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The Art of Smashing Times  - Weekly Newsletter

Hello Friends/A Chairde

We hope this newsletter finds you well, and that you, your friends, and your family are safe and healthy. 

The present difficulties have induced many changes for each and every one us. Our day-to-day existence has been radically altered. Many of us are at home all of the time now. Some people, such as medical workers, delivery people, and supermarket employees, bravely travel to work each day in the knowledge that they are putting themselves at risk. Their bravery is not just admirable, but something without which society would not be able to function. For this we thank them.

In addition to the courage shown by these sectors, there are also reasons for positivity for those of us confined to our homes. Our daily existence has been pared back to the essentials. We only leave home to get food, to exercise. We are only spending time around those closest to us, be they family, partners, or housemates. Though they may be driving us insane, we are becoming closer all the time. We are learning, adapting, growing. We are reaching out to those most in need, such as our elderly relatives or neighbours. Preoccupations with status and appearance fall away as we are reminded what is most important. Sometimes, the dark shows us why we need the light.

There are many reasons to be positive, and many things to cherish. Prime among these is art. Where would we all be right now without films, without books, withour creativity? This new series of newsletters, brought to you by the Smashing Times Centre for the Arts and Equality, is dedicated to all the art forms that may touch us in different ways. And to start it off, this week's edition will run with that most pressing of themes: reflections on change. Read on for poetry, quotations, paintings, videos, the art of cooking, and more!

This newsletter is run as part of Art Connects: At Home with Smashing Times. Click here for more information.

The Open Window by Henri Matisse
Feilim James, Smashing Times


Starting us off we have this fabulous painting by French artist Henri Matisse, titled The Open Window (1905). Matisse, alongside Picasso, is considered to be the foremost innovator of early twentieth century art. Whereas many of his contemporaries, particularly those operating under the banner of Cubism, opted to innovate with regard to shape and space, Matisse's work centred on the vibrancy and expressiveness of colour. In The Open Window, painted during what has come to be known as his Fauvist period, captures the view from Matisse's south of France apartment. Yet this is far from a naturalistic depiction. The outlines are blurred, while certain large objects, such as the boats, are conveyed in a mere handful of brushstrokes. The hue of the walls, the French doors, and even the sea is distorted as Matisse captures mood and emotion through bright, radiant colours.

As we spend much of our time at home during the present crisis, many of us will find ourselves looking out of windows a lot more, perhaps without even realising it. There is so much to see even in the small segment of the world that occupies the space outside our windows. So much colour and stillness, and yet, when we peel back the surface, so much change, so much constant flux. Just like Matisse's lopsided boat that in the next instant will be bobbing in the other direction. Take a moment to look outside your window, to see what you may have missed before, or even just to appreciate what's there.
 
Hope is the thing with feathers
Emily Dickinson

 
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
 
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
 
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

An extended metaphor, this poem likens the concept of hope to a feathered bird that is permanently perched in the soul of every human. There it sings, never stopping in its quest to inspire. Hope Is The Thing With Feathers stands out as a reminder to all - no matter the circumstances each and every one of us has this entity within that is always there to help us out, by singing.

A Reflection on Change

by Niamh Clowry, Development Officer, Smashing Times

'Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything' – Plato

By the start of the second week of working from home, I made, what is (to me anyway) a very significant change in my daily routine. I stopped turning on the radio first thing in the morning. I stopped looking for updates on Twitter and I stopped listening to the latest COVID-19 update as I ate my breakfast. I made the decision that one COVID-19 update a day was quite enough and the days are long enough. I needed a better way to start the day.

When I removed the news and the constant stream of updates, I replaced it with music. I now find myself with a playlist for every genre, covering every emotion I might be feeling and I have found myself falling back in love with music. Somehow in the pace of life in recent years I had forgotten just how powerful music can be. How it can lift your spirits. How it can combat negative feelings and anxieties. Music can improve blood flow in ways similar to statins, decrease levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol, and ease pain. It can almost wrap its arms around you and provide you a comfort you didn’t know you needed.

