Minister Humphreys announces Arts Council’s ambitious commissions ‘to inspire the nation’ as part of Ireland 2016

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, T.D., joined the Chair of the Arts Council Sheila Pratschke and Director Orlaith McBride today to announce nine major arts projects to commemorate 1916. The commissions, which range across traditional music, poetry, dance and visual arts, form a key part of the Government’s Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme and will be presented to the public next year.

The projects were selected by an international jury after the Arts Council issued an ‘open call’ to the Irish imagination, and promised to invest a total of €1 million in ambitious ideas by artists across the country.

Announcing the successful projects today, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys said: “The arts and culture were an essential element of the movement that led to the events of the 1916 Rising, with the Gaelic and Literary revivals helping to inspire a new generation. It is vital, therefore, that the arts are central to the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. These commissions will help us to not only reflect on the events of a century ago, but also to look forward to the next 100 years.

Arts Council Chair Sheila Pratschke said: “Almost one hundred years on, these proposals represent a key response to 1916. It will be very exciting to watch over the months ahead as they are transformed from idea to reality. I am already confident that these artists, with such vision and ambition, will inspire the nation.”

Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride said: “We in the Arts Council were overwhelmed – and delighted – by the response to our ‘open call’, even if it made the international jury’s task of choosing just nine applications from 258 all the more challenging. The successful projects will be at the heart of the commemoration programme, and we want as many people as possible to experience the work when it is presented next year.”

Also as part of the Government’s Ireland 2016 centenary programme, the Arts Council will offer 16 special bursaries for a new generation of emerging artists; additional touring support to bring arts events to communities across Ireland; and will gather dozens of the country’s best choirs for a free, televised concert featuring a specially-commissioned piece by Shaun Davey and Paul Muldoon.


Notes to the editor:

In the Shadow of the State

In the Shadow of the State is a collaboration between visual artists Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones, exploring statehood from the perspective of the female body. In the context of the centenary, the project investigates the resonances of the birth of the state, and what it means for women today. Through a series of participatory live events in historically resonant spaces in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain, the project includes collaborating experts from medicine, law, material culture and music. The 1916 Rising – originally a socialist and feminist movement as well as a nationalist project – remains unfinished for women in Ireland. In the Shadow of the State is co-commissioned by Create (Ireland) and Artangel (UK), with additional production support from Heart of Glass (UK).


Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones

Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones are both based in Dublin and studied at the National College of Art and Design. Their collaboration, as a feminist practice, brings together mutual concerns. They have each made numerous works within and outside gallery spaces, and have extensive experience working in collaborative contexts and through public art commissions. Their exhibitions, films and public projects have been produced on a national and an international level, for institutions such as Project Arts Centre, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Istanbul Biennale, Artsonje Seoul, the Daimler Art Collection and the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

A Poet’s Rising

The Irish Writers Centre has commissioned six poems, one for each day of the Rising. These poems will be written and performed by our most influential contemporary poets who will reflect on a significant figure, location or event around the Rising. The poems will be filmed and released during the week of the anniversary. The poets include Jessica Traynor, Thomas McCarthy, Paul Muldoon, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Theo Dorgan. An original score will be composed by Colm Mac Con Iomaire. The films will be made available as an app for download which will take the user to each location where they can watch the video of the poem performed by the poet. It is confirmed that the poems will also be broadcast on terrestrial TV.


Irish Writers Centre

The Irish Writers Centre is a flagship resource organisation for writers.  It offers professional supports to meet the needs of writers at all stages of their development through training, information, networking opportunities and programmed events. A key part of their role is to offer a comprehensive and innovative toolkit/service to support the professional development of writers. The centre is also committed to fostering connections between writers across Ireland as well as celebrating their writing by creating audiences for their work at home and abroad. These goals are achieved through their physical hub in Parnell Square, their national and international outreach programmes and specialised online presence.

Future Histories

Niamh Murphy and Áine Phillips will curate a dawn-to-dusk live art and video event with 16 acclaimed Irish artists at Kilmainham Gaol to respond to its iconic historical associations with the 1916 Rising. The invited artists, from north and south of the border, who work in performance, live art and video will respond to the 1916 centenary, creating contemporary perspectives on our shared past, conflicts, crises and passions in relation to the Rising and its greatest monument, Kilmainham Gaol.


