Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Goblin Market: Irish New Contemporary Art Book Launch and Exhibition'

Alexa from White Lady Art mailed me this press release recently (below) for the newly opened gallery's first book launch. If you haven't been to any parties in art galleries, you're missing out and I suggest you give it a try. The gallery is on the quays in Temple Bar.

Launch party 6pm Saturday 1st December
Exhibition of artwork from the book's artists for two weeks: 1.12.12 - 15.12.12.
BYOB - drinks for early birds
Goblin Market is the first publication from White Lady Art Books, featuring work from 35 of Ireland's finest New Contemporary artists. These artists are working and exhibiting in Ireland, and their artwork will be displayed in the White Lady Art gallery for two weeks.

The 35 artists who are showcased in the book work in a variety of styles that can be placed under the banner of New Contemporary art: there are urban artists, pop surrealists, outsider, folk surrealists, body horror artists, and lowbrow artists. New Contemporary art has a major following in America, Europe and the U.K., and Ireland has much to offer as well. It is high time that these unusual, unique and technically excellent artists are given recognition and appreciation in a broader context, and it is with great pleasure that White Lady Art can offer you the chance to see their work in an exhibition to accompany the launch of the book.

Goblin Market is a hardback coffee table book, that can stand up proudly beside others of its kind, and would make an ideal gift for any art lover or aficionado of the underground art scene in Ireland. The book is the first of its kind to promote New Contemporary art as a movement in itself, and the White Lady Art gallery is where you can source artwork in this style.

The launch party will be a great occasion, marking the year spent developing and honing the book into something we can all be proud of. We would like to invite you to come and celebrate the artwork and artists at this very special event.

Goblin Market facebook page:
Book launch and exhibition event page:

Monday, November 26, 2012

A different type of Dublin review

We've all been rather busy in recent times and the blog has been looking sparse but in a renewed effort to bring you something a little bit different, I wanted to continue my series of books about Dublin.

With the recent Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in mind, I want to highlight the novels of Tana French.  She's the author of four novels and I have read them all this year.  While not strictly sequels, there is a common theme of a fictional "murder squad" of Gardaí based in Dublin Castle.  A minor character from one book might be the main character in the next, and so on.  So yes, they're crime stories and they're all set in or around Dublin.  Sometimes she renames a suburb but to me it's always pretty obvious where the basis in reality lies.  I'll do my best to avoid spoilers and stick to the information that's on the blurbs.  All of her novels are easily available in paper and digital formats.

Her four novels in reading order are In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place and Broken Harbour.  Each follows a murder investigation, usually told in first person narrative.  By chance, I read Faithful Place first, and it did not particular harm to the plots of the first two books.  I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down.  It centers on a hard undercover cop, Frank Mackey, and his quest to discover what happened his teenaged girlfriend who disappeared the night she was to run away with him.  This book is set in and around the Liberties.  I felt it was a wonderful evocation of a real community with fully rounded characters and a compulsive plot that kept me reading well past lights out every night.

In a similar vein, The Likeness was really hard to put down.  The plot of this requires a small suspension of belief but it's well worth it.  Again told in first person narrative, it really reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History for its collection of quirky college students interdependent on each other and heady portrayal of that first taste of adult independent life.

French's first novel, which won several awards, In the Woods cleverly links a cold case murder with an ongoing investigation.  The main character has a major conflict of interests with both the case and his partner leading to a complex and not entirely satisfying resolution, which made it all the more realistic for me.  It features the main character from The Likeness in a best supporting role as the partner.

Ironically, given its recent win at the book awards, I think Broken Harbour is the weakest of French's novels, but it's possibly because I just plain didn't like the main character.  Even that impresses me: often when I don't feel empathy for a main character, I stop reading a book, but I read this one straight through because I *had* to find out what happened.

A recent article with French tells me she is working on a fifth Murder Squad book and I'll be looking out for that next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Blood Ties' in the New Theatre

Focus Theatre have an upcoming production in the New Theatre. I'm going to be lazy yet informative and just put up the press release, below:

The Focus Theatre in association with The New Theatre present

“Blood Ties” (3 One act plays) by Andy Hinds.

3rd to 15th December 2012, The New Theatre

‘The darker aspects of human nature are laid bare, in this questioning of contemporary relationships’


Jonathan is visiting his daughter Gracie, whose blood count has been dropping ever since he opted to live away from the family home. As his wife tries every possible means to coax Jonathan to come back, the darker aspects of the couple’s relationship are laid bare.

Cast:Paul Marron & Audrey McCoy

Director:Andy Hinds


As a motley collection of ‘street drinkers’organise their first tipple of the day we gradually come to know the circumstances that have brought the characters to this way of life, and equally the fears and self-delusions that tie them to it.

