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Hello friends/a chairde,
We hope you are all keeping safe and well this December. This month’s newsletter is themed Empathy and Recovery and features work from feature artist Féilim James and visual artist Amna Walayat. We're excited to share lots of news with you, in particular our City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival, consisting of an online workshop, panel discussion, and candle lighting ceremony on Monday 21 December, 4-6pm! We're also delighted to tell you that Artistic Director Mary Moynihan spoke at this year's EUROM Taking Stock of European Memories Conference - more details below. 

All this along with our usual News from the Network, the latest grants and opportunities, and some special News for the New Year!

Created as part of Art Connects: At Home with Smashing Times, our online series of curated arts content, newsletters, and events.

Recommended Reading

  • The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren. Informed by current insights from neuroscience, social psychology, and healing traditions, this book teaches readers why empathy is not a mystical phenomenon but a natural, innate ability that we can strengthen and develop.
    Buy here.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou. This poem uses caged birds as a metaphor for the anti-slave protests, and will probably remain one of  Angelou's most famous pieces and lasting memorials.
    Read here.
  • Empathy: The Heart of Difficult Conversations by Michelle Stowe. Stowe is a restorative practitioner, trainer and consultant. She is passionate about creating well-being and happiness in the workplace; and particularly interested in re-culturing schools and cultivating a restorative paradigm shift that honours community and connection. Listen to her TEDx Talk here.

Favourite Quotes

‘Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.’ - Alice Miller

‘No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ - Theodore Roosevelt 
‘Living consciously involves being genuine, it involves listening and responding to others honestly and openly; it involves being in the moment.’ - Sir Sidney Poitier

‘The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.’ - Meryl Streep

Featured Artists

Féilim James

Féilim James is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. His short fiction and poetry, through English and Irish, have appeared in a number of journals, including The Fiction Pool, The Galway Review, Icarus, and Comhar. In 2020, he received a bursary award from the Arts of Council of Ireland to finish his debut novel, Flower of Ash, as well as a Professional Development Award. A short film Féilim wrote, titled The Big No, was shortlisted by the IndieX Film Festival, and his work through Irish, under Féilim Ó Brádaigh, has won seven Oireachtas na Gaeilge literary awards. Visit his website here.
Getting Out
Féilim James

‘Have you ever heard… Of the case of the Talbot family from County Longfort?’

     Far-away eyes. Slow inhalation. A sip of his can of Tuborg. ‘Sad case. In the news a few years back. Good few years back now, actually.’

     Green eyes of twenty-one years turn to his compatriot’s blue, then back to the brown, middle-aged eyes of homelessness, who had spoken. ‘What happened?’

     ‘Terrible, terrible case.’ He shakes his head in the half-light. They drink by the night-time waters of the Corrib, standing adjacent to the Spanish Arch. Behind them, Galway city rumbles. In front, the dark water flows, loosening the bed of memory.

     Cold, brown eyes turn to face green-blue. ‘Never heard of it, no?’
     ‘Ehmm… No, can’t say I have.’
     ‘Afraid I’m the same,’ echoes blue. ‘What, was it like a big story at the time or..?’
     ‘Well, it wasn’t found out about at the time. Only later. Anyway, it happened in the eighties. Husband and wife in their forties. Three kids, not too young at this stage. The father, anyway, was your quiet kinda fella. Kept to himself. You know the type.’

     Blue-green up and down.

     ‘A kind, hard-workin man all the same. But see, him and the wife, they never saw eye to eye really. Hadn’t for years. In fact, they rarely spoke anymore but to argue and bicker, and the like. The husband, fella he was, became even more silent as the years went by.’

