IT'S Good Relations Week. At one time that meant money, now it means that some events and opportunities to increase our understanding of each other are all on one website. If the thought or effort to attend something is too much, sometimes knowing that some of these events are happening is an opportunity for hope.
WHEN most people think of the Cultúrlann they recognise it as the leading Irish language cultural centre in Belfast. But what many don’t realise is that the Cultúrlann is home to a number of galleries and is currently exhibiting two shows by inspiring female artists. A Thinking Forest by Petra Dominová and 4D Mound Network by Jennifer Mehigan are open to the public until Thursday. I caught up with both artists to talk about their work. Born in the Czech Republic, Petra Dominová has lived half her life in Belfast and studied at the Art College in the city. “The exhibition is called A Thinking Forest and the title explores the idea of seeing nature as sentient, as an eco-system that is alive and it comes from my own experiences in nature which I feel connected to and it is inspired by Irish landscape but much more in an intuitive, surreal and mystical way,” she says. “The exhibition is really inspired by nature but also mysticism and symbolism. In the exhibition there are quite a few paintings, there are some photographs, video and a sound piece, but mostly it is paintings which are quite surreal. I paint using acrylic paints on paper and they are all on a black background and they are very symbolic I would say.
IN this week’s edition of Northern Winds, we look at plenty of the album announcements coming out of our creative community this week, and the ensuring live news that comes with them. But before that, we have further updates from the showcase festival, Ireland Music Week.
THE power of arts to offer a traumatised society a couple of hours to ponder on a perspective of the conflict that they might not have had the head space to consider before has once again played out on the stage of the Lyric. Beano Niblock’s The Man Who Swallowed a Dictionary – produced by Green Shoots – has brought the man to life, moustache and all. The opening night's audience was an eclectic bunch who found more humour than they expected. Ervine's early years got us up to speed via his origins in East Belfast and his journey into the UVF and prison. Actor Paul Garrett expertly plays all characters, from Gusty Spence to Tony Blair to Billy Hutchinson, and even Ervine's wife Jeanette. There were some early difficulties with lines and lighting, but I'm sure these have been ironed out by now. All perspectives in the conflict being given the theatre treatment can help us all come to terms with our past and help change attitudes. The difficulty is in getting support to do so. Green Shoots taking up the play to get it into production was the missing link to when Beano tried it on his own.
IN this week's column, we get some long-awaited answers from the Translink Summer Sessions, we look at the news developing around Dublin’s creative spaces and we shine a light on some of the best music released his week by our independent artists. Frequent readers will remember the team-up between Translink and the Oh Yeah Music Centre announced earlier this year. A callout was made for young local talent in a search for brilliant new music. Each applicant was required to submit an original track based on the theme of ‘connections’, and then six finalists were then chosen who went on to take the stage at Belfast music hub, the Oh Yeah Music Centre, to perform to a crowd of fans and panel of judges. Competition was fierce but ultimately it was Newry-born singer-songwriter Jack Devlin who emerged victorious and was named the Translink Sound Of The Summer act. With a prize package of £1,000, airtime on Q Radio, and industry mentoring and recording studio time at Oh Yeah Music Centre, it's a great kickstart to his next campaign as Devlin looks to make a splash in 2024. Speaking on his win, Devlin stated: "I am absolutely delighted to have won the Translink Sessions competition! I have really enjoyed the whole process and meeting so many fantastic local artists along the way. Thank you to Translink and Oh Yeah Music Centre.
LAST Friday I was walking up University Road with the poet Miriam Gamble on the way to a book launch in the Great Hall at Queen’s. She’s been living in Edinburgh for the last decade and a half, give or take a year or two, and even though I see her quite often in Belfast we couldn’t help but point out the places that have changed in recent years.
AUGUST has rolled seamlessly into September. Beyond 2023’s midpoint now, our summer months, such as they were, supplied ample conditions for cultivating eventual autumnal introspection. Where are we in relation to our hopes and goals? Which actions have brought us to this very moment in time? With bated breath, inevitably to be condensed in fall’s air, we await evidence of progress, both personal and societal.
STEPHEN Connolly's piece for us on his experiences at Listowel Writers' Week has exploded across the Irish media. Stephen was on holiday when the storm broke and today he writes of how he processed the controversy to the sound of cowbells on an Swiss mountain.