FREE Arts and Culture of the South East
Barnstorm Theatre Company Tom Climent Barrie Cooke
Under Pressure: Joe Ambrose on Art and the Recession Percolator Peter Murphyâ€™s revelations Eileen Gray
Issue 1, 2009
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Contributors Joe Ambrose David Banner Sarah Ryan William Lyons Joseph Kielthy Bernie Goldbach Photography Ross Costigan CaptainBeens Dylan Vaughan Front Cover Pit by Helen Ivers. Kildare Artist Helen Ivers strong images were a highlight of last years arts show at Waterford Institute of Technology. Design www.designassociates.ie Editor Brendan Maher The views expressed by individual writers are not necessarily those of start magazine. start welcomes contributions from writers in the South-East area. Please contact the editor in advance, at the address below. startmagazine The Heritage Centre, Main Street Cashel, Co. Tipperary Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.startmagazine.ie Thanks to all at the Heritage Centre and Town Council in Cashel for their support. start is published by startmagazine limited © startmagazine 2009 Printed by Lionprint, Cashel www.lionprint.ie start is supported by The Arts Council, South Tipperary County Council and Cashel Town Council.
contents 02 Editorial 03 News: A look at what’s happening in the cultural arena in the South East over the coming months 06 Writer Peter Murphy talks to start about growing up in Wexford and how his debut novel ‘John The Revelator’ came about. 10 New Media: Bernie Goldbach tells us about how the web has provided his students with another layer of peer assessment. 12 A chair worth over €21m? Enniscorthy born designer Eileen Gray is in the news again almost thirty years after her death. start profiles her and looks at that chair. 15 Joseph Kielthy meets respected Waterford group Percolator and finds out about their forthcoming release. 18 In his diary piece, Joe Ambrose fires off a missive against the wastefulness that exists in the arts. 20 Free will, eh? William Lyons looks at the possibility that such a concept could actually exist in his ongoing Lost in Thought column 21 Reviews: Tom Climent at Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford; Barrie Cooke at the Butler Gallery; Barnstorm’s ‘Boy and a Suitcase’ at the Watergate, Kilkenny; Contemporary Norwegian Crafts at the Crafts Council Gallery, Kilkenny and more…
editorial HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. Dave: Why not, HAL? What’s the problem? HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
’m typing this editorial on a netbook, a small screened ultra-light computer that, given it’s name is probably only suitable for browsing the web and not for such memory gorging tasks as putting together a magazine. This computer however, only a month out of it’s box has already developed signs of malady and idiosyncratic behaviour. Say, if I put the cursor on any random link or tab, it might take it upon itself to open that link or folder. Or if I move the cursor across text, it will select the text despite not being charged to do so. In this way, I spend much of the time closing down whatever has had a chance to be opened or returning to my original point of departure. I expect I spend about five per cent of the time addressing these and the other quirks that this computer has brought with it. It’s rare to see such activity, which I realise on the scale of things is relatively minor. In a conspiratorial mood, I would wager that HAL-like, the computer has designs to thwart my activity. But I regard the disruption as a small issue, like a creaking door or flagstone that is a centimetre above a true horizontal plane. Can I stand the noise? Will I be tripped up? Should I worry? The computer is just a thing I will have to get on with (and it with me). I recently watched a film of the Fleadh Ceoil,
beautifully shot by Louis Marcus and Kevin Sheldon in Ennis in the 1960’s. It showed a pre-technocratic Ireland, where music and downing porter were of the utmost concern and everybody was taking it easy and slow. We’ve got a little bit more uptight since then and insist on having things done in an orderly and proper way. The EU wants it that way too, so while we go along, with this, every now and then, our nature – a human nature indeed – gets the better of us and maybe when no-one is looking, we revert to type. Maybe my computer is a little like that. It’s exhibiting post-technocracy symptoms. Even it, as a machine, is accepting that things can go wrong, some of the time. It’s realised that error and chance are part of life. It’s evolving. A few years ago, I might have brought it back to the shop and with veins popping demanded a refund, as if some personal sleight had been sold along with the errant machine. But I think I’ll take a leaf out of sixties Ireland and let this computer go it’s own sweet way now and then. Who knows what could happen? Brendan Maher Editor start is now available on-line at www.startmagazine.ie
olm Wilkinson performs his show ‘Broadway and Beyond’’ at the Wexford Opera House on the 27th June. Wilkinson received international acclaim as Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ in the 1990’s. This exclusive show will feature Broadway numbers such as ‘Music of the Night’, ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘The Impossible Dream’ and ‘Hello Young Lovers’. Wilkinson will also perform some Irish favourites as part of the show. Details from; www.wexfordoperahouse.ie
ide and Seek is an exhibition of work by two artists responding to their own illness. The pieces by Gypsy Ray and Laura Gladney will be on show in Waterford Regional Hospital and the WHAT Centre for Arts and Health until the 18th June. Both artists are outpatients at the hospital; Gypsy is a breast cancer survivor and Laura suffers from the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythemathosus (SLE). Both Artists use image making as a means of investigating and understanding their specific illnesses, where words can rarely offer a complete explanation
he 29th of May is the closing date for applications for the Ted and Mary O’Regan Bursary. The Bursary was originally set up by friends of the couple with the intent to support those working in or studying the Arts. Interested applicants can pick up an application from the County or City Arts Offices (Old Market House, Dungarvan or Greyfriars Gallery Waterford), from Garter Lane Arts Centre or download a version from the Waterford Youth Arts website: www. waterfordyoutharts.com
Photo: Joan Marcus
Chilblain 1 by Laura Gladney Oil on Canvas
he comic detective serial Vultures created by Kilkenny based film production company Mycrofilms wrapped its final three episodes in March of this year. The entire project was funded by the Kilkenny County Council Arts Office since early 2007. The last instalment is a two part episode entitled ‘Attack Of The Pinkertons’ and ‘The Long Goodbye’ - essentially the sixth and seventh episodes in the series which will see our beleaguered detectives go to war with the smoother and more stylish Pinkerton detective franchise and their leader, the mysterious Natalie Blaise. Updates leading to this finale are on:www.vulturesPI.com
tsushi Kaga, who exhibited at the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny in 2008 worked with young people in Clonmel for the Junction Festival participation project in March and April. The outcome will be visible on large scale banners the streets of the town during Festival week 4th – 12th July
Photo: Ross Costigan
ublin Architects Boyd Cody won a prize for their design for a house in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny at the recent Architectural Association of Ireland Awards