     Cans sipped. Liquid flowing.
Continue Reading

Amna Walayat

Amna Walayat is a visual artist and holds an MA in Modern and Contemporary Art, History, Theory and Criticism from UCC, Cork, Ireland (2015). She also holds an MA in Fine Arts from University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan (2002). She is a recipient of Arts Council Ireland’s ‘Visual Artist Bursary Award, 2020’. She is currently based in Cork and works as artist and curator with a keen interest in history, art history and contemporary art; particularly in the area of colonialism, orientalism, migration and gender while  dealing with the subjects of hegemony, exploitation, power, and control.
18 x 12 inches
Traditional Indian Miniature Painting
November 2020
Amna’s painting ‘Broken’ is an artistic response to the campaign against the controversial Mother and Baby Homes Bill which seals official records related to them for 30 years. 
In the painting, Amna has represented a broken lotus flower in the hand of a nun which is attached to a placenta. The lotus is a symbol of “modesty and purity” which starts to grow in the dark, dirty, and muddy water but manages to surpass the water and produce a perfect flower when it reaches light. Many Hindu gods and buddhas are depicted sitting or standing on a lotus flower for the same reason. Here, Amna has used the symbol to represent “the children of sin” - the children born out of wedlock and mistreated for that reason in Mother and Baby homes.
Amna uses the Krishnagar style of drawing from traditional Indian miniature painting. This traditional miniature style includes the use of Wasli (a special paper prepared while adjoining three or more sheets together with gum Arabic, or acacia gum), organic colours, minerals, and brushes. Her image of a nun is derived from “Bani Thani” - the Mona Lisa of East.
Amna is originally from Rawalpindi, Pakistan near Taxila. Taxila is home to Buddhist monasteries and stupas. On various occasions her work presents the lotus symbol and eastern mythologies. These symbols can be found in her works below; ‘Gang Rape’ and ‘Connecting Self- Quarantine series’.
Gang Rape
12 x 6 inches
Traditional Indian Miniature Painting
Connecting Self-Quarantine

Smashing Times News

City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival 21 December 2020

Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality and Slí an Chroí Holistic Centre are delighted to announce the 11th annual City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration Festival taking place on Monday 21 December 2020 from 4pm with events happening online.

Come and gather with us on the darkest day, step into the warmth of our online creative events as we welcome the return of the light on this festive and magical night. You are invited to take part in this year’s magical events to honour the Winter Solstice on December 21, marking the shortest day of the year which is celebrated worldwide. Join us for an  inclusive gathering of people of all ethnicities and cultures to honour the Winter Solstice and to reach out and connect with others in times of physical distancing. 

Our theme this year is Crossing Borders – Self-Care Across Communities. The Winter Solstice is a time to reflect on the importance of empathy and compassion for ourselves and others and our common connections to nature.  Join our artists and panel members as we come together on a cross-community basis to reflect on themes of empathy, compassion, and care for ourselves and the communities around us.

Creative Connections Arts-Based Workshop, 4pm online
Artist Facilitators: Michael McCabe, Theatre Director and Facilitator and Noelle McAlinden, Visual Artist
Where:  Online
When: Monday 21 December, 2020, 4-5pm
Booking: Book the Creative Connections Arts-Based Workshop here
A Cross-Community Winter Solstice Celebration workshop using art and creativity to explore what connects us in challenging times.  Come together with diverse communities to explore how to build connections on a cross-community basis with a focus on self and community care as we welcome the return of the light out of times of darkness.  Participants will take part in discussion, gentle drama games and exercises and visual art explorations on themes of creativity, self-care and cross-community connections. Suitable for ages 18 and up.

Winter Solstice Creative Connections Panel Discussion and Candle Ceremony Online
Artists and Speakers: Noelle McAlinden, Mary Moynihan, Féilim James, Dr Karen Ward and Kwasie Boyce
Where:  Online
When: Monday 21 December, 2020, 5-6pm
Booking: Book the Creative Connections Winter Solstice Panel Discussion and Candle Ceremony here.

