Abandoned; Not Forgotten? Co. Donegal as shared heritage
by Eilish BOSCHERT for Shared Future News
1 June 2017
This phase of the project was accompanied by fellow artists, composer Marie Therese Davis, poet Jim Johnston, and filmmaker Paul Whittaker. Each combined their respective artistic mediums to contribute to the vision of the project as a whole.
Guests were welcomed to peruse McGreevy’s photographic exposition while listening to live renditions of traditional Irish and Ulster-Scots music.
This instalment, Abandoned; Not Forgotten?, aimed its focus on the shared Irish and Ulster-Scots history and cultures behind the identity politics that served to separate communities in the 20th and 21st centuries. Each artist’s contribution hopes to bridge the divide between the Irish and Ulster-Scots — creating a cultural inclusion that celebrates local traditions on the island.
McGreevy welcomed joint-party MLAs to honour Irish and Ulster-Scots culture and heritage as well as encouraging the idea of a shared future, in the face of current political tensions facing Northern Ireland with the upcoming election.
Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtonabbey, Mrs Noreen McClelland, opened the evening with kind words and praise for McGreevy. The mixing of culture, she stated, was what was truly important about Thursday’s event. This sort of work promotes peace and reconciliation locally and internationally.
Former Minister of Culture, Arts, and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, took the floor after McClelland, and spoke on this theme for Northern Ireland. Culture and the arts, she said, “lift, nurture, respect, encourage, and give back”. Fundamentally, art has always been about inspiration and inclusion and is, therefore, an integral aspect of peacebuilding, she added.
Mary Therese Davis, accompanied by Ards Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and other young artists, performed an original composition on the theme of Abandoned; Not Forgotten? She stated that there was a great poignancy of the past that we live with on a daily basis. She hoped to convey that sorrow in her arrangement, but also strove to include the joy and familiarity of a shared cultural heritage. Many people on the island migrate to other lands, she said, but the music of the past brings them “across the sea and back again”.
The formal events of the evening ended with a dramatic rendering of Johnston’s poem by actress Victoria Gleason, dressed in 19th century period costume.
A short film created by Whittaker was projected, combining McGreevy’s artworks as stills and text from Johnston’s poem.
True to the tenor of the evening, the work conveyed shared historical experiences evocative of Donegal in the 19th century, regardless of cultural identity.
Guests were encouraged to engage with each other and the art, mingling with the artists and the MLAs in a manner that inspired dialogue on current peacebuilding efforts in Northern Ireland.
Abandoned; Not Forgotten? is open to the public throughout June at the Engine Room Gallery located on Donegall Square South, behind Belfast City Hall.
Inquiries about the exhibition can be directed at the Engine Room Gallery / 07591 202287 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiries about purchasing limited edition prints can be sent to artist Lise McGreevy / 07591 101194 / email@example.com