Derry – The Fold Creative Convention

Derry, across the river Foyle, Saturday 30 November 2013.

This weekend saw artists, curators and academics (of both literature and art) from around the country coming together in Derry to ‘The Fold’, two days of talks and an exhibition launch to celebrate the culmination of the Colm Cille’s Spiral project. It was a fantastic weekend, and I’m so happy to have been able to be a part of such an interesting and thought-provoking series of events.

‘The Fold’ started on Saturday afternoon, with presentations given by artists and curators from different ‘knots’ in the ‘spiral’ given at the Verbal Arts Centre. Each presenter talked about the creative process of being inspired by the story of Colm Cille/ St Columba, synthesising and reflecting on the facts and fantasies of the medieval world, and creating something new. Something contemporary made as a connection to the past.

The Glasgow School of Art’s video was one of the best presentations by a knot of the spiral. See this link to watch it, it follows how a group of artists went off to Rassay, Scotland, along with curators and academics, to explore the story of Colm Cille and explore one of the landscapes associated with him, before returning home to produce artistic responses.

Following the talks, we moved on to the London Street Gallery. The space worked well for the work – the gallery being an enormous house, with each knot given a room in the house.

The Fold, The London Street Gallery, Derry. Featuring work from the Glasgow School of Art’s ‘Convocation’ response to Colm Cille.

The crowd at The Fold.

The only criticism of the exhibition launch was that it was almost too successful! I wasn’t able to linger for long on each work, as masses of people circulated the gallery. I don’t have a picture or video, but a time-lapse video installation of footage recorded on Lindisfarne made for the most engrossing exhibit. I can’t find a video online either. I’ll post it as soon as I can. In any case, the installation consisted of two siamese floor-t0-ceiling projection, with one side showing shots of the land, the other the sea. One particular time-lapse was recorded over sunset, and there is a breathtaking moment when the sun dips below the horizon of the sea, and light bursts over the skies, flushing everything in yellows and pinks. I imagined how holy people since the time of Colm Cille had watched that sunset, and how belief in a higher being would come so naturally for witnessing it.

On the ancient walls which surround the city of Derry. With added Heaney.

Day two was a day for reflection. I haven’t quite compiled my thoughts on this, but ideas of value and the future fill my notebook. What’s the point of using art to explore the past, of learning about long-gone people and stories? How do we value the contribution of literary historians to public engagement events? How do we judge the value of a project such as Colm Cille’s Spiral? How do stories of the past fit into our future, into the future of those not involved in education or arts institutions?

These are big questions, which will certainly occupy me for a while. Fully formed responses to come.

The brilliant Ceara Conway sent us off with a song.

Derry, view over Bogside, Sunday 1 December 2013.

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