nited Technologies is the title of the annual exhibition at Lismore Castle Arts and runs from April 23rd – September 30th. Curated by Philippe Pirotte, Director of the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, it features works from five important artists - Stefan Brüggemann, Rita McBride, Corey McCorkle, Jason Rhoades and Ai Weiwei –and looks at the relationships bet ween ar t, design, architecture, nature and technology using the backdrop of the Castle in Lismore. Details on the exhibition and its’ opening hours from www.lismorecastlearts.ie
lonmel photographer John Crowley launches his exhibition ‘Facing The Mannequins’ at Tipperary Institute in Thurles on May 7th. The exhibition features a series of shots of showroom dummies from Ireland and Europe with Crowley investigating the social and cultural representations brought up by these blank creatures. For a preview go to: www.crowleyphoto.com
he dramatic narrative of The Ros Tapestry was fully revealed in early April at Ros Expo, a permanent exhibition space for the tapestry in a dedicated exhibition centre in New Ross, Co. Wex fo r d o p p osi te t h e D u n b r o d y F a min e S hip. The tapestr y tells the stor y of a dif ferent aspect of the Norman influence on Irish heritage (with particular emphasis on Isabel de Clare and William Marshal, the Nor man Earl of who founded the town of New Ross in 1207).Work on the tapestr y itself was begun in 1998 and involved hundreds of voluntar y embroider y enthusiasts to bring the individual panels to completion. Ros Expo will be open all year round to visitors. More details from: www.rosexpo.ie
Interview Brendan Maher
ixteen year-old John Devine lives in a rural Irish village with his mother, Lily. It’s a common world of petty betrayals and small town politics. John is obsessed with worms and parasites and anything that crawls. This makes for a solitary existence but John’s life is turned on its head with the arrival of Jamie, who he makes friends with immediately. John is conflicted between his friendship with Jamie, the possibilities it offers and his mother’s needs.
ok Of Revelations Peter Murphy’s debut novel ‘John The Revelator’ has garnered a clutch of healthy reviews. We spoke to him about growing up in Wexford and the books’ influences. start 0
START: You grew up in Enniscorthy. What was that like and how does it relate to the book? PM: I lived in Enniscorthy until I was twenty two and really had one of those classic 70’s childhoods. We lived a bit outside the town, and the door was left open and you could wander at leisure. At that time, that cult of parenthood hadn’t set in where parents thought it was their duty to entertain their children. So you were left to wander and it was quite benign, quite a safe environment. The landscape in the couple of miles around my house was and still is eerie. It has a Tolkienesque quality to it and the combination of that and the fact that I was interested in reading science fiction comics and seeing horror movies created an impression in my mind. A lot of people say that the best part of anyone’s autobiography are the first sixty pages and that may be the true with a lot of novels, too. Your childhood worldview is very impressionistic and not naturalistic at all. And in the book I’m attempting to recreate an imaginative view of the terrain of my childhood, rather than describe accurately the landscape. I would have grown up in the midlands in Ireland, too and it often struck me that it was similar in some ways to middle America – – Without the glamour! Without someone like Ted Nugent or Aerosmith blowing through sometimes. When I was old enough to read Flanner y O’Connor, there was an awful lot that resonated for me – the quare characters, the salty language – all that felt really familiar to me. Even reading Stephen King, Steinbeck or Harpur Lee and some Scottish writers, I had that similar feeling. I think it might relate back to the folk traditions that we share. You went to Dublin after school? Yeah, I played in a couple of bands from around here first and then really I went to Dublin to follow the music, maybe to play in a band there. There was a sense of being marginalised when you were from the country. This was before the internet and MySpace. But I found out that the
musicians weren’t any better or any smarter in Dublin. I settled in Dublin and remained there and had a family. How did you end up working for Hot Press? Well I reached a stage where I realised that the music just wasn’t a runner anymore. That I couldn’t support myself. And that being a drummer in a band wasn’t going to be a life. When I took up journalism, I saw that the amount of money you earned related in some way to the amount of work you did. So I devoured writers like Tom Wolfe, Lester Bangs, Charles Shaar Murray. I threw myself into it for about five or six years. It taught me discipline and the value of a deadline. I was kind of lucky in a way, I never sat around thinking I wanted be James Joyce, I just did the work. But after a time, there was a niggling, a gnawing to tell stories or create worlds and that couldn’t be done through the medium of journalism. I still love journalism, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life transcribing other people’s words. So I tried to teach myself about writing stories. In relation to the mechanics of getting published, you signed with agent Marian Gunn O’Connor. How did you approach that? A friend of mine gave me her address and I sent her some samples and she wrote back and said she liked them. Marian, I think, functions as much on instinct about a person as much as the work. I think she felt there was enough there to put a bet on me. I signed with her in 2002 and she was very patient as I tried to find out which book it was should be written first. The turning point for me came when I hooked up with some other writers of my own age. The only other writers I met were those I interviewed and they were usually a generation ahead and I didn’t feel comfortable getting critiques from them So I cast about for writers who were in the same boat as me and met up with Nadine O’Regan Sean Murray and Jane Ruffino. It was very unpretentious; there was no reading – we would email each other sections of what we were working on and then show up on the appointed evening. We’d have
Philosophy the pieces printed out and make notes on each others work. So if your chapter was up on an evening, you’d go home with three other people’s notes after discussing it for a couple of hours. They were suppor tive and kind and quite merciless, but it sped up the process for me. It was like an adrenaline jab. It was crucial too in that it made the work public. When the book was done, when everyone said it was ready, I sent Marian the first draft. She passed it to Faber, specifically to Angus Cargill, who she thought would understand the musical references in the book and the world it related to. The theme of the book is very interesting in that John Devine’s journey takes place at home – the journey is localised. You know I didn’t consiously realise that that was the shape of it. It was a process of feeling my way around it. As the characters developed they seemed to determine the kind of story it would become. The instinct of my three readers was for me to keep it understated. The subject matter is powerful enough. One of the touchstones for me was watching Terence Malick’s film ‘Days Of Heaven’, especially listening to the narration. It’s kind of a quiet hero’s journey. Perhaps, in a way there’s nothing heroic about it. It’s just the ordinary things that everybody does. Some people are surprised by the quietness in the book. But it’s like the way I felt when I heard Mercury Rev’s ‘Deserter Songs’ or Arcade Fire’s first album. It the inobviousness of them. It’s the haunting quality that lingers. That’s the mood I was after. The relationship between music, literature and film as influences for the book – is there any one of these that takes precedence? The emotional directness of music is extraordinary to me. In a way, there’s always an intent on my part to match music to words. Sometimes I hear a song and I wonder how could I capture that emotional quality using words. For the book, I tried to keep the mechanics of music