The artists are Amanda Coogan, Danny McCarthy, Brian Connolly, Debbie Guinnane, Helena Walsh, Sandra Johnson, Fergus Byrne, Francis Fay, Katherine Nolan, Pauline Cummins, Ciara McKeon, Dominic Thorpe, Maeve Redmond, Dr. Laura McAtackney, Michelle Browne, Alastair McLennan and Sinéad O’Donnell.


Performance Art Live Foundation

Performance Art Live Foundation (P. A. Live) is an artist-led initiative in Ireland, dedicated to and invested in live, durational performance and live art made by artist-performers. Supporting Irish artists in developing and presenting live performance in collaborative ways, P.A. Live promotes Irish performance as a strong and vibrant practice with important historical lineage.


Áine Phillips and Niamh Murphy

The curators of Future Histories are Áine Phillips and Niamh Murphy. Áine Phillips makes live performance art and video in Ireland and internationally. She is involved in artist-led projects and curates live art events in Ireland. She has just published Performance Art in Ireland: A History, the first survey of the artform on the island. Niamh Murphy is a live performance artist and curator and has been director of the Dublin Live Art Festival since 2012.


HEED is a public sound work, which will be made by artist Garrett Phelan in collaboration with groups of Dublin-based young people (aged 18 to 25) and with the support of social services providers. HEED will focus on, and give voice to, the disaffected and increasingly disenfranchised. It aims to highlight the concerns and issues facing young people, in a positive and constructive manner, through the creation of a significant sound project. HEED calls ambitions of the past into the present; namely an Ireland that consistently questions the integrity of its governance, the manifestation of its cultural identity and the ministration of civic society.


Garrett Phelan

Garrett Phelan makes site-specific projects that include independent FM radio broadcasts, sculptural installations, photography, film, animation and drawing. He has exhibited widely in Ireland and internationally, with recent solo shows at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2015; IMMA, Dublin 2012; and group exhibitions at EVA International 2014; Palais des Beau-Arts de Bruxelles 2013; ICA, London 2012; 11th Lyon Biennial, 2011.

The Souvenir Shop

The Souvenir Shop will examine the shifting meanings and commoditization of gestures and symbols associated with the revolution, examining how the images, objects and themes of the 1916 Easter Rising and conflict more generally become ‘souvenirs’. The work also explores how ordinary people and everyday heroes cope with conflict and resolution. Referencing the city centre shops once owned by Proclamation signatory Tom Clarke, Duffy will create a shop in Dublin city centre filled with foodstuffs, goods, medicines, with images of the rising and its heroes, woven into everyday things. The artist will transform the historical and everyday into the magical, and will fundamentally question public attitudes towards violence, commemoration and national identity.


Rita Duffy

Rita Duffy was born and grew up in Belfast. Duffy works in the figurative/narrative tradition, and her enquiries into questions of Irish identity, history and politics often stem from autobiographical experience. Her work involves an exquisite crafting of materials and generally takes the form of painting, drawing and mixed media installation. Duffy’s work is often humorous, drawing on absurdist traditions in art, and referencing Surrealism and Magic Realism. Her work is held in national and international collections, and Duffy exhibits widely. She has undertaken many public commissions and has worked with local and community groups in her projects.


Helen Carey

Helen Carey is a Dublin-based independent curator, whose practice is focused on memory, history and cultural identity. Carey curated a series of exhibitions for the Lockout 1913/2013 centenary and has worked most recently with Ewa Partum, Michael Warren, and Mark Curran on the ongoing project THE MARKET. She is currently Director of Fire Station Artists’ Studios, and was previously Director/Curator, Limerick City Gallery of Art and inaugural Director, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.



The Casement Project

The Casement Project is a choreography of bodies and ideas that takes place across multiple platforms and national borders. It dances with the queer body of British peer, Irish rebel and international humanitarian, Roger Casement. It asks: Who gets to be in the national body? How could the national body move? An award-winning creative team, a cast of internationally-acclaimed performers and contributors from beyond the arts, join choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir to create five interconnected ways for people to be involved in the project: a stage performance, a celebratory festival of dance, a dance-film, an academic symposium and a series of engagement opportunities that welcome participation by a diversity of people.

