Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Man about town

Not a ripple from dead rabbit

YOU all know how they won the Turner modern art prize. Damien Hirst pickled a shark. Chris Ofili painted with elephant dung.

YOU all know how they won the Turner modern art prize. Damien Hirst pickled a shark. Chris Ofili painted with elephant dung.

So Ballygally sculptor Graham Gingles was amongst those ironically amused when the dead rabbit didn't win the Perspective Prize at the Ormeau Baths Gallery. Martin O'Leary's video has a flopsy bunny, lifeless, dancing like a puppet on a string.

Alastair McLennan, who's represented Ireland at many arts Olympics, said he was off next to show in Chile. Richard West, of local art magazine Source, is looking too to wider horizons, expanding sales into GB. Photographer Mary McIntyre, wife to OBG curator Hugh Mulholland, shows her work next in Pittsburgh. In from Wales, painter Jack Crabtree will exhibit in the Fenderesky at the Queen's Festival.

So its all go in the visual arts world. Dr Liam Kelly, late of the Orchard Gallery, is to lecture in Hong Kong. Previous Perspective winner Dan Shipsides had been there buying bamboo to wrap up a Dublin cinema for the Nissan art prize. Video star Susan McWilliam is back from a New York residency. It's sponsored by the Arts Council, represented on the night by Judith Jordan, there with Wheelworks' Lizzie Devlin. Luckily Bezançon-born performance artist Fabienne Audéoud had flown in for the night. Otherwise, said one of the judges Annie Fletcher, her live show could hardly have picked up the £6,000 award. Man About Town thought her arrival poached the honours from Lincolnshire painter Peter Liversidge's wittier entries. Joint official judge, artist David Wilkinson, will now share gallery limelight with Fabienne again. Both will show soon in Dublin at Grant Watson's Project.

Theatrical odyssey links Belfast and Derry THERE can have been few more exclusive places to be than Michael Sugden's crab, crayfish and champagne lunch for twelve of us. It took place past the coal-yards at Belfast's Pollock dock, on board the good ship Silver Whisper.

Its Grand Cabins, in the prow, cost £2,800 per couple per night.

Yet drama buffs were just as happy with two entirely differing attractions.

Music theatre fans packed Peter Corry's Les Miserables at the Odyssey.

Theatregoers filled The Millennium Forum, Ireland's largest theatre, for its launch within Derry's City Walls.

For Councillor Annie Courtney, Chair of the Theatre's Trust, it was the joyous culmination of a 30 year campaign. For Roger Donnelly, of the Maiden City's Radio Q102, and Radio Ulster's John Toal, it was lead story. For Eithne McCloskey, doyenne of Derry's drama activists - there with her friend Gabrielle O'Conaghan - it was the climax of almost six decades of aspiration.

Actors Sean Caffrey and Niall Cusack, plus director Colin Carnegie, up from Belfast, welcome every new theatre, as does Derry author/director Dave Duggan.

Derek Nicholl, of Belfast's Grand Opera House, envied the marbled public areas and spacious bars. Actor Gordon Fulton and one-time Riverside Theatre Director Jeremy Lewis had a quibble, though. They had to stand outside in the rain to snatch a smoke. Doug Wilson of chief funders, the Millennium Commission, likened it to London's Tate Modern and Salford's Lowry Centre. Arts Council Chair Prof Brian Walker added it to the city's F E McWilliam sculpture as a major artistic attraction. Top civil servant John Hunter cited the city's theatrical history, back to local playwright George Farquhar, toast of 17th-century Drury Lane.

Sax player extraordinaire Gay McIntyre led the stylish music. Phil Coulter had slipped off south to join Billy Connolly at the Waterfront. But it wouldn't have been at the pace ex-rally driver Cathal Curley said he'd driven Bishop Edward Daly to Dublin for Gay Byrne's Late Show. 'An hour fifty', whispered the episcopal author to Pat and John Hume, who is proud of his memoirs' sales of 50,000.

Education Minister Martin McGuinness was back from a good summer's seatrout fishing in Donegal. But two others in the company had come a little further than Finntown. Van McLeod, a Portora schoolboy when his father was US Ambassador in Dublin, had flown in from New Hampshire.

But the man whose journey here really has been an odyssey is the theatre's Chief Executive Michael Poynor, for he was born on the Falkland Islands.

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