out of it; I didn’t want to write about the business, but I wanted to keep the strange effect it had on me. If l lost my bearings or forgot the mood of the book, I would listen Arvo Pärt or Godspeed You Black Emperor and that kept me on track. You did some work with JT LeRoy, Laura Albert recently. What was that in relation to? Myself and Laura or JT as she was then, collaborated on a journalistic piece. There was a couple of things we did together. (Leroy ostensibly a male writer with a colourful past which was used as source material for his work, was exposed as Laura Albert - Ed) It kind of annoyed me when the story blew up about her, that everyone seemed to forget how generous she was with her contacts. The whole thing with her seemed to revolve around a cult of personality issue. What’s next for you? I’ve almost finished recording an album version of ‘John The Revelator’. We’ve taken two and three minutes segments and set them to music. It’s not an audiobook or anything like that. I love spoken word recording, things like Burroughs ‘Dead City Radio’ or Kerouac or Ginsberg’s readings. On our recordings, the music is not subservient to the words of vice-versa, so I think you could play it for itself, for pleasure. It’s kind of like an audio film. It runs parallel to the book. We’re mixing it now and will decide what to do with it, whether to release on the internet or as an album. I’m also working on a novel. The novel is always there. The novel will not play mistress to the rest of one’s life. But it’s different writing this one. There’s an excitement knowing that there is another story to tell John The Revelator is published by Faber and Faber
Tutor Bernie Goldbach says students at Tipperary Institute complement their studies with peer assessment in cyberspace
Peer 2 Peer T
ipperary Institute’s Digital Expression Exhibition opens on Thursday, 23 April capping another year of creativity on the Clonmel college campus, sitting astride the N24 Ring Road. Entries vary from digital prints; black and white photography, video, animation, and soundscapes. This year, conceptual documentary photographer David Creedon will complement the event as the guest speaker for the opening night. Creedon will also serve as a judge of the work displayed. Photography has evolved as a strong skill set with graduates of the creative multimedia degree programme in the Institute. Through several online production studios, multimedia students from the have enjoyed a continuation of classroom tutorials while immersing in support communities online. Rachael Cooke, a first year student, points to DeviantArt.com, a place where you can find “any kind of work, from photography to paintings.” Her online sketchbooks, still a work in progress, benefit from a support community that includes professional designers who use DeviantArt to showcase their own portfolios. “It’s such a friendly community,” says Rachael, now in her fifth month as a Deviant Artist. In the students curriculum, some of these ar tistic skills occasionally morph from posters to templates for web pages. The entire range of skills, from photography through graphic design to encoded web page templates, has emerged as part of the core skills expected in today’s competitive web designers. Sharing one’s photography online has evolved into another effective method of enhancing creativity. In a podcast recorded for her Social Media module, Mary Lally cited the photo-sharing site Flickr.com “because it’s an easy way to find people with the same interests as you.” Flickr, part of Yahoo.com, includes clever ways to tag images with information. Searching for “Tipperary” on Flickr provides intriguing evidence of how international visitors see the local landscape. “It’s like getting to see perfect vantage points before you walk the land,” says
Kitty V’Marie, a web developer from Arizona whose work appears in the Flickr photostream next to several Tipperary students. Work on images for Digital E xpressions often start with pen and paper. Michael Garrett, a mature student on the BSc programme, challenges whether one should start with a computer when trying to craft their digital expressions. Garrett uses evidence from Moleskinerie.com to make his point. The online Moleskinerie community revolves around traditional sketch books, pen, pencil and water colours. Although presented on screen, “it’s a place where you can see the work of artists as they develop the pages in their journals.” In fact, flicking through the online collections of Moleskine notebooks often sparks creativity for traditional artists. All these online destinations emphasize creative inspiration alongside the community values of sharing and collaborating. In many cases, the online communities can help monetise a throwaway idea. For example, most logo designers will whip off six or seven designs for clients before a final selection works its way to the top. What to do with the leftovers? Sean O’Grady, a talented first year web developer, suggests Logopond.com because of its professional and amateur critiques. Getting a variety of meaningful comments helps combat time pressures when ploughing through creative tasks. Teresa Amabile of the Entrepreneurial Management group at Harvard Business School, has discovered that people are the least creative when they're fighting the clock and unable to focus on the work without the distraction of pressure. By diffusing the pressure through the support of an online collective, a creative can often produce things more efficiently The Digital Expressions Exhibition will run through the end of May at TI’s Clonmel Campus and the still photography and artwork will be open for public viewing through the end of the summer.
Black and Red by Rachel Cooke from her DeviantArt.com start 11
The Dragon’s Chair
n the midst of a global recession, Pierre Berge, partner of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent offered their collection to Christies for Auction in March. Crowds gathered at the Grand Palais in Paris to view the pieces in the collection in advance of the sale. Included were paintings by Mondrian and Picasso, as well as a large collection of furniture and rare objets dárt. There was some controversy over a pair of animal sculptures, which were believed to be originally stolen from the Summer Palace in Beijing during the 1800’s. Chinese officials requested the artworks back, but in the end they were put under the hammer and bought in controversial circumstances. Eileen Gray’s two foot high Dragons Chair designed and made in 1917-18 while Gray was in London was expected to fetch under $5m but eventually was sold for $28.3m breaking the world record for a piece of 20th Century furniture. Intriguingly the piece was bought by Paris dealer Cheska Vallois, who had originally sold the piece to Laurent in the first place. Vallois said the piece was purchased on behalf of “an extraordinary collector. It‘s the price of desire.”