Join us for a fun Creative Connections panel discussion to explore and celebrate the 2020 Winter Solstice and the role of the arts and culture to promote creative connections and cultural diversity. The discussion focuses on holistic well-being; a creative exploration of the Winter Solstice and its relevance in today’s world; and an exploration and celebration of ancient traditions with current cultural practices in Ireland and globally. 
Our panel discussion will end with a reflective moment to light a candle in remembrance of all those who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Have your own candle or light ready as we reflect on all that has happened during the past year. Our message is for a brighter future and hope and equality for all as we join in solidarity with our neighbours, friends and strangers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and across the globe.
Panel Members
Noelle McAlinden is a Visual Artist, Creative Advisor, Mental Health Campaigner, Curator and Cultural Broker from Northern Ireland.
Mary Moynihan is a Writer, Theatre and Film-Maker and Artistic Director, Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality.
Féilim James is an award-winning writer and poet and a recent recipient of an Arts Council bursary award.
Dr Karen Ward is a well-known Holistic Psychotherapist and co-founder and co-director of Slí an Chroí Holistic Centre. Karen was involved with RTE’s Health Squad and as an Energy Therapist with BBC’s Last Resort providing expert advice and guidance on all aspects of holistic health. She co-facilitates the Medicine & Healers Spiral with her husband John Cantwell at Slí an Chroí School of Celtic Shamanism.
Kwasie Boyce is the Founder, Director and Drama Facilitator of M.A.D. Youth Theatre, Dundalk, Co Louth.

On Wednesday 25 November, Smashing Times Artistic Director Mary Moynihan was delighted to present at The Wheel’s EU Funding and Civil Society: The Launch of Access Europe.

This event with Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne TD launched The Wheel’s Access Europe project. Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Access Europe is a continuation of a previous successful project also involving The Wheel that will provide information, advice, helpdesk support and network building opportunities for civil society organisations around accessing and managing EU funding. It also launched the first of what will be a series of Access Europe Spotlight Events, in which The Wheel will highlight up-and-coming EU policy areas and the opportunities available to civil society through them.

Mary was delighted to be introduced as the first special guest to speak to the 300 registered audience members, about how the work of Smashing Times developed through its European projects. Speaking about projects such as ‘Drama for Change’ and ‘Women War and Peace’ provided the audience with a background into the work of Smashing Times, and highlighted the impact that accessing European funding can have on an organisation’s development. Through accessing funding from Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens and Communicating Europe, Smashing Times have been successful in consistently promoting European values of human rights and equality for all.

For more information on our European projects, click here.

News for the New Year

Artist Professional Development Programme
The aims of the  Artist Professional Development programme  are to provide an opportunity to present and share work, to talk and build deeper connections, to explore artistic collaborations and to raise the profile and visibility for arts and human rights.
The Programme will continue through 2021, with monthly meetings to offer support and connection for artists through the forecasted period of Covid-19 isolation. These meetings will consist of networking opportunities, workshops promoting positive mental health and open sessions to discuss collaborative projects. For more info contact Ciara at 

Smashing Times International Network for the Arts and Human Rights
The Smashing Times International Network for the Arts, Human Rights and Gender Equality is made up of members who wish to advocate for the development of the arts to promote human rights and gender equality, and establish stronger links between artistic, cultural, political and human rights related organisations.
The next event for the Network will take place on 11 February, 2021, and will include artists from the Professional Development Programme. Artists will be given an opportunity to speak about their work and highlight their artistic practise to network members. Members of the network will be able to ask the artists questions on their work and the artists’ role in promoting human rights through creative practice. Join here.

