Belfast Telegraph

Rarely-seen writings by John Hewitt on show for Culture Night

Little-known writings by the Ulster poet and thinker John Hewitt will be on display at the Belfast Telegraph for the first time tomorrow night.

The articles — penned by Hewitt in the 1950s — will be on display as part of the paper’s contribution to Culture Night Belfast.

Around 15,000 people are expected to descend on the city’s Cathedral Quarter for the annual event, now in its third year.

There are more than 170 events in 100 venues around the city centre. Culture Night is being held in other towns and cities in Ireland, and internationally as well.

The Belfast Telegraph’s popular Tour of the Press returns, and we’ll be opening our books of historical archives and displaying old artifacts, too. Few now remember that Hewitt was the Telegraph’s art critic for three years, writing under the name of ‘MacArt’ (son of Art).

For this year’s Culture Night, Telegraph librarian Paul Carson spent hours delving into our archives and locating all the Hewitt/MacArt columns.

It is believed this is the first time the public will be able to read Hewitt’s newspaper writing since they were originally published around 55 years ago.

Written in the sparse style typical of newspapers, he gives his opinions on the Belfast art scene of the time and visiting exhibitions of famous European painters.

Hewitt stopped writing for the Telegraph in 1957, taking a job as art director at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry.

Serving and retired Telegraph staff, including former editors and executives, will be on hand tomorrow night to chat about the paper’s history.

Last year’s popular press hall tours will again be repeated, with staff advising on the installation and management of the presses from 1985 onwards.

The Belfast Telegraph is one of the few modern newspapers to be printed on its city centre site.

Belfast Telegraph managing editor Paul Connolly said: “As one of the few newspapers still printed on site, this is a historic opportunity to see newspaper presses close-up. Together with the wealth of historical material available, we believe the ‘Tele Tours’ is a unique proposition anywhere in these islands.

“The John Hewitt material will be fascinating reading for both scholars of his writing and students of social history generally.”

The Belfast Telegraph event runs from 6.30-8.30pm. Enter via the side door on Library Street.

Hewitt’s sharp words

On a visiting sculpture exhibition, including works from Rodin and Henry Moore:

“What are we to make of Reg Butler’s Crouching Woman... One, if wise, usually hesitates to denounce extreme examples of modern art ... Nevertheless, in all honesty, when faced by the umbrella-ribs and rusty nails of the contemporary mode, I do not know what to say.”

On a Patric Stevenson exhibition:

“One of the pictures in which the handling rather obtrudes is Waterfall, Donnemark, Bantry, where the cascade somehow appears more solid than the rocks over which it tumbles.”

Cry from the heart after an exhibition of the French artist Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac:

“We are grateful to the French Consul and to C.E.M.A. for making it possible for us to see this pleasing show, but would beg also for more substantial fare, more fully representative of Modern Art in France during the present century.”

On a James McGarvey exhibition:

“Sometimes in trying to express his ideas in pen-line and brushwash, he seems a little confused now and then the wash becomes rather meaningless and obscures the intention of the line, as in Kelp Gatherers, where the cloud shapes fail utterly.”

On identity:

"I’m an Ulsterman, of planter stock. I was born on the island of Ireland, so secondarily I’m an Irishman. I was born in the British archipelago and English is my native tongue, so I am British. The British archipelago are offshore to the continent of Europe, so I’m European. This is my hierarchy of values and as far as I’m concerned anyone who omits one step in that sequence of value is falsifying the situation."

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