Wexford born designer Eileen Gray was lauded in the latter years of her career and now the recent sale of one of her original chairs for over €20m has put her work in the ascendent again.
The Price Of Desire I
t was at an auction sale in 1972 of her friend Jean Doucet’s house contents that Eileen Gray’s forgotten work was brought to prominence and it is an auction sale again, in 2009 that has returned her to public consciousness. The youngest of a family of five children, Gray was originally born Kathleen Eileen Moray at Brownswood House, a Georgian pile, near Enniscorthy in County Wexford in 1879. The children were renamed Gray after her mother’s wealthy family. It was this wealth that allowed the young Eileen to spend time between family homes in London
and Ireland and travel with her father, a keen amateur painter who took her with him on European trips. Eileen, bitten by the bug too, decided to study the Slade School of Art and was one of the first women to attend there. Gray’s painting studies at Slade faltered as she developed a new interest in design and specifically lacquer work, after spotting some oriental screens in a shop in Soho. She was apprenticed to the owner and developed skills in the technique. This led to her meeting with another Japanese lacquer artist in Paris, called Sugawara, following her move there. She persuaded her mother to increase
her allowance and eventually bought a house on the Rue Bonaparte, where she continued her work. In 1913 she exhibited her panelled work at the Salon Des Artistes Decorateurs. Gray received a limited number of commissions following this, however the outbreak of World War One caused her to return to London, Sugawara in tow. Commissioned to design an apartment in 1917, she returned to Paris and continued to develop a strong geometric style. The work on this apartment brought her good notices in the city’s newspapers and magazines. She continued to work, however Gray’s interests again changed, this time towards architecture, the comments of the great Le Corbusier about that apartment, perhaps turning her head and she began to work with Romanian architecture critic Jean Badovici specifically on a house in the South of France. The austerely titled E-1027, coded to relate to both partners, was set on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean in Roquebrune-Cap-Martine and was to be
a vacation home. The flat-roofed L-shaped building was carefuily constructed after consideration of the sunlight and view. Gray wished that the structure would question the external and internal notion of a house and that both would flow together. Visitor Le Corbusier was attracted to the house and attempted to purchase it in later years. He famously added a series of murals on the stark white wall of the interior, much to Gray’s chagrin. However, in E-1027 Gray formalized many of the ideas she had about design and living, She created a range of modernist tubular furniture such as coffee tables, chairs and sofas that were included in the house. In 1929, the family link with Brownswood House was severed when Eileen sold the house and estate of twenty-four acres to the Wexford Board of Health. The House has since been added to and existed variously as a sanitarorium and the County Medical Hospital and now acts as the local Gaeilscoil – Meanscoil Gharman. While Badovici lived in E-1027 until 1956, Gray returned to wartime Paris, settling back in her house in Rue Bonaparte. She continued to work but her life centred on a smaller group of friends. In 1968 a magazine article written by Polishborn critic Joseph Rykwert praised her work and brought her back into the public domain. Manufacturer Zeev Aram, put some of her pieces, most notably the Bibendum Chair and E-1027 table – back into production. Gray gave the Aram Company sole rights to reproduce her furniture, before she died in 1976. In 2002, the National Museum of Ireland acquired Gray’s personal collection from the Rue Bonaparte apartment. This collection forms part of a permanent collection in the Decorative Arts section in Collins Barracks. Additionally the famous E-1027 house which had fallen into disrepair, is now undergoing some restoration works following the interest of the ‘Friends of E-1027’ – an international committee hoping to safeguard the house for the future More information: www.museum.ie www.e1027.org
ns Photo CaptainBee
d n u o r G Coarse Joseph Kielthy meets with Water ford band Pe rcolator who while influ by the likes of My Bloo enced dy Valentine and Sonic Yo ut h m an age to create a unique feel to their mus ic. Here’s what Ian, Ellie and Jason from the ba had to say about their nd sound… make noise n all I wanted was to and stupid. Since the or come about? and be in a band. start: How did Percolat while now, me od go a er oth ch ea n Ian: We’ve all know d when we from a relatively ming for about a year an y difficult being a band ver it's ine ag im I and Ellie had been jam ems ver y at we were ford as the industry se gigs Jason was into wh small place like Water decided to start doing this to be a n, Cork. Do you find ying bass. centred around Dubli doing and ended up pla neral? s and recognition in ge problem for getting gig up k gigs and d pic fin to to r you sie ed ea pir Dublin it’s which first ins Of course if you live in What was the music r first couple of yourself. We played ou for me na a ke ma your guitar –? Year Punk d then we played tched the video, ‘The d to ver y few people an for ter Wa in s gig When I was twelve I wa d Youth an ford like Katie music shifted to Sonic with bands from Water blin Du d an rk Co in Broke’ and my taste in d of funny Thurston Moore was kin Dinosaur Jr. I thought star t 15
Kim and Ilya K and that helped us to gain interest from different promoters. What do you think of the music scene around Waterford and the South-East as a whole? I think some of the best Irish bands at the moment are from Waterford. I’m a big fan of Katie Kim, Ilya K, Deaf Animal Orchestra and Ugly Megan. I really like some of the new music that's coming out of the city. Black Robots haven’t played any gigs yet but you should check them out on MySpace. They’re gonna be great. In relation to gigs in Waterford there’s not a whole lot happening, Electric Avenue is the only venue so unless you like covers bands you’re only going to hear original music on a Friday night. Every summer we have the artbeat festival organised by the Waterford Arts Office. It’s an outdoor gig that takes place every Saturday in June, July and August. To promote it this year, each band is making a music video which will be on a compilation dvd, and it’s free, it's gonna to be good. You playing a Jaguar/Jazzma ster, the boy/girl vocals, the reverb heavy sounds of your songs is of course going to draw comparisons with My Bloody Valentine, how would you respond to this? It’s nice to be compared to My Bloody Valentine, they’re one of our biggest influences but we don’t want to be the MBV rip off band. I like to use reverb, delay and equalizers because they make my guitar sound like a completely differen t instrum ent. I use a Jaguar and Jazzma ster because they sound great when I use alternate tunings and I can create different sounds with the tremolo system. Jason: There are certain songs which have an obvious MBV influen ce like ‘Binkle’, but I think if you listen to some of the other tracks you can hear a couple of different influenc es like Autolux , Stereolab, and I love Queens. I don’t really like MBV anyway. Was there any motive when you formed the band? As in, did you want to create a particular sound or did you just let it happen the more you jammed? Ellie: There was never any discussion about what we should sound like, it’s like anythin g. As your musical tastes change so do the songs you make. When the three of us started, old songs would change and new ones would fall together in the practice room. Jason: Well Ian and Ellie had been jamming and recording together for a while, and they also played a few gigs here and there. I really liked what they were doing and knew they needed a bass player, so my motive was just to join a great band.
