Every two years since 1895, Venice has hosted the Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition. The Biennale is now a major international Art Expo that features contributions from around the world as well as attracting over half a million visitors to the city.
While there are official Biennale locations all across Venice, the main locations are the The Giardini, which houses 30 permanent national pavilions, and The Arsenale, where an exhibition of invited artists takes place. The Arsenale also houses many countries that do not have a permanent pavilion, including Ireland, which is represented this year by Jesse Jones with her work called Tremble Tremble.
I was in Venice recently to check out the 2017 Art Biennale exhibition. The low and heavy clouds gave the city a fog that was both otherworldly and romantic. Even when cold and grey, Venice has an allure; a faded elegance that gives the city a slightly unreal quality. Like it is a beautifully art-directed film set. It’s the perfect setting to be inspired by art.
I was a guest on TV3’s Six O’Clock show on Friday. You can watch back on the TV3 player here (for as long as the link works). I spoke about how I’ve been performing as Shirley Temple Bar for twenty years, becoming ‘myself’ on Telly Bingo and how I worked with Arcade Fire on their last album. I also ate a walnut, which got lodged in my crooked teeth.
Killiney Bay, to the south of Dublin Bay, has been compared to the Bay of Naples and, to be fair, it’s quite the view. The stunning vista takes in Bray Head, the Sugar Loaf mountains and Killiney beach. Homes with this view are among the most expensive in Dublin (and therefore Ireland) and boast residents like Bono, Enya and Neil Jordan.
I visited the coastline of North Mayo —part of Ireland’s visually stunning Wild Atlantic Way. The rugged and breath-taking landscape features the amazing Dun Briste Sea Stack as well as areas of unique historical importance, like the Ceide Fields. Hidden for thousands of years under bog land, these Neolithic stone field markings are the oldest known such field systems in the world. They are over five and a half thousand years old and shed light on the kind of communities that were in existence in this part of Ireland at that time: large groups of organised farmers who lived in relatively peaceful conditions. Climate change and political upheaval are suggested as the reason why the communities disbanded, leaving behind farmlands that were eventually consumed by the bogs. The fields were excavated by archaeologists over the last 40 years and there is now a fascinating interpretative centre at the site to explain their origins.