live, whether in towns or on the periphery, the islands and Gaeltachts and at home.

Funded by the Government of Ireland and produced by Schweppe Curtis Nunn, Brightening Air will be on rivers, in front gardens and botanic gardens, at quaysides, on islands, at handball alleys, in apartment buildings, swimming baths and arts venues around Ireland, and digitally on phones and screens.

Handball alleys

CoisCéim Dance Theatre’s In the Magic Hour is dance installations at dusk in handball alleys – “airy spaces that are natural, honest and unadorned” – in five counties, which viewers can tune into remotely, with limited tickets for live performances (pending Government guidelines).

The public can “order” an Art Gift on an app during Cork Midsummer Festival, and a singer/actor/dancer/circus performer “delivers” a 10-minute performance on their doorstep.

Musician Caoilian Sherlock delivers an Arts Gift to the Niezgoda-Gambardella family - Frankie (3), Valentina, Jed and Quilan the dog – as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2021 in association with Brightening Air/Coiscéim Coiligh, a nationwide, 10-day season of arts experiences brought to you by the Arts Council.
Musician Caoilian Sherlock delivers an Arts Gift to the Niezgoda-Gambardella family - Frankie (3), Valentina, Jed and Quilan the dog – as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2021 in association with Brightening Air/Coiscéim Coiligh, a nationwide, 10-day season of arts experiences brought to you by the Arts Council.

Among a range of other experiences around Ireland, Ar Ais Arís are three virtual reality 180-degree films by Brú Theatre set in virtual Connemara landscape, inspired by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Pádraic Ó Conaire and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and shown on VR headsets in Gaeltacht and island venues in Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry and Cork. Richard Mosse’s installations about the Mediterranean migration crisis are a triple-screen, immersive installation inside the new Butler Gallery at Evans’ Home in Kilkenny, and a 16-channel installation outdoors.

In Carlow, Woman in the Machine is an immersive exhibition about female pioneers in sound at Carlow’s Braun Factory site, and Waterford Walls will transform street murals into augmented realities, experimenting with public art.

Optimism

“The phrase ‘brighter days ahead’, abundant in our recent communications and conversations, has given us much hope,” says Arts Council director Maureen Kennelly. A key part of its response to emerging from the pandemic, Brightening Air “aims to add to our sense of optimism and spark our imaginations with new creative ambitions”, employing more than 150 artists and arts workers, and bringing exciting and exceptional experiences to audiences, she said.

It includes a national arts programme created by young people, Lasta, involving 21 young curators and arts venues across Ireland. What Did I Miss? by Ark artist-in-residence Shaun Dunne offers a window into children’s experience of the pandemic and milestones missed along the way, streaming to homes and schools.

On Wexford’s quay, a large-scale whale mosaic, the Blue Whale Hope, will be installed permanently, while the Ballad of a Care Centre is site-specific theatre, live and in VR, around the oral histories of older people in the Naas Care of the Aged Centre.

A City & A Garden are state-of-the-art audio walking experiences using a smartphone, exploring lives, stories and songs in the histories of city streets we walk daily. Another interactive digital experience is The Corner Of Scotsman’s Bay exploring the former Dún Laoghaire baths, while Mespil in the Dark is a surreal, voyeuristic investigation into the lives of eight artists living in a Dublin flat complex.