star t 16
I read a while back that you were hoping to have an EP released around March. How is that coming along? Ellie: It’s grand so far, nearly done but might not be out till May. It’ll probably be on vinyl, we tried not to overdo it with production or even recording time. We’re starting on the next record soon enough too; we have the songs and there’s no point in sitting on them so we’ll bang out an album as soon as we get the time. How does your creative process work? Are the songs written as a band or more individually? Ian: Sometimes we jam around for a while and from there we'd form a song, and other times I'll make up a riff or half a song at home, or Jason will come up with a bass line or Ellie writes a vocal melody, so it's not always the same method. Jason: Well usually we'll just be practicing our set for a gig or whatever and then a jam will just happen out of nowhere and by the end of it we might have two or three close to finished songs. Vocals usually take longer and come along a bit later. MySpa ce is an importa nt part of music these days, especially for independant bands. How important has it been for you as a band? Jason: MySpa ce is really great for getting people’s opinions on your music and also for making contact s and getting gigs. For us, we got noticed by Michael Carr and that led on to us being booked to play at the Green Gathering festival and we then got to do an interview on his show on 96FM. So, it's can only be a good thing, I mean it's a lot of fun looking up new original bands especially in Ireland, where it's really hard to get noticed at all. What do you try and bring to a live show? Do you try and play the songs as close to as you have recorded them or do you change them? Also, do you ever play covers live? Jason: I just try to have as much fun as possible, this is my first time playing bass in a band, and yeah, making little changes live is great, I like jamming live too. Ian: Well genera lly when we are recordi ng we try to recreate a live sound without too many overdubs. It's hard to do everyth ing as a three piece so we use a sampler for feedback and background noise. We haven't thought about doing covers yet. Maybe someday To hear Percolator’s music and for more information on the band go to http://w ww.myspace.com/percolators.
Prize’ took plac e he four th annual ‘Choice Music venue and I was this March 4th at Dublin’s Vicar St rd sets out to awa The e. ther be fortunate enough to in a given year although I find the best Irish album released vely at that claim as I look would raise my eyebrows aggressi ever, the nominees for How ers. through the list of past winn ed. These were Jape the 2008 prize were very strong inde s with ‘Fight Like Ape Like t Figh with their album ‘Ritual’, allion’, The Script Med en Gold the Apes and the Mystery of ‘White Lies’, R.S. A.G’s with ‘The Script’, Mick Flannery’s ther Way of Being There’ ‘Organic Sampler’, Halfset’s ‘Ano Mid -Range and Boost ,Opp enheimer’s ‘Take the Whole m the Word Go’, David it’, Messiah J & the Expert’s ‘Fro nigan’s - ‘Sea Sew’. It Holmes’ ‘The Holy Pictures’, Lisa Han rmed that unfortunately, began quite early and we were info Dav id Holm es and The Lisa Han niga n, Opp enh eim er, as they were not in the Script would not be able to perform there however, keeping country. Danny from the Script was , I’m not sure whether a watchful eye over proceedings. And a lot drunker by the time it was the fact that people were
Jeremy from R.SA .G got to the stag e, or down to the itself, most likely music , a bit of both, bu t he got a huge ap as he took to th plause e stage. When he star ted pounding drums, it was quite the mesmerizing, and he really does po the drums. I don’ un d t know what it is, but I couldn’t take eyes of f him, an m y d by the looks of things, neither co anyone else. It wa ul d s a great show. It was pret ty diffi to hear the voca cult ls, but that didn’ t mat ter as it wa all about the spec s re ally tacle. The backin g video displayed other instruments th e being played by sil houetted figures. flurry of hands an Th e d power of the pe rformance made exciting display. it an Plus, there was ple nty of dreamy co action. What mor wbell e could you want ? It was definite best live disp lay ly the of the night. W he n all the bands finished playing, had there was very lit tle waiting before winner, Jape, was the announced. Whe n Jape, i.e. Richie came on to give Egan, his speech, he se emed very surpris have won. He excla ed to imed that ‘this m onth’s rent will be for’. He seemed paid like a very nice, genuine guy and his speech with ‘’it en ded ’s better to be a sinking ship than jumping of f one.” a rat Indeed. In other news, W ater ford band Ily th eir new si ng le a K released ‘S he’s go t th e Lo nelie st Ey es (In World)’. It’s the th th e ird single from th e album Anaesthe Ad Infinitum which sia was released la st year. The track really very good. is It’s got a beau tif ul reverb laden which sits behind guitar the vocals, and pu nchy almost 80’s dr ums. Th e vo ca like ls ar e alm os t wh ispe re d in to th e wh ic h cr ea te s mic a lo ve ly do wn be at at m os ph er e contrasts beautif wh ic h ully with the up be at, sharp dr umm It’s particularly re ing. miniscent of 80’s sy nth pop, albeit ex tremely toned an down version. It’s most definitely wo listen and receive rth a s a huge thumbs -up from me Joseph K More: www.audioglory.co m
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’ve worked all over the arts. Like Hamri the Painter of Morocco once said to me, “In my life I have been through many doors.” Amongst other things I’ve – with varying degrees of commercial or artistic success – managed a punk rock band, run a book publishing company, produced records, made movies, organised international arts festivals, written books, taken published photographs, performed in a hiphop group, promoted clubs, curated art exhibitions, and edited magazines. Most of these activities were undertaken without public subsidy, bursaries, or the sort of free money that arts practitioners in Ireland have squandered like there was no tomorrow during the now-collapsed Golden Years of national profligacy. The one exception to this in my life was the period during which I ran the Irish Writer’s Co-Op, a publishing company subsidised to the hilt by the Arts Council so that we could publish the unpublishable, the unpalatable, and the unknown. In the early 80s I was in and out of the Council’s plush Merrion Square offices like a yoyo for meetings with the exceptionally decent and likeable Lar Cassidy, then the Council’s Literature Officer. That particular experiment, which involved the throwing of money at books which enjoyed limited commercial success, paid off because authors who did their first books with the Co-Op included Sebastian Barry, Desmond Hogan, and Neil Jordan. Not all of this state-subsidised writing made quite so big a splash and equally important first books by Adrian Kenny, James Brennan, and F.D. Sheridan are now semi-forgotten. But they needed to be published.