Smashing Times European Projects 2021
In 2021 Smashing Times are delighted to announce that we will begin work on the following European Projects:
Forgotten Voices: Stories of Hope, Courage and Resilience from the Holocaust and WWII, a new project using creative processes of theatre, film, online digital technologies and social media campaigns to remember forgotten stories of humanity, courage and resilience from the Holocaust and World War II, linking those stories to solidarity today and the key role the EU plays in promoting democracy, equality and peace for all. Funded by Europe for Citizens.
Our Civic Heritage, which seeks to promote European common values and civic education and engagement in Europe. It addresses three types of target groups: members of the public that are interested in civic participation activities, educators that teach civic participation and cultural heritage, and policy makers and those working in the cultural heritage and civic sector whether in a public or private capacity. Funded by Erasmus+
PAUSE, Practices and Approaches for Upskilling Educators” is aimed at exchanging experience and good practices for improving the skills and competences of educators working with vulnerable adults. Funded by Erasmus+
We also continue the development of our current European Projects
Arts for Human Rights, a European wide three-year, transnational partnership project using creative processes of theatre and film and new digital technologies to promote learning and raising awareness in relation to human rights and gender equality across Europe. Funded by Erasmus+
Equality Ambassadors, using creativity and new digital technologies to promote democracy, equality and human rights with youth workers and young people in an Equal Europe. Funded by Erasmus+
Play it Out Loud, which explores the use of theatre games and exercises to build social skills with young people. Funded by Erasmus+
Art Meets Digital Technology, a unique project bringing  different organisations together to  share experiences and practice in new digital technologies that impact on the world of artists, circuses,  varieté/vaudeville and  theatres; exploring new digital  technology tools and their usage, and pathways for upskilling artists, acrobats,  dancers, painters, set designers, musical artists, mime artists and  players. Funded by Erasmus+
Recognition of the Social Theatre Operator as a professional to tackle the Risk of social Exclusion (RESTORE), which aims to promote cooperation and an exchange of best practice amongst seven European organisations to increase training opportunities for professionals working in the field of socially engaged theatre practice. Funded by Erasmus+
Arts 4 Us – Youth Actors for Inclusion through Participatory Arts, which uses the power of the arts to transform the lives of young people (mixed-ability youth) and to promote positive mental wellbeing and inclusion. Funded by Erasmus+
Value and Attitudes Education For Inclusive Europe (EVIA), a three-year project which will develop a new education programme called EVA – Education for Values and Attitudes – and an EVA educational platform. The EVA educational programme will contain a toolkit and media content, that primary and secondary school teachers can access in order to work with students to raise awareness of the European Union goals and history and to cultivate European values of democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law. Funded by Erasmus+
2021 will also see the culmination of the following projects:
EU 1979: A People's Parliament – Democracy, Human Rights and Women’s Political Participation, a European art-based project using creative processes of film, a feminist framework and online digital resources to remember the first 1979 European parliamentary elections through a celebration of the stories and names of the 67 powerful women MEP’s elected at that time. Funded by Europe for Citizens.
Art, Fascism and Democracy: The Politics of Division versus the Politics of Inclusion, this 
project tells the stories of artists and activists  who supported democracy and
freedom and stood up against fascism in a time of war. Using theatre, film and political
activism, organisations from four different countries across Europe work collaboratively
to reflect on the ending of the Spanish Civil War as a key turning point in European
history. Funded by Europe for Citizens.

Taking Stock of European Memory Policies

European Observatory of Memory’s third annual meeting ‘Taking Stock of European Memory Policies’, took place online from December 9 to 10.
Smashing Times Artistic Director, Mary Moynihan, was delighted to speak at the online roundtable discussion on ‘Best Practices: Remembrance Projects and Dissemination Strategies’. Mary spoke about Smashing Times’ European project, EU 1979: A People’s Parliament, and the virtual exhibition of the same name created to showcase artwork and interviews relating to the project. Click here to read her speech.
EU 1979: A People’s Parliament – Democracy, Human Rights and Women’s Political Participation is a European art-based project using creative processes of film, a feminist framework, and online digital resources to remember the 1979 European elections through a celebration of stories of 67 powerful women MEPs elected at that time. Out of the 410 MEP’s elected in the 1979 EU elections, 67 were women. This project highlights the important role of the EU in promoting democracy, human rights and equality for all, as well as recognising the significant role the EU has played in the promotion of women in political life at national and EU levels.

Artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland: Noelle McAlinden, Visual Artist, Creative Advisor,  Mental Health Campaigner, Curator, and Cultural Broker; Hina Khan, Visual Artist; Mary Moynihan, Writer, Theatre and film-maker, and Artistic Director, Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality; Feilim James, Poet and Writer.
Project Partners: Smashing Times, Ireland (Dublin); Dona Daria, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Germany; and Francais Pour L’Insertion Sociale et Professionnelle en Europe, France. Funded by Europe for Citizens.
The roundtable discussion also highlighted the ENRS project ‘Making Memory Alive Together’,  the new website of the Jean Monnet House, the project ‘Migraid’, and the 4th issue of the EUROM magazine, ‘Observing Memories’.
View Roundtable Discussion Here

Empathy, Recovery and Standing Up For Human Rights

In honour of World Human Rights Day which took place on 10 December, Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality hosted a meeting of the Artist Development Programme based on the World Human Rights Day 2020 themes of ‘Empathy, Recovery and Standing Up for Human Rights’.
The meeting featured artistic presentations by Noelle McAlinden, Hina Khan and Roxana Manouchehri, who discussed how their respective arts practices have dealt with the themes of empathy, recovery and standing up for human rights. This meeting also allowed all other attending artists the opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas on artistic work celebrating these themes, and in particular, the importance of empathy when addressing human rights issues through the arts.

The aims of the  Artist Professional Development programme  are to provide an opportunity to present and share work, to talk and build deeper connections, to explore artistic collaborations and  supports needed going forward and to raise the profile and visibility for arts and human rights. Our next meeting, themed 'A Creative Celebration of Positive Mental Health and Well-Being', will take place 14 January, 2pm.

For information and to join the Artist Professional Development Progamme, please contact Ciara at

News from the Network

Continue Reading Here
Puppetry Art in Adult Education – Addressing the Needs of Groups Experiencing Disadvantage
From 2–4 December, Teatr Grodzki facilitated three days of online training workshops, on the use of puppetry and storytelling to support different groups experiencing social disadvantage or who are at risk of social exclusion.
The main aim of these workshops was to enable participants to use puppetry techniques as a creative and playful method suitable for supporting vulnerable people in their self-development.
By the completion of the training programme the participants were able to:
  • build a simple puppet out of ordinary materials and animate it, as well as teach others how to do it
  • use different objects to enhance creativity, self-expression and develop the courage to take up new challenges
  • apply the rules of non-verbal/visual storytelling to the creation of a theatrical piece
  • apply the rules of non-verbal/visual storytelling to working with vulnerable workshop participants on their personal problems
  • design and run their own workshop programme with the use of puppetry and theatre storytelling
These workshops took place as part of the Restore project, which uses theatre methodologies to support different groups experiencing social disadvantage or who are at risk of social exclusion.

More information on the Restore project available here.

Grants and Opportunities

CQAF Creative Bursaries - Out to Lunch Festival
Closing date: Fri 18 Dec, 4pm
Link to the above here.

Belfast City Council COVID-19 Community Recovery Support Fund Medium Grant
Closing date: Fri 18 Dec
Link to the above here.

Offaly County Council Arts Acts Grants 2021
Closing date: Wed 20 Jan
Link to above here.

Artist in Residency and Creative Enquiry – Cork Midsummer Festival
Closing date: Tues 22 Dec, 4pm
Link to above here.

D/deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund – Northern Ireland
Closing date: Fri 18 Dec, 4pm
Link to above here.
Thanks everyone, we hope you enjoyed reading this month’s edition. Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter on 21 January, themed ‘Arts and Mental Health’.
Everyone at Smashing Times would like to wish you all a happy and safe Christmas, and our very best wishes for the New Year.

Stay safe,

The Smashing Times Team
Copyright © 2022 Smashing Times, All rights reserved.

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