Cast: Joe Purcell, Stephen Colfer, Graeme Singleton& Colette Kelly

Director:Andy Hinds


A father waits to learn if his prematurely-born child is going to survive the night Slowly revealed are the exceptional circumstances which have lead to the conception of the child together with the potentially redemptive effect the child’s survival will have for the father.

Cast: Andy Hinds

Director:Paul Kennedy

Venue: The New Theatre

Dates: 3rd to 15th December 2012, nightly @ 7.30pm (previews 03rd & 4th Dec)

Tickets:€15/12/10, ph 01 6703361

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: 'The Poor Mouth' in Project Arts Centre

Blue Raincoat Theatre Company currently have a new play running in Project Arts Centre. The The Poor Mouth is an adaptation of the Flann O'Brien novel of the same name. The theatre company have previously produced adaptations of two other O'Brien novels, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman. The Poor Mouth is a parody of a style of Irish literature more common in O'Brien's time, devoted to moaning about the hardship of Irish life - the dreadful weather, the centuries of oppression, the abject poverty, and so on. The protagonist, Bónapárt Ó Cúnasa, lives with his family in a rural, Irish-speaking area, and the play tells us of his trials and misfortunes.

I saw the play having deliberately avoided any prior knowledge of it - I've read The Third Policeman (yes, Lost) but not The Poor Mouth, so I can't comment on how faithful an adaptation it is and this review is entirely aimed at the rest of you who haven't read the book. Take it as a positive sign that having seen the play I want to read the novel.

There's a lot to like about this production. The music is lively, the story is enjoyable, the stage is a lovely grey-green-brown map of Ireland dotted with little cottages, and O'Brien's mockery of gaelgoirs is hilarious and inspires by far the best scene of the play. I would have appreciated all of this more if the stage-lighting hadn't been pointed outwards towards the audience. Alright, it was at an angle and I was unfortunate to be in the worse possible spot (front row, left) but nonetheless the dramatic effect doesn't justify dazzling the unlucky spectators who're seated in the wrong place.

A more serious problem on the night I saw the play was that actress Ruth Lehane (playing the protagonist Ó Cúnasa) stumbled over her lines far too often. As Ó Cúnasa's dialogue dominates the play and at times is almost a monologue this was particularly noticeable.

And is it just me or did man-dressing-as-a-woman humour stop being funny some time last century?

The Poor Mouth is excellent in parts and enjoyable overall, but its cleverness isn't enough to make this an entirely satisfying performance.

Rating: 3 / 5

The Poor Mouth runs in Project Arts Centre, East Essex Street, until 24th November 2012. Performances start at 8 pm with a duration of about 1 hour 40 minutes without an interval. There is also a matinee at 3 pm on 24th November. Tickets cost from €16 to €20.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dublin Book Festival 13-18 November

The Dublin Book Festival is back next week for its 7th iteration.  Not to be confused with the writers festival earlier in the year, it takes place mostly in Temple Bar using Smock Alley and the Gutter Bookshop for events. The list of authors involved took me about 10 minutes to read through, and includes people who have not written books but are somehow involved.  It's also weirdly formatted alphabetically by first name.  There's lots of activities for kids as well as adults and these are mostly free.

A full list of events can be found on the website.  Tickets (and there is a small charge) do need to be booked for some things.  Here's a selection I think look interesting.

Tuesday 13th November (evening)
Dervla Murphy and Alice Taylor in conversation with Sean Rocks of RTÉ's Arena.

Thursday 15th November (evening)
Current affairs discussion with Vincent Browne and guests.

Friday 16th November (at lunchtime and evening)
Inspiration for Writers: The Dos and Don’ts of Getting Published

The New Generation of Publishers: eBooks vs Books

Saturday 17th November (lunchtime)
In Memory of Maeve Binchy – Patricia Scanlan, Sheila O’Flanagan and Sinéad Moriarty. Chaired by Mary Maher

Also that day, in the evening at the Gutter Book shop:
Are We All Revisionists Now? Irish Historians and the Decade of Centenaries

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coffeeangel on South Anne Street

Coffeeangel has recently opened a new cafe on South Anne Street, just off Dawson Street. Although the area has many existing cafes I can say without doubt that this is the best.

OK, so 'best' is pretty subjective in matters of taste, and I prefer light-roast coffee to dark-roasted "classic cup" or milky coffees. If you like good filter coffee then Coffeeangel is superb: both of the aeropress coffees I've tried were as good or better than any other filters I've ever had, even better than 3fe filter coffees. 3fe (Third Floor Espresso) is my benchmark for excellence in coffee, and has played a huge part in improving coffee in Dublin. Coffeeangel might be even better.

Oh, and the espresso is good too.

The cafe is a pop-up and might continue only until January. I sure hope it lasts longer.