Art should be independent of all claptrap – should stand alone. James McNeill Whistler
I question whether work funded by civic funding bodies over the last decade was so deserving of crumbs from the public trough. I doubt the merit of much of it and, more importantly, I challenge the motivations which informed many a lavishly funded pseudo-highbrow initiative aimed at engineering a fantasy vision of a “New Ireland”. Irrelevant but edifying considerations such as multiculturalism, innovation-for-innovation’s sake, and the validation, in art, of the Northern Ireland peace process carried as much weight as artistic excellence or creativity. A class of cultural bureaucrats found it necessary to represent the imagined New Ireland abroad at all manner of conferences and forums where expense accounts were stretched to the limit by self-styled art experts (in reality Civil Servants With Attitude sporting expensive Belgian designer spectacles) who, such was their sense of their own gravitas, had to stay in five star hotels, stomp around the world in taxis, and be present in large numbers at every exotic global art-bash. One flagship arts centre, into which vast amounts of public money was throw, employed Dublin taxis to hand deliver, on the morning of the event, sameday invitations to an art opening reception.
The Art of start 18
The profligacy which informed the administrative side of the arts spilled over into the work being produced by a small metropolitan clique. All of a sudden people I’d last seen signing on at the local dole office were swanning around town in pricey Paul Smith suits. Black seemed to be the colour of choice for these suddenly lucky ambassadors for the New Ireland. Art projects came to resemble, or to run in parallel to, grant application forms. Certain people knew how to play the funding game like a Stradivarius and how to behave in the company of the new breed of the Arts Politburo members. I know of one flagship event where the funding/audience figures ratio was something like ¤1,000 per attendee. And I ver y much doubt if people getting money direct from the government can aspire to the spirit of independence and rebellion which must always be present in art. The people I’m talking about were perpetually looking over their shoulder to make sure their benefactors were happy with the work being forged. These days there’s lots of chatter about how bankers and other high priests of the now-discredited dispensation should be hauled before the courts to pay for their so-called crimes. People whose lives have come unstuck naturally want somebody to blame. In this case they’re blaming the priests for the activities of the cult of excess, arrogance, and gluttony in which they once wallowed like pigs in shit.
Some people never worked a day in their life, Don’t know what work even means.
As Ireland may soon discover, there is nothing wrong with a little austerity. In all art forms, a little starving in the garret is good for the soul and better still for the work being produced. People who make art which fails to command a commercial audience might consider taking a job – many of them are more than qualified for ordinary work – while creating their art in their spare time. If they did work, they might find that they actually had something tangible and concrete to write, paint, or compose about. Kafka worked as an insurance salesman, and a very successful one. Hamri the Painter of Morocco ran restaurants. Joseph Beuys was a university professor. T.S. Eliot worked in banking and publishing. Wannabe filmmakers toil in advertising. Composers write jingles. Guys in rock bands find employment as waiters and barmen. Working artists don’t need to live their lives like effete, worthless, popinjays. The raking in of public money by some artists and arts administrators was small-time by the egregious standards of the era. It’s wasn’t exactly illicit – everything was done in public and within the letter of the law – but I do feel that an angry public would be fascinated to learn about the manner in which reasonably big sums of money were flushed down the toilet by ego-driven nobodies. Perhaps a Late Late Show devoted to a Truth and Reconciliation-style forum wherein expense accounts and grants were analysed and criticised would, at the very least, be cathartic. It would certainly give rise to a realitybased theatrical experience with considerably more artistic validity than many useless white elephant projects and initiatives which these inept people presided over
Philosophy William Lyons wonders how free we really are.