My go to COVID-19 playlist for ensuring that you start your day the right way is

  • Wake Up Boo – The Boo Radleys
  • Feeling Good – Nina Simone
  • The Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News (a personal favourite in any playlist) 
  • Run the World (Girls) – Beyonce
  • Roar – Katy Perry
  • Sunburst – Picturehouse
  • Wake Me Up Before you Go Go – Wham (yes really!)
  • Wouldn’t it Be Nice – Beach Boys
  • Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine

So this week, instead of worrying about the latest news updates, make your own go-to playlist and let music give you that hug that we all need right now! Email us the songs that are getting you through at info@smashingtimes.ie

Photo: © Spencer Imbrock

Excerpt from Anam Cara by John O'Donohue


The late Irish poet and non-fiction writer John O'Donohue has some piercing reflections on the theme of solitude, perfect for the current moment. Here is one of our favourite passages:

'Solitude is one of the most precious things in the human spirit. It is different from loneliness. When you are lonely, you become acutely conscious of your own separation. Solitude can be a homecoming to your own deepest belonging. One of the lovely things about us as individuals is the incommensurable in us. In each person, there is a point of absolute nonconnection with everything else and with everyone. This is fascinating and frightening. It means that we cannot continue to seek outside ourselves for things we need from within. The blessings for which we hunger are not to be found in other places or people. These gifts can only be given to you by yourself. They are at home at the hearth of your soul.'

Excerpt from the book Anam Cara by John O'Donohue. Click here for ordering info.

Photo: © Ann Cahill

 

Successful First Art Connects Live Stream

 

We were delighted with how our first Art Connects Live Stream went last Friday night, 3 April 2020, where we screened Tell Them Our Names and held a post-screening panel discussion with Artistic Director Mary Moynihan, author and journalist Clodagh Finn, and the historian Bernard Wilson. We welcomed our audience from Ireland and a number of European Countries including Spain, Italy, Serbia and Germany and from the US and Canada. Tell Them Our Names is a film by Mary Moynihan, Smashing Times and High Wire Ltd, and was selected for the Kerry Film Festival and London Eye International Film Festival. 

Opening on an anonymous beach in Europe, a group of women and children line up in front of a bureaucrat’s desk, only to be barked at by a gatekeeper. But the women are not silent. They are here for a reason. An unexpected act of violence is carried out, as the women become authors of their own stories.  Tell Them Our Names is an imagined re-creation of moments from the lives of five powerful women during WWII recalling moments of bravery, sacrifice and love amidst the horror of war, as women stood up against Fascism and totalitarianism and refused to accept oppression. See credits below.
 
Director: Mary Moynihan
Producer: Freda Manweiler
Production Company: Smashing Times and High Wire
Script: Paul Kennedy, Mary Moynihan, Fiona Bawn Thompson from a devising process with the cast
Cast: Fiona Bawn Thompson, Margaret Toomey, Raymond Keane, Romana Testasecca, Ella Brady and Mary Moynihan.
Editor: Mark Quinn
Lighting Camera: Ken O’Mahony, Matt Kirrane
 

Tell Them Our Names was created as part of Women War and Peace, a European transnational project co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union. As part of our remembrance work conducted for this project, we created a Women War and Peace digital book, edited by Mary Moynihan, Smashing Times, with a foreword by Marian Harkin, MEP, Ireland. The book contains articles, research and 23 women’s stories from WWII and the Holocaust - highlighting stories of women from Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland who promoted liberty, campaigned against Nazism and Fascism, spoke out against totalitarianism and advocated for peace. The stories reflect on WWII and the Holocaust as well as the Spanish Civil War and the Irish Uprising of 1916. The editor of the book is Mary Moynihan and key contributors are Edyta Pietrzak, Inga Kuzma, Fernando Benavente Tendillo Kilian Cuerda Ros, Arne Schrader, Freda Manweiler, Jessie Maguire, Bernard Wilson (writing about the life of Mary Elmes) and Nadia Clare Smith (writing about the life of Dorothy Macardle). To read the Women War and Peace book and for more information on the project click here

