WB Yeats 2015

June 13th 2015 is the 150th Anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats, one of Ireland’s greatest ever poets and writers. There are countless events taking place to commemorate his life and work throughout Ireland but particularly in Dublin and Sligo, places with which he was very closely associated. But there are numerous commemorations occurring internationally from Singapore to New York.

Here are just a few public artworks from various locations in Ireland commissioned to remember his great legacy.

Bust of WB Yeats Sandymount GreenW.B. Yeats bust by Albert G. Power (1881-1945) in Sandymount Green, Dublin very close to where Yeats was born in 1865.

Dublin_St_Stephens_Green_William_Butler_Yeats_Memorial_02W.B. Yeats statue in St. Stephen’s Green by Henry Moore erected 1967.

Statue_des_Schriftstellers_William_Butler_Yeats_(2)Sligo and its surroundings were also a central part of Yeats life and writings. This is a recent work by Rowan Gillespie from 2013 in Sligo town centre.



Four Highlights For April

MrGilhooleyUnsuitable Irish art finally goes on public view – On view now

The Hugh Lane Gallery has recently acquired the once scandalous stained-glass artwork by Harry Clarke depicting Nelly the partially nude mistress of Mr. Gilhooley from the eponymous novel by Liam O’Flaherty. This is one of the original panels from the so-called Geneva window commission for the League of Nations but replaced by Clarke in the final completed work due to a hairline crack. On viewing the completed window then president of the Irish Free State WT Cosgrave did not think it suitable subject matter for public viewing. Go and see what all the fuss was about and revel in this beautiful pink and gold vision in stained glass from the vividly creative mind of Harry Clarke. It enhances the gallery’s other permanent display of Clarke’s wondrous Eve of St. Agneshttp://www.hughlane.ie/

Dona Antonia-Zárate_GoyaFlavours of Art: Spanish Evening at the National Gallery of Ireland – April 9th 2015

Pierrot_1921_Juan GrisAn introduction to the very fine highlights of the National Gallery’s Spanish collection, including masterpieces by Velázquez, Goya and Picasso, followed by a supper of Spanish specialities in the Gallery Café, with music by master Flamenco guitarist and composer from Cadiz, Juan José Manzano.


Blade_Runner_posterBlade Runner returns – In cinemas from April 3rd

Ridley Scott’s vision is a science fiction masterpiece, which has been much imitated but never equaled over the decades since its original release. The concepts, futurist imaginings and sheer visual bravura still resonate today with many of its key themes now proving wholly prescient. Like all the best science fiction it still evokes that thrilling sensation of partial recognition mixed with a slightly queasy encounter with a unique vision of the future. It has remained the ultimate cult movie and touchstone to a generation of designers, writers and filmmakers. Catch this timely re-release on a big screen where it was always meant to be viewed. http://lighthouse.admit-one.eu/?p=details&eventCode=15585 

Vincent Van Gogh – A new Way of Seeing – In Cinemas from 14th AprilWheat Field with Cypresses_1889_Van Gogh

694px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Self-Portrait_-_Google_Art_Project_(719161)Made in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, this film is a major re-showing of the gallery’s collection and a celebration of the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death. Seeing Van Gogh’s masterpieces on the big screen, in high definition is a revelation. Renowned curators and art historians, offer their interpretations and explanations of his work. With exclusive new research revealing recent discoveries and insights. Check out http://www.exhibitiononscreen.com/vincent-van-gogh-a-new-way-of-seeing for participating cinemas in your area.


100 buildings in 72 hours.

Open House, October 2013.

Alzheimers Respite Centre, Blackrock

The Orchard Day & Respite Care Centre, Blackrock – Niall McLaughlin Architects

By way of contrast the recent Open House weekend of architectural events purports to embrace a basic theme each year. For 2013 this was to be ‘100 Great Buildings – from the obvious to the overlooked’ with the promise ‘to surprise and delight the public’. Indeed it would be some achievement to get to see anywhere near that number of buildings in the few days they are accessible. With such a variety of building types, styles and historic periods covered there will be something to engage even those visitors with just a passing curiosity in their city’s buildings and spaces. (In 2012 the theme was ‘Architecture Alive!’ whilst in 2011 the theme was ‘Architecture of Change’)

The fact that the list of buildings on offer mutates each year means there is always something new to explore or make a trek for. There is that sense of a sneak preview, of being allowed behind the scenes in places where the public are not normally welcome. This is perhaps most evident in large security conscious institutes such as the Central Bank of Ireland on Dame Street in Dublin, the Commissioners of Irish Lights offices in Dun Laoghaire or the Google Docks building in Dublin’s Grand Canal Basin.

But the range is substantial. Many of the buildings are recently completed and deflate the notion that all construction during the property boom was overpriced, insubstantial in nature and speculative profit-driven leading to unwanted ghost estates and mediocre architecture. Educational projects such as Scoill Mhuire Ógh in Crumlin or Ballyroan Library in Rathfarnham demonstrate that great architecture is still being created in spite of the dire state we find ourselves in. In addition the on-site engagement in the case of such contemporary buildings with the actual architects and engineers who designed and built them affords a unique opportunity for a clearer understanding of the buildings requirements and achievements.