ne of the greatest scientists of all time, Albert Einstein, wrote that; “if the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was travelling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will”. Alongside the negative claim that human free will is illusory, Einstein, in common with many contemporary scientists, argued for a completely deterministic view of the universe. This deterministic view claims that everything in the universe is wholly produced and shaped, that is to say determined, by its antecedent causes and so, in principle, any happening could have been predicted on the basis of perfect knowledge of its antecedent causes. For example, if a physiologist discovers that Fred lacks a coagulant in his blood (he is haemophiliac), this physiologist can predict that, if Fred cuts himself sometime in the future, his blood will flow without staunching itself. Likewise, so the story goes, if some super-scientist knew the whole story about her genes, upbringing, biography, and present environment, then that scientist could accurately predict that Daniela will have quatro formaggi ravioli for lunch tomorrow. The classical Free Will view, on the other hand, claims that, while generally speaking the universe is indeed deterministic, there is at least one exception, humans. Humans, common sense tells us, possess a free will whereby they can often oppose the deterministic pressures of antecedent causes. Tomorrow, even though her genes, upbringing and biography (she’s Italian and loves ravioli quatro formaggi) and her present environment (she’s in a ristorante), incline Daniela to order ravioli quatro formaggi, she doesn’t! On an absolutely unpredictable whim, she orders an omelette. The traditional battlefield in this philosophical war between free will and determinism is located inside humans, and the hand-to-hand fighting is between our brain’s neuronal
electro-chemical impulses and synaptic connections and our mind’s choices, intentions and acts of will. However, if we focus instead on a broader, external, evolutionary view of humans, this micro war seems irrelevant. As a first step, it is important to note that freedom is always freedom from. Moreover there are two basic forms of “freedom from”, namely freedom from external pressures and freedom from internal constraints. For example, at this moment, I am not in gaol, tied up, snowed in or otherwise confined. Also no one has a gun to my head. I have freedom from external pressures. In addition, at present I am neither physically nor mentally disabled. My choices are not constrained either by brain damage or by phobias, addictions or obsessions, and my menu of choices is limited only by my own failures of imagination. I have freedom from internal constraints. Just as we learn whether or not we are tall by comparing our height with that of others, so we humans learn how free we are by comparing our freedom with that of other creatures. Clearly humans have more freedom from external pressures than any other known creatures. Whereas, say, a Canada goose is determined by the fall in temperature and the lessening of daylight with the onset of autumn to migrate south, a human is free from such environmental forces. Most often we humans can live where we like, when we like. In the future we may even live on the moon or on the ocean floor. Humans also have more freedom from internal constraints than other creatures. Most animals, even when of sound mind and body, have a severely limited behavioural repertoire because they have a severely limited menu from which to choose what to do. Leopards are programmed to hunt, feed, sleep, fight, mate and rear their young. They can’t go on holiday, play tennis, listen to music, drive a car, bake meringues or do the crossword. However, given our capacity for overcoming physiological and environmental limitations, we humans can do all those things as well as fly to the moon and travel by submarine. But there is nothing magical about the scope of human freedom. It has evolved inch by inch over a very long time. Our distant hominid ancestor, Australopithecus, would have lived a life not much different from that of a chimpanzee. Even our much closer relative, who survived up to 30,000 years ago, Neanderthal Man, was nothing more than a hunter-gatherer with a cave, fireplace, sharpened stone weapons, and a short lifespan. We, on the other hand, build skyscrapers, electricity grids, weapons of mass destruction and find new ways to live longer. We have as much freedom as we need and more than we can cope with
Barrie Cooke ‘Mary Coughlin at the Baggot Inn’ – Oil on Canvas, 1988, 102 X 102 cms, Private Collection
ntering the launch of Barrie Cooke’s exhibition Portraits at the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny (March/April) one could sense the excitement of an expectant public. There were twenty paintings on show, work from the 1950’s through to 2008, and most of these well known writers and artists such as Leland Bardwell, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Cooke is known more as a landscape painter, or an artist who uses the land as a source material. In his career, he has travelled to Lapland, Borneo and New Zealand to pursue and view the elemental forces that make up his expressionistic vision. He resided in Kilkenny for twenty five years, before coming to Sligo where he has lived since 1990. Cooke’s ability to capture the essence in a few well chosen brushstrokes is a skill to behold. The earlier portraits from the 1950’s like ’Two Fowlers’ are dealt with in thicker layered paint, and this is slowly pared back to the wild haired wash of ‘Siobhan McKenna’ (1964) up to the more studied version of ‘John Montague’ (1990). This is not to suggest that there is a obvious linear progression to the work - that it moves and changes from style to definitive style. Instead Cooke’s seems to choose a way of depiction as the subject personally requires. Thus ‘Mary Coughlin at the Baggot Inn’ (1988) is a red-haired siren, hair cascading and framing her, almost enflamed within the image; the
blue background of writer Tess Gallagher’s portrait (2008) matches her eyes or Dorothy Cross (2004) is masked humorously within her portrait with a snorkel. In repetition, we see more. Two portraits of Dermot Healy from 2003 offer subtle physical and psychological difference – in one the sitter’s head and face are disembodied from the torso, in the other the figure is complete. This repetition and return (also in portraits and drawings of Heaney and John McGahern) is more evident Cooke’s landscape work where, images are excavated and pored over for all meaning as if there was a mistrust of a single image and the subject was required to be re-interrogated. Cooke’s use of paint always rests reassuringly on the side of success, but the opportunity for error must be immense, given the looseness, the almost cavalier mark-making. It is especially evident in the portrait of Harriet Leviter Cooke (1962) where the paint in one movement travels anticlockwise around the face, to rest casually at the left eye. There is no error and the viewer leaves safe in the knowledge that this artist has above all else control of the task he sets himself. (SR)
om Climent’s Dust (Garter Lane, Waterford, March April) was a salute to the cubist notion of the world, where a series of houses and structures were reduced to their near geometric basics. Climent however manages to manipulate this practical approach by adding a sense of foreboding with the buildings enveloped in a fog, a wraithlike isolationism. It’s a double-whammy, pure abstraction carries an emptiness at its heart, as it adheres to technique and formalism and Climent is adding this layer of mystery further removing the viewer from the work. But one is attracted to the mystery also. Like coming upon an empty old house, we question it’s abandonment and here is where our interest kicks in. We search for clues, fill in the gaps, make up the story. The paintings, acr ylics on canvas, show houses, church buildings, lighthouses - some in slate greys, others bursting with effervescent colour as if the bricks and mortar are inhabited.‘Cill Patrick’ is oxidised copper and red with an eerie white sky looming behind; ‘Capilla’ nestles a tower house precariously on a horizon line, against a martian dusk. The yellow and reds of ‘Sanctuary’ bleed from building into the outside, questioning interior and exterior.
