Clonmel Junction Arts Festival, one of the key arts events of the summer in the South-East, is going ahead – in a re-worked and re-imagined fashion.
With a theme of 2020:Visionaries, the festival will have several placeholder events from July 4 to 12, even if restrictions are still in place, including a virtual Visionaries Symposium where legendary composer Roger Doyle, enigmatic visual artist Ailbhe NÍ Bhriain, and the inspirational Adrian Jackson of UK-based theatre company Cardboard Citizens, talk about their work, their process, and their vision.
The Boatmen of Clonmel Art Trail, with work by sound artist Karen Power amongst others, is a collaboration with Tipperary Museum of Hidden History.
Five installations will be in place during Festival Week and there will be pop-up galleries in shop windows to bring the town to life.
Artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly, founders of the School of Looking, who fascinated Festival audiences in 2018 with their Meta Perceptual Helmets, will deliver Vision Revolution: 7 Lectures on the Electromagnetic Spectrum to a digital platform.
Artistic Director Cliona Maher explains, “Back in 2019 we blithely chose the theme of Visionaries for our 2020 festival - inspired by the phrase 20/20 Vision, and encompassing vision both in terms of how we see, and how we create.
Vision for future
“Today, in a transformed world, vision has become all the more important… what is our collective vision in this changed context? How do we see the world from this new point of view? What will our vision be for the future?”
As this new vision revolution is born, Cleary and Connolly will narrate another vision revolution, one which took place slowly over two centuries, and revealed the entire universe to us - the discovery of the electromagnetic spectrum.
In seven lectures, Cleary and Connolly take each type of light and tell the inspiring, and often tragic, human stories of the men and women behind its discovery, while considering a wide range of artistic, aesthetic, and ethical questions related to their uses.
The vision and scope of these lectures is immense, swooping from the vastness of the cosmic microwave background to the nano scale of a gamma ray, and is based on research undertaken over the last year as Cleary and Connolly prepare a major new visual art exhibition for the Crawford Gallery of Art, to open in September 2020, in collaboration with Tyndall National Institute, IPIC, and supported by the SFI Discovery programme.
“We’re delighted that we can still bring the unique vision of The School of Looking to our audiences,” said Cliona. “We’re busy researching suitable platforms for the digital elements of the festival and we feel that this will be something that we can build into future festival plans.”
Not all Festival plans will be achievable.
The Festival was in pre-production with two original theatre productions for 2020. Overlook – A Military Story, a devised site-specific play directed by Jack Reardon, and The Boatmen Of Clonmel, based on the work of CJ Boland and directed by Liam Halligan, with musical arrangement by Donal Clