Well, I never did get to do my daily blog through the Trash Culture Revue (I got as far as Friday). It was all too much to expect of myself; too much partying, long nights, no sleep and work to be done every day. I had a blast and I hope all of those who got to one of the twenty trash culture events did too. Most of all I hope the performers enjoyed themselves. It’s such an important part of any event that the performers, who give so much of themselves, enjoy themselves, get a chance to breathe.
It’s now Wednesday but I’m still shattered. Seems like weeks ago that we started when in fact it was only this time last week that we held our first event, Bloomspace. I’m still spaced and out of whack.
I’m picking up the photos of the entire event tomorrow and for that I have Carolyn Collier and Isabella to especially thank. The sheer amount of work they had to put in, for nothing, to capture all the events, taking photos, uploading them, editing them and so on will give us a lasting record of the first Trash Culture Revue. Thank you both so much and I hope someday I can repay you for the work you did.
Another night of culture trashing. In the humidity of a Cork summer we had a ball. The Mutant Shorts competition surpassed itself. This was our third mutant shorts night and last night was the best yet. We had 11 films entries – all based around a sitting room – and all were very different. Max Le Cain from the Cork Film Centre and Dan O’Connell from egomotion.net were our distinguished judges and, after much deliberation, decided on Fiona O’Riordans film, ‘Flipping Channels’, as the outright winner. The runner up was, ‘Phone Booth’, and a special award went to Hilary Williams for ‘3 Live, Living Rooms’. We will, in time, be uploading all the films into our mutant space vimeo channel. We had over 100 enthusiastic people at the event which gave the night a great buzz, another good trash culture vibe to the proceedings.
Last nights first Trash Culture Revue event, Bloomspace, was a wonderful event. The weather was warm, a gentle breeze and a beautiful little venue on the quays in Cork City. Everybody was in good form, relaxed, easy there was a real sense of summer. Ken Cotter looked after hosting the gig and did a fantastic job. Between his own music he introduced the wonderful Eden Singers who sang songs from Ulysses and readers who read their favourite passages from the book. There was plenty of wine – all of it drunk – kidneys and gorgonzola sandwiches, kindly bought, prepared and served by the staff of The Sextant Bar. So a big thanks to everyone there especially Johnny and Drogus. The evening wound up with Molly Blooms soliloquy and an old song from Ken last album. You can’t make a vibe, an atmosphere, a sense of wellbeing you can only create the circumstances in which it may happen. Last night we did both. This was our 2nd Bloomsday celebration. It was the litmus test and we exceeded our expectations. Long may it continue.
Finally the day has arrived. Trash Culture is on. The weather is beautiful in Cork and this evening we’ll be opening our Revue with a mutantspace party to celebrate Bloomsday which is held every year on June 16th – a day immortalised by James Joyce in his masterpiece, Ulysses. Naturally we’ll be giving out free gorgonzola sandwiches, kidneys and wine and have a great line up of readings and music; original songs based on the book and actual songs from the book. So if you are around please come down, we’ll be kicking off around 6pm and ending whenever people feel like it. At 6pm upstairs in the Roundy bar we’ll be screening two short films; ‘Policed: Subject A’ and ‘Policed: Subject 1’. These two films will be screened every day until Sunday, 20th.
Our Friday one hour special on RTE Radio One was alot of fun. It was the first time I met many of the performers. The first time I had heard some of them too. Working through an online arts resource and generally talking to people through the internet means that flesh and blood rarely comes into the equation but that’s what these events, these get togethers are all about. From its very inception mutantspace.com had to prove itself in the real world, had to prove that an online community of people could get together, under one flag, and make it work. And it has, does and will continue to so.
So to the business end of the year for mutantspace.com. Six days until we kick off The Trash Culture Revue and I feel totally unprepared for it. A natural state of affairs for me – I always feel like I’m skating on ice no matter how much I go over every aspect of an event I’m involved in, from programme to production to marketing and PR. However, this time round it’s serious. I have 2 hour trash culture radio specials coming up in the next few days; the first on National radio – The Arena Arts Show on RTE Radio One, Friday 7.30pm – 8.30pm – the other one on local radio – The Green Room Sessions on 96fm, Saturday 6.30pm – 7.30pm –and I am not ready. I always feel you need to be in the right state of mind for radio; calm, prepared, open, quick. Me, at the moment? Tired, sore, clouded, heavy like a fog, there is an air of humidity around me. Mostly because I’m still getting over the weekend just gone by, a long weekend of working 3 events with early starts and late finishes. They all went well but they do take their toll. But this time of year is always the same, making hay while the sun shines. No complaints.
I often muse over the changes in Irish eating habits in recent times. I don’t have the statistics to hand, but I assume, for example, that the consumption of potatoes has fallen dramatically. Certainly, no meal of my youth was complete without potatoes, while nowadays they so often appear on menus as an optional extra. In Ireland of fifty years ago, piazza and pasta were also unheard of and Chinese and Indian cuisine smacked of the exotic. Today, together with many other foreign inputs, they form part of our regular food intake and we should rejoice in this development. By and large, the food of the past on this island was bland to the taste, lacked variety and was poorly cooked. Eating out was also not part of our culture. Yet in the space of one generation, all that has changed. Even in remote parts, supermarket shelves speak volumes about the huge variety to our diet and every town in the country now boasts at least one or two restaurants.
I’m crap at details. They distract me, disorientate me. Stress me out. I forget. I have a mind like a sieve, full of tiny holes, unable to retain those precious nuggets of information, those details that would make my life so much easier if I could just hold on to them. I’m blind to them. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was unaware of their importance, if I was oblivious to the damage that can be caused when you lose sight of them, let them go. Being in the business of putting on events, organising gigs, updating websites, trying to get people to attend, participate, get involved in what you do is a difficult job spec for someone who has a mental block when it comes to ‘The Details’. But I struggle on.
Take this weekend for example. We have three unrelated events on – one after the other – Saturday, Sunday and Monday. All three events involve; street traders selling food and crafts, clowns, musicians, storytellers, facepainters, electricity, insurance, toilets, barriers, security, parking, schedules, sound, engineers, electricians, equipment, marketing, pr, rubbish collection, roadblocks, stages and lost children. It’s endless. After that we’re into The Trash Culture Revue with over 30 events in 5 venues, a large market event and then a 4 day festival in Kinsale, Cork which includes an ongoing childrens school project as well as a carnival parade not to mind all that I’ve mentioned above.
Red faces, roof-top picnics, fires and sea swims. Early summer often enough seems to bring with it a spirit of decadence. Reaching beyond one’s means to celebrate and indulge, before…well, no need to look ahead when the fleeting sun shines. This will be my final early summer within the academic calendar – one that admittedly does so much to heighten the sense of release, perhaps beyond that experienced in the early summers of the muggle world of constant responsibility. Summer day-dreams having become vivid enough to burst, the damp inhibitions of school are flung off with a blind eye.
Make sure to pick your elder on a dry day and to avoid any growing on busy roadsides. For the lovely elderflower cordial, which brings with it endless possibilities: For a litre of water use 20-25 elderflower heads, a kilogram of sugar and two lemons. Give the flowers a check for any lingering insects. Heat the water and the sugar to a syrup. When at a boil pour over the elder. Add slivers of the zest of one of the lemons (if its not unwaxed give it a good wash in hot water). Leave to infuse for 24 hours, giving it the occasional stir. Then add the juice of the two lemons. Have a taste at this point, to check that it couldn’t do with more lemon juice (their acidity is irregular). Then strain and bottle.
Over twenty years have passed since the evening on the lake. In that time almost everything around the lake has changed, yet the spirit of it lives on, unchanged. Immense, looming, leisurely, romantic.
One of the local names for the West Lake in Hanoi translates as ‘Golden Buffalo Lake’. The story explains how the lake was made from the struggles of a mother buffalo after the disappearance of her calf. Today the lake is divided by the busy Than Nien road. From early in the morning the motorbikes and cars thunder up and down, weaving between the girls selling fruit and snails and the older women selling cold tea from their rattan mats. Around the lake cafes and restaurants spread down to the water’s edge. Their brightly coloured plastic chairs and tables are put out after the pavements have been swept. Four times during the day the lake side swells with customers eating noodles and clams. The evening is the busiest time. Old men in vests pick up their rods and the young men gather in groups to play and bet at checkers. After ten the furniture is taken away and the traffic subsides. The lake is left to lovers. They sit quiet and oblivious under the frangipani trees on the white stone benches. Sometimes the men lay their heads in the laps of the women. The women then pluck out any grey hairs they can find.
Pencils To make art these days means freedom to employ any pursuit as media; art can be made out of anything. My own work sometimes takes the form of meetings between people, the telling of stories, the collection of ephemera, the organization of feasting events, even the use of time to express meaning. Yet I find myself increasingly returning to the pencil. While drawing I set up boundaries and parameters to work within, formulae that I will follow obediently. Within limits I find much more interesting possibilities. The pencil itself represents constraint, an object that limits but with which you can do so much.