Next Art Connects Live Stream this Friday

 
The next live stream as part of Art Connects: At Home with Smashing Times takes place this Friday night. Acting for the Future will go live at 10 April 2020, 7:30pm, and will feature a live stream of film clips from The Big No and Testimonies and a ‘self-care’ talk to promote positive mental health and well-being. The talk and exercise demonstrations will be delivered by Eimear Burke, counselling psychotherapist, and Larissa Manley, arts facilitator and Development Officer with the Smashing Times Youth Arts Ensemble, who will be joined by a representative of our project partners the Samaritans. Eimear will talk about positive mental health and well-being and tips for handling stress and anxiety in difficult times and both Eimear and Larissa will talk about the Acting for the Future programme run with diverse communities and demonstrate simple exercises including a guided meditation. 

Our next live-stream event takes place on Friday 10 April at 7.30pm. To join click here at 7.30 on Friday 10 April when we go live. You do not need to register before hand.  If you have any questions please email info@smashingtimes.ie 

 

Art Connects Live Stream, 17 April

 
The third edition of the Art Connects Live Stream takes place on 17 April 2020 at 7:30pm, and will consist of performances and a chat celebrating the arts and human rights. Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality is committed to promoting creative arts practice and research in support of rights and values for all citizens equally across the globe and in support of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. Join our live stream for performances and chat on a celebration of arts and human rights as we work with theatre and film artists Raymond Keane and Geraldine McAlinden; singer and songwriter Farah Elle and writer, theatre and film maker Mary Moynihan. Our guests will chat and perform live as they explore their own work and the work of artists in the past and today who stood up against Fascism and promoted human rights. For this event, do contact us online and  tell us (a) who your equality, diversity and human rights hero is or (b) tell us about your favourite artist or arts project for human rights?  
 
Smashing Times and Front Line Defenders in partnership with a range of organisations will implement the 2020 Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival to showcase and highlight the extraordinary work of human rights defenders in Ireland and around the world, past and present, and the role of the arts and artists in promoting human rights today. The theme of this year’s festival is Voices of Hope, Courage and Resilience and the festival will run for ten days from Friday 16 October to Sunday 25 October 2020 at a range of venues including the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Science Gallery Dublin, and dlr Mill Theatre Dundrum.
 
To join click here at 7.30 on Friday 17 April when we go live. You do not need to register before hand.  If you have any questions please email info@smashingtimes.ie 
 

Smashing Times Videos


Now for some home-made Smashing Times videos! The first is called 'The Art of Theatre, how to make a dumpster mask' and it's made by Larissa Manley, Smashing Times Youth Arts Development Officer, where she shows how to make masks. Perfect for honing your costume-making skills, or simply for a bit of fun.
The second is one made by Féilim James, our Communications Officer and a writer, poet and novelist, where he reads his poem This Wind about the coronavirus pandemic. You can read the poem here in Pendemic. 
The website is an excellent hub of coronavirus-related writing, if you've written anything, of any genre, on the subject of the crisis, submit to them now!

Below is the poem in full:

This Wind

How fragile
These wings of wax

(This wind is blowing in our door)

How brittle
These iron lungs

(This wind is climbing up our stairs)

How delicate
This leaf upon this twig upon this tree

(This wind is in the hallway
Dancing with a monstrous glee)

How frail
These hands of ours

That cannot catch the wind

This wind that is in our bedroom now
Trying to smother the dawn
 

The Art of Food


Lastly, here's a video of Company Manager Freda Manweiler showing how to make Rhubarb crumble. A simple, straightforward process for a really tasty meal. If you try this yourselves, please email us on any pictures at info@smashingtimes.ie Special thanks to Larissa Manley for editing, and William Caughey for his advice on all matters butter!

 

That's all for now. Stay tuned for the event on Friday, and next week's newsletter too.

Keep well,

The Smashing Times Team
 
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