O'Connor one of five new Aosdána members


WRITER AND broadcaster Joseph O’Connor, whose novel Ghost Lightis Dublin’s One City, One Book choice this year, was one of the five new members elected to Aosdána yesterday.

The others elected at the annual general assembly were playwright and novelist John Arden, architect John Tuomey and visual artists Corban Walker and Daphne Wright.

There was a sixth space available, which was not filled, as nobody else under consideration reached the required number of votes.

Aosdána was established by the Arts Council in 1981 to honour artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland.

At 82, John Arden is the most senior in age of the new members. Based in Galway, his work includes the play Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance: An Unhistorical Parable (1959)and the novel Silence Among the Weapons: Some Events at the Time of the Failure of a Republic(1982), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Among the many buildings John Tuomey – in partnership with Sheila O’Donnell – has designed are the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar and the Ranelagh Multidenominational School.

Corban Walker, who has been based in New York since 2004, will represent Ireland at the Venice International Art Biennale this year.

Daphne Wright has had a number of solo and group shows, including large-scale video installations, and collaborations with artists working in other disciplines.

As is traditional, the new members were elected during the morning’s closed session.

Membership of Aosdána is capped at 250 and there were an estimated 120 members present yesterday.

The afternoon session, which is open to the public, appeared to have no members of the public present, however.

The most unusual motion of the afternoon came from playwright and novelist Margaretta D’Arcy. “The revolution begins with gardening,” she told members.

She then went on to propose this motion: “We call on Minister Quinn to ensure the continuation of the innovative changes in the primary school curriculum whereby children are taught through diverse art practices ranging from music to drama, from painting to gardening.”

A lengthy discussion about the merits of gardening ensued. This was a revised motion; the original motion circulated to members in advance had focused much more closely on gardening as an arts practice.

“The original motion was ludicrous in the extreme,” said composer John Buckley. “Including gardening might confuse the issue of the centrality of the arts in the education system.”

D’Arcy’s motion was passed unanimously, to a round of applause.

A motion was also carried for a minute’s silence for murdered PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.