All Arts and Parts: Confusion at Home but Great Images from Vilnius to Oslo; IAN HILL'S Weekly Arts Diary

By Hill, Ian | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), December 14, 1998 | Go to article overview

All Arts and Parts: Confusion at Home but Great Images from Vilnius to Oslo; IAN HILL'S Weekly Arts Diary


Hill, Ian, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


TWO confusions to the week's beginning. Through the letter box comes my November edition of Lagan Lines whose page 2 would have made a useful diary had it been delivered six weeks back. On it is a detailed what's on for the dear departed Belfast Fringe. Still, there's a competition, first prize dinner for two at the yet to open McCausland Hotel, so maybe you should check your copy before you bin it.

My second confusion is down to the Royal Mail whose Tomb Street counter refused to check an alternative street number when searching for an undelivered Special Delivery.

We don't make mistakes, insists an unhelpful postie, only to be proved wrong much later by Customer Service official and a friendly soul who finds the envelope logged under the incorrect number. Since it contained urgent page proofs to my new insight City Guide to Belfast, Monday is spent checking out illustrations and captions with photographer Geray Sweeney. Thus I miss out on Bass Ireland's 28th Arts Awards presentation at the Glen Road brewery where Antrim's 17-year-old violinist Jonathon Coffee and installation artist Kathy Herbert learn they're sharing the pounds 5,000.

Omagh-born, Donegal-based playwright Brian Friel put Ireland's plays back on the international stage, in Dublin, London, New York and Sydney in a manner which hasn't happened since the days of O'Casey, Shaw and Wilde. But no such acclaim follows him onto the silver screen as one London critic after another pastes the film of his life-affirming stage work Dancing at Lughnasa, set in the Donegal of 1936.

Tom Shone in the Sunday Times led the Britpack, noting his fellow critics slumbering through the preview of what he himself deemed the most boring movie of 1998. Me, I'd put much of that down to casting Meryl Streep in the elder sister role Belfast's Frances Tomelty made her own. Streep, as usual, doesn't act. She mimics, producing verisimilitude.

The Lyric's camp Christmas Alice provokes discussion of PR Richard Gaston's tie, on loan from ABSA's Paul Smyth. It perfectly matches the set decor. Much talk of the city's gay arts community, interrupted by Queen's Festival deputy director Rosie Turner who's off talent scouting for 1999 in Lithuania's beautiful Vilnius where my World Weather Guide says temperatures can drop to minus 27C in December.

I'll congratulate Paul on the tie at ABSA's Awards in the NTL Cabletel headquarters with their stunning views north across Belfast Lough.

Sir John Lavery was born in North Queen Street North in 1856. As his languorous painting The Bridge at Grez fetches pounds 1,321,500 at Christie's Tuesday auction, Arts Council chairman Brian Walker's argument for a Northern Ireland National Gallery gains weight. Till then you can see examples of Lavery's work in the City Hall, Queen's and St Patrick's on Donegall Street. It also worth remembering that the OBG can, temporarily, bring us work of great worth. A sculptor in their recent exhibition of young German artists was Thomas Schutte, whose pieces topped the great Charles Satchi London sale the same day.

l Commissioning public sculpture is a fractious business as the bad feelings and disappointments over Belfast City Council's commissioning of Rita Duffy's Shoal illustrate. And Belfast doesn't have much of a tradition going for it, our best free standing pieces city being Elizabeth Frink's floating figures in Shaftesbury Square,dubbed Draft and Overdraft on Clarke's Gable by Belfast's wits in honour of the Ulster Bank's manager of the day, plus Louise Walsh's terrific Working Women opposite Amelia Street, and, of course, the roofscape King Billy, by Harry Hems, over Clifton Street Orange Hall.

However, in the Fenderesky Gallery on University Road, checking out its Christmas show, I learn that the excellent John Kindness, whose ceramic mosaic waterfall diverts passengers inside the Europa BusCentre is to attach a 30m salmon illustrating Belfast's history to the Lagan Weir. …

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