Tom Climent ‘Winter, Spring’ – Acrylic on Canvas A l t h o u g h a w o r k l i ke ‘Ashlar’ might suggest otherwise, it’s not to say that the geometricity of the buildings are the only thing being questioned. Climent is not engaged in storytelling so much either. It’s perhaps that the works are historical paintings and reflect the flux that buildings are always engaged in. Yes we has the strength of structure, pushed through in abstraction, but we also have the doubt - even a spiritual doubt - that abstract objects might inherently have - that they can be returned by elemental forces (here at a stroke) to a non-existence. When the mist clears, perhaps they too will be gone. (BM)
e also dropped into Greyfriars Gallery in Waterford, where a section of the Sean Dunne Literary Week was being held. The exhibition was a module for BA in Design Communications students at Waterford Institute of Technology with the requirement to create a poster for the Festival. One of Dunne’s poems ‘Coastal Village, Sunday Night’ was to be the basis for the image. Illustration is a singular task in itself and requires a high level of skill to marr y to typography. One recognises that this is student work and in that regard, I thought that Shane Gavin’s use of newspaper and illustration for a chip van was well thought out. Others of note were Trevor Nolan’s glass drawings of a light-house and Martin Leahy and Sarah McCarthy’s woodcuts. (BM)
ontemporary Norwegian Arts and Crafts was the subtitle of Constructions a selection of work made by craft workers from that country at the Crafts Council Gallery (Kilkenny, April). Such a subtitle might make some viewers pause at the door, however this was on the whole fantastic work and was not held back or limited by any preconceptions this reviewer might have. There were a number of highlights for me: L ars Sture’s embroidered containers like beautifully subtle pin boxes; Lillian Dahle’s cherry wood bowl; Erlend L e i r d a l ’s e s c h e r - l i k e w o o d e n construction ‘After The Storm’; the totemic sense within Havard Larsen’s ‘Ántler Knife’ or the expert bringing together of the units within Liv Blavarp’s ‘Necklace’. Some of the pieces strayed casually into the contemporar y ar t realm, but remained visibly whole within that change of focus e.g. Anne Lene Lovhaug’s constructions around ready-made or found ornaments these new skins moved these objects into quirky and even profound areas. Marit Helen Akslen’s dress too, managed to offer a new viewpoint on this garment as a social indicator or memento mori, through it’s rigorous construction from two hundred and fifty mens’ ties. (SR)
Liv Blavarp ‘Necklace’ – Rosewood, dried maple, ebony, horn, 2007
az, the protagonist in Barnstorm’s new play The Boy With the Suitcase (Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, March) is a wide - eyed innocent with a penchant for telling stories. When we first meet, he is urging his father to tell him a story before he goes to sleep. His life’s reverie is interrupted by an incident which requires Naz and his parents to flee their home. Conflict has come to their village and the family become refugees. Naz links these ongoing familial journeys to the voyages of Sinbad and sees his future travels as somewhat similar to Sinbad’s. Lacking money, his parents decide to use their paltry funds to send Naz to Dublin, where his brother lives. This requires him to be wrenched from his parents and entrust himself to a variety of
unsavoury characters to get across borders and on boats to finally end up in Dublin to his sibling. Luckily Naz meets with Krysia, another lost but wiser soul on a similar journey and they both travel intermittently together. A central section in the play cleverly deals with the pair’s interrupted journey, where in an effort to earn money to recommence their travels, they work, essentially as child labourers in a tee shirt making factory. Of course the unscrupulous owner pays them only a subsistence wage and two years pass before they realise that they will never be free of the factory, given their limited income. Here and throughout the story Naz utilises his fathers stories to illuminate, entertain and ultimately escape from their predicaments.
T he four ac tor s (Paul Curley, Ceire O’Donoghue, Donnacha O’Dea and Ben Samuels) were uniformly good in multiple roles, with Samuels additionally performing a sort of a musical troubadour cum sound effects role to the side of the stage. The set was constructed around two poles with adjoining wires, that allow simple sails and mountains to be created as the scene requires. For 8 to 12 year olds, the play happily didn’t stray into audience pleasing flourishes, but told a simple story of hardship, that many children across the world face and overcome on a daily basis. As a completion, the play offered the notion that living in Ireland brought only a different set of challenges to be faced and not a promised land. (DB)
Barnstorm’s ‘Boy With A Suitcase’ featuring Paul Curley, Ben Samuels, Ceire O'Donoghue and Donncha O'Dea. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
omm Moore and Kilkenny’s Car toon Saloon’s animated f ilm The Secret of Kells arrived with some fanfare around St. Patrick’s week, receiving a lot of press interest. The stor y tells of Brendan, a boy brought to live in the monastery of Kells by his Uncle Ceallach, the abbot, following the slaughter of his village by marauding Vikings. The arrival of illuminator Brother Aidan (and with him the famous Book) causes concern and excitement in equal measure as the Abbot’s main concern is the protection of the monastery itself as distinct from the preservation of knowledge. Warned not to leave the Abbey, Brendan secretly travels into the forest to pick berries for the
ink to colour Aidan’s book. Here he meets the forest spirit Aisling who later aids him in locating a crystal eye from the fearsome Crom Cruach. The crystal helps Brendan and Aidan in completing the intricate work of the famous Chi Ro page. They flee the monastery when the Vikings at tack again, keeping the book with them. As they travel Brendan and Aidan finish the book. Later, Brendan now a young man returns to the Abbey in Kells with the completed manuscript. T he animation in T he Secret of Kells’ is lovingly rendered. It’s flat, two dimensional work, stylistically reminiscent of the Book of Kells or sometimes composed like stained glass window panels. Disney it’s not and it takes its tack from a
Reviewers: David Banner, Sarah Ryan and Brendan Maher.
more European form of animation (a Belgian company was co-producer). W h a t fo r s o m e mi g h t seem like a mini-history lesson, is for this reviewer a chance to put an Irish story in animation on screen. Ever y thing here is unashamedly related to Ireland, from the mixture of paganism to the banishment of darkness through the developing Christianit y to the arrival of the Norsemen. The manuscript is kept central in the story as it contains a repository of knowledge. The boy instinctively knows it’s importance. Happily too ‘The Secret of Kells’ is a film that will be passed onto future generations. Expect to see it on television for many St. Patrick Day’s to come. (DB)
arts and culture magazine for the south-east of Ireland. Quarterly - issue one of 2009