08/06/2012 Showcasing Irish Arts at the London Cultural Olympiad
Jimmy Deenihan TD Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will today (Friday 8th June, 2012) launch Irish Writers Month in London. Irish Writers Month is a key annual event which takes place at the Irish Culture Centre in Hammersmith. It is through our writers – from Shaw, Joyce, Yeats through to our contemporary writers – Banville, McCann, Enright and Toibin – that Ireland has gained such a high profile, global cultural reputation.
Speaking at the Irish Culture Centre Minister Deenihan said “During Irish Writers’ Month audiences will be treated to a delight of some of Ireland’s top artists. These include Joseph O’Connor, possibly best known for his story of Irish emigration ‘Star of the Sea’ which sold over one million copies and was published in 38 languages who will be in conversation with Philip King. Colm Toibin, will present in a double bill with Kevin Barry. There are unmissable evenings planned with Claire Keegan, one of Ireland’s finest short story writers, poet Nuala Ni Chonchuir and Mary Kenny who will treat audiences to memoirs of Dublin”
Minister Deenihan also noted the London Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad have inspired a fresh look at the close cultural ties between Ireland and Britain. Ireland is set to take advantage of the international media spotlight on the London Olympics to promote Irish art and culture. An initiative, Next Door Neighbours, supported by the Arts Council and The British Council, with support from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland as well as a programme of events curated by Culture Ireland will serve to consolidate and animate the unique and evolving relationship between the two countries.
“With the eyes of the world on London in the lead-up to and during the Olympics we have a unique and valuable opportunity to highlight Ireland’s creativity on a world stage”, said Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Culture Ireland is supporting a programme of events that will feature the best of Irish theatre, music, poetry and visual art as part of the London 2012 Festival which will run from 21 June to 9 September and will comprise over 1,000 events across the UK.
One of these flagship Irish projects in the London 2012 Festival will be the Druid Murphy, an epic cycle of three plays by Tom Murphy: Famine, A Whistle in the Dark and Conversations on a Homecoming, directed by Garry Hynes, “Tom Murphy is one of the world’s finest living playwrights” said Minister Deenihan. “His three plays, which will be premiered at Hampstead Theatre trace the national narrative of emigration, exile and return over 150 years”.
Our Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, whose books already make up two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the UK, will perform at the Southbank Centre in London. As part of the Festival of the World, a series of cultural events, Poetry Parnassus will feature one poet from each of the 204 nations competing in the Olympics. This is the world’s largest ever gathering of poets – inspired by the ancient Greek practice of odes written in honour of winning athletes at the Olympics. The work of visual artist, Dorothy Cross will also feature at the Southbank Centre.
Irish music will also feature on the world stage with Irish sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionaird performing along with other leading Irish traditional musicians, including Steve Cooney and Nollaig Casey in the BT River of Music – one of the flagship events in London 2012 – staged along the banks of the Thames and hosting thousands of performers from the 204 participating countries.
In an unusual direct link between art and sport, the Irish visual artist, John Gerrard was commissioned by Oxford University to work with the Olympic athletes in training and capture their movements to realise a virtual artwork. Using digital gaming technologies, which tracks human figures in a 360-degree view of a landscape unfolding in real time, Gerrard will create a work in his specialist form to be unveiled in Oxford in July.
Events supported by Culture Ireland as part of the festival outside London focus mainly on the internationally renowned Edinburgh International Festival. Camille O’Sullivan has received a highly prestigious commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company to compose a new version of Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece and Shaun Davey, one of Ireland’s great composers, has created an original score for the Radu Stanca National Theatre’s production of “Gulliver’s Travels”. Both events form a key part of the Edinburgh Festival programme.
In tandem with the Cultural Olympiad in London- Next Door Neighbours features a series of events taking place at seven arts festivals across Ireland from June to October 2012 to provide enjoyment and illumination through the arts.
Highlights will include Shakespeare’s Globe company performing As You Like It; a film and live music performance, The Sinking of the Titanic, inspired by reports that the ship’s string ensemble continued to play the hymn tune Autumn even as she sank; and the magical Amococo luminarium, a monumental inflatable structure designed to create a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and colour.
The seven participating festivals are: Cork Midsummer Festival; Clonmel Junction Festival; Kilkenny Arts Festival; Galway Arts Festival; Earagail Arts Festival; Absolut Fringe; and the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Minister Deenihan said “the London 2012 Olympics provide a unique opportunity for Ireland to showcase our creativity at home and abroad. It is an ideal time to celebrate and share with the world the evolving imagination, intelligence and innovation of Irish creative talent. With a global focus on London this partnership between, The Arts Council and The British Council, supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht through Culture Ireland and Fáilte Ireland offers a real opportunity to highlight our creative talent and our artistic reputation on the world stage”