Fearghus Ó Conchúir

Brought up in the Ring Gaeltacht, Fearghus completed degrees in English and European Literature at Magdalen College Oxford, before beginning a career as a choreographer. Frequently collaborating with artists and experts from other disciplines, he is a champion for what dance can help us understand about how we live in the world. His film and live performances, presented around the world, create frameworks for audiences and artists to build communities together. In the past year, he toured his dance work Cure, most recently to Hong Kong; he collaborated with visual artist, Sarah Browne and he created The Rhythm of Fierce for Croí Glan Integrated Dance, as well as beginning research on The Casement Project.


A creative collaboration between ANU and CoisCéim Dance Theatre, THESE ROOMS is an immersive, live performance and film installation that cross pollinates contemporary dance, theatre and visual art. The work is based on a historical incident, which took place on North King Street, Dublin in April 1916 and involved the killing of fifteen civilian men. With reference to eyewitness accounts, THESE ROOMS will take the form of an embodied, physical testimony drawing attention to the effects of conflict on ordinary people’s lives and reaffirming the role of art in negotiating history.


ANU is devoted to an interdisciplinary approach to live performance that cross-pollinates visual art, dance and theatre in an intensely collaborative way while placing audiences central to their work. ANU is comprised of artistic directors Louise Lowe and Owen Boss, and is produced by Lynnette Moran and Matt Smyth. Works include: Pals,The Irish at Gallipoli (Collins Barracks); Glorious Madness (Failte Ireland and DCC); Beautiful Dreamers (Limerick City of Culture), Vardo (DTF2014), Angel Meadow (HOME Manchester), Thirteen (DFF), Dublin Tenement Experience; The Boys of Foley Street (DTF2012); Laundry (DTF2011), World’s End Lane (DTF2010), Memory Deleted and Basin (DFF).

CoisCéim Dance Theatre

Founded in 1995, CoisCéim’s style of performance is contemporary and vibrant, with a knowing regard for the everyday. Artistic Director, David Bolger embraces a selection of dance styles to articulate stories and emotions that are relevant to the landscapes in which we live.  The company has presented work to audiences large and small, onstage and on film throughout Ireland and overseas. International highlights include Ballads (Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, USA & Ten Days on the Island Festival, Australia); Knots and Swimming with my Mother (Peak Performances, USA); Knots (Venice Biennale) and most recently in 2014, Missing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

1916 – Visionaries and their Words

100 years on from a revolution, 1916 – Visionaries and their Words will explore the writings and ideals of the Easter Rising’s leaders in a concert programme inspired by their work to take place at the 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and Temple Bar Trad Fest. Drawing from their writings, Lorcán Mac Mathúna will attempt to interpret the vision of the revolutionaries and to explore their legacy and contemporary resonance. The concert will present male, female, and children’s voices, and a narrator who will read from source writings, alongside images and footage, both modern and archival.

Lorcán Mac Mathúna

Lorcán Mac Mathúna is a singer, writer, and arranger whose work defies categorisation. Working extensively in the realm of improvised music, stylistically informed by sean-nós vocal techniques and philosophy, his music is tonally rich, nuanced, and dynamic. He is an innovator in the presentation of traditional song and historical texts. To date his work has included four commissioned song cycles, the ground-breaking exploration of medieval Gaelic meters Preab Meadar, collaborations connecting Norse and Irish music, improvisational and electronic music, and compositional theory development.

New commission by Willie Doherty

Irish artist, Willie Doherty proposes to make a new video work which examines the legacy of the 1916 Easter Rising. The work will build on Doherty’s interest in the relationship between landscape and memory, and will be shot in sites of contested history in Donegal and Dublin. The video will premiere in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny in July 2016 as part of the Earagail Arts Festival, and will be exhibited in Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Matt’s Gallery, London in late 2016, early 2017.

Willie Doherty

Willie Doherty has exhibited in many of the world’s leading museums including SMK Statens Museum for Kunst; Copenhagen, Dallas Museum of Art; Kunstverin in Hamburg; Salzburger Kunstverin;  Salzburg, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; De Appel, Amsterdam; IMMA, Dublin; amongst others, and has work in many public collections. He has been twice nominated for the Turner Prize and participated in major international exhibitions including Documenta, Manifesta and the Venice, São Paulo and Istanbul biennales.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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