Those private houses, which are open to viewing, whether they are one-off individual projects or social housing schemes, give a real ‘through the keyhole’, experience without the excess of a Keith Lemon or Loyd Grossman. Many are only accessible to the public for that one particular day through the generosity of private owners, management companies and institutes.

Oratory of the Sacred Heart

But it is often the less obvious that elicits the most rewarding experiences for the visitor – the somewhat unknown, the quirky or the forgotten that we ignore on a daily basis. Examples would include the wonderful Victorian terracotta tile work at the bustling Fruit and Vegetable Market in Smithfield or the extraordinary wall paintings by Sister Concepta Lynch that cover the interior at Oratory of the Sacred Heart in suburban Dun Laoghaire.

For a few days of the year it is worth pausing to admire with fresh eyes the multiple facets that add to our lives by way of the surrounding built environment. A new insight and perspective can be achieved. In a small way it helps build that visual language that we are often accused of lacking in this country. We are in many ways inured to our surrounding built environment and yet it impacts on us daily. We don’t have the surrounding rich fabric of cities such as Paris, New York or Barcelona. But anything that encourages us to open our eyes to what we do still posses has to be a good thing.

Open House Dublin http://openhousedublin.com/index.php

Heritage Ireland http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/

The RIAI http://www.riai.ie/

Irish Architectural Archive http://www.iarc.ie/

DocoMomo Ireland http://docomomo.ie/

Parsons Building TCD

Parsons Building, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Trinity College Dublin – Grafton Architects

A Night at the Museum – Culture Night, September 2013.

All art institutes and cultural bodies need a combination of factors to survive and thrive. They need of course a source of creative talent and material to promote and promulgate. Then there are the passionate individuals who maintain, foster and administer the particular body. But they also need that latent reservoir of visitors, punters, consumers of culture, call them what you will – recipients of their disseminations. This will be their sustainable revenue stream in the parlance of contemporary business-led culture. But what if you build said institute and no one comes? We have seen that with the proliferation of local art establishments created in our booming economy in recent years. Many did not have a sustainable pool of public from which to draw revenue. The Visual Centre in Carlow is perhaps unfairly presented as a prime example of the lack of a sustainable indigenous catchment cultural populace to allow an institute thrive and survive.

So all cultural bodies in the new leaner competitive period we live in have to get out there and get people moving through those imaginary turnstiles. Leverage all potential revenue streams. Work all the available channels.

So it is with the recently held annual Culture Night. Ostensibly it is means for people who wouldn’t normally do so to ‘Explore, Experience and Enjoy’ their city in a new invigorating way or to simply re-engage and see things in the new light of an evening encounter. The concept proved a success elsewhere and over its eight years in Dublin it has grown into a veritable smörgåsbord of culture. There is always too much to see and do. Cultural fatigue sets in endeavouring to tick off venues on a cultural menu like some obsessive cultural twitcher.

At the core though should be the quest to encounter something new or overlooked or unforeseen. All experienced in night-light starkness. To feel that exquisite frisson that adheres to uniqueness and authenticity. I’ve experienced this most years at Culture Night. Travelling with fellow stumbled-upon punters these happenstances usually emanate from the random and wonderful encounters with experts, amateurs, enthusiasts and passionate devotees. This is what is captivating about any city. Over the course of several Culture Nights I have been enthused by many intriguing and wonderful buildings and situations. I have made it a self-mission to make sure I include something that one would not encounter on a regular stampede through the cultural undergrowth. Seeing small children transfixed and hyper in equal measures in a spookily lit Natural History Museum is a joy. Getting to eat poshed-up versions of nineteenth century gruel in the Mendicity Institute (http://www.mendicity.org/about.htm), discovering quixotic books tucked away on the library shelves in the Masonic Hall on Molesworth Street or sitting in the original benches from Grattan’s House of Parliament in the Royal Irish Academy to trying out my graffiti creds at demonstrations in Francis Street have all been fun experiences.

Culture Night has grown over the years and thankfully become embedded in the cultural calendar.

But why just one night a year? I have been to many art institutes in other countries after dark, all legitimately I hasten to add, but with the promise of something specific to that night and not to be seen on an average Sunday afternoon cruise for a culture fix.

I have always felt a desire to see something completely unique to Culture Night – a bespoke and one-off event or performance primed for that night only. I long for the uniqueness of say Manchester’s International Festival (http://www.mif.co.uk/). A simple diktat – that everything staged, must be original and new. Such a concept is of course not possible or indeed necessarily appropriate to Culture Night in Dublin, Cork or Limerick. There is always the requisite musical and dance performances at many venues and locations for Culture Night and indeed site specific art installations too. But I do long for that something special. The idea that I have ventured out of my comfort zone as a cultural consumer and that I am being challenged in some way with a creative event that is for one night and one night only. Something that is specifically designed for Culture Night and that you will not experience on any regular visit.

I crave a Culture Night where I am amazed and dumbfounded – something a little more audacious. I seek the Shock of the New.

St.Pauls Church, Arran Quay

St.Pauls Church, Arran Quay

Royal Irish Academy reading room

Royal Irish Academy reading room

Peppercannister church

Peppercannister church

culture night 2012

installation Culture Night 2012