As the year closes we reflect on our Art:2016 programme which placed artists and the arts at the centre of how the nation commemorated the Centenary celebrations of the Easter Rising 1916.
Black and Tan Shoe Polish, The Souvenir Shop, Rita Duffy. Photo: Stanislav Nikolov
The Arts Council, through support from the State was charged with remembering, celebrating and interrogating the Centenary of the Easter Rising 1916 through art and ideas. In recognising the part played by artists in the events of 1916, and in recognising the role of the artist in contemporary Ireland, we developed a programme that represented a key response by our contemporary artists to the centenary. We signalled to artists to share their ambition and vision with us, to allow others see as they do.
Launch of 16 x 16: Next Generation bursaries, Áras an Uachtaráin,16 December 2015. [Photo: Maxwells]
As 2016 ends we would like to thank all those artists who participated in our programme, for offering their vision and insight into who we are as a people and a state, and who and what we can become. We gave artists artistic freedom without any curatorial frame and trusted them to come up with their own responses to 1916. The resulting projects were playful, intellectual, irreverent and proud.
Butterflies and Bones, The Casement Project. Photo: Sasko lazarov/Photocall Ireland
It was reassuring for us to have their diverse voices represented in the different projects as we asked questions of ourselves about identity, nationality and memory. ART: 2016 was a distinctive showcase of Irish art that invigorated and provoked the Irish imagination that was only made possible by the strong partnership we developed throughout the year with the Ireland 2016 team.
HEED FM Kirsty Mitchell, Detail from Nevermind, That’s life, Mixed Media 2016.
As Fintan O'Toole said recently, ‘Is it too much to hope that the chief legacy of 2016 will be a new pride in our artists and a new understanding of what the imagination means to a republic?' (Irish Times 29/10/16). It would be a lasting tribute to the memory of those who dreamed of a different Ireland in 1916 that our artists and image makers of 2016 become the chief signifiers of the State.
Paul Muldoon and David Brophy with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and A Nation's Voice choir, Collins Barracks, 27 March 2016. Photo: Barry Cronin.