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger There is no such thing as a favourite book. There are too many times, too many contexts, too many good words, too many stories. But here’s one I keep coming back to, or even better nine-in-one.
Picking/Finding I love to pick things. There is a rhythm, a time and a place for everything and I have memories and associations with finding and picking things at their particular time of year, in their particular place. Mussels when the tide is out on the rocks by my house in Seapoint, mushrooms on the roadside in Wicklow to be laid out on newspaper for categorization after, plucking sorrel from a grassy cliff side in Castletownbere and separating blackberries: one for me, one for the bag from hedgerows just about anywhere they grow. I’ve observed a rhythm in the finding of things, the picking of edible treasures, whether from woods or seashores. Some time is passed idly looking with one or two lucky finds. There is mild boredom. A time passes where nothing, nothing at all is found. There is mild despair and almost a decision to give up. But no, you prevail, you hunt harder. Only then, after that empty hopeless feeling that no treasure will be got, after you have flung your empty basket into the bush and stamped your feet, only then from the corner of your eye will you find your bounty, whether it’s a hollow full of bushes laden with blackberries or a generous cluster of ceps.
“More and more, it’s more, mostly, sensation. And how does that get translated? Into any communicable format that’s viable interchange? Or relevant to anyone else. Snips sharding, pictures, scenarios, scenes, images fleeting by and flashing through altogether in an overlaid, alternating, overlapping simultaneity – like being mentally, multiple squint.”
She gestures with her eyeballs.
“Mouth-mind coordination can’t compete with it, the tongue-lip-larynx faculty would need to split into 40 channel capacity – large scale production – I’ve been working out stage and studio versions of this type of thing for years.*1 Or, fingers and toes would have to collude as manifold pencil scribblers concurrently inscribing compound sheaves collating into many different, multi-parted writings. Qwerty? Even the swiftest, most adept adept’s got no chance of capturing the data store careening through the entire being; the physicality of it, the emotions, the feelings? I try to impose inflicting myself with practising the art form of going blank, intellectual cauterisation, grey matter amputation, just sit really still, blot the passage of consciousness, head-non impact. Halt. Quiet. Nothingness.”
She stretches for a 5 litre plastic bottle on top of the cupboard, “hot air rises” she says, and braces herself against the weight of its descent with gravity. “We keep it up there to pre-warm it. “A high to low swing has landed the bottle on the sink. “Phenomenal how such a small thought and arrangement can save so much on gas; although, of course, visually, it’s just so NOT upmarket and, the plastic’s xeno-oestrogenic!” She’s unscrewing the lid, lifting the container under her arm and pouring. “Those who don’t visit anyway would be totally confounded by it – amazing, people are content to witness something they haven’t comprehended, neither pose questions, nor ask for explanations, then snap uninformed, condescending judgements upon what their prejudice thinks it has seen. Makes them small, and me narked.”
She’s lighting the cooker. “We get water from a well. For cooking and drinking. It’s probably got all sorts of scary lurgies in it, but at least we’re not being orally poisoned by the fluoride and chlorine coming out the mains – though we’re being contaminated through our pores when we shower anyway. But, this sensation thing . . ..”Stopping, her eyelids closing, she rests her pineal on the palm of her hand.
“. . . there aren’t conventional, lingual correlations to convey the feelings or the way they feel”, her mouth and body begin shaking, an avant-garde type jerking shudder, a choreographical quiver, the limbs exacerbate themselves, lunges, swirls, precisely, aimlessly, a managed, wild gesticulating through the air space that happens to be surrounding proximity, synchronized with successively sounded, staccato plosives, “blerr plurry ruargorglickerk, grock-cruck, pflung, plickook, schlerk, quariorurk”, modulating into a glissando, pitch-bending all English vowels comprehensively, (she’s a voice artist!); it conjures up sensation that there’s just been scoop of an exclusive ‘Cave Woman’ expulsion accurately expressing articulates of profound, conceptual intention.
our next DIY arts festival, the Trash Culture Revue, will take place sometime towards the end of the year. So if you want to create, produce, get involved, play, experiment, try stuff out, have fun, design, administrate, organise, volunteer or just come along then let me know
we provide free creative and production skills for your arts projects and events through our skills exchange so you can experiment, fail, make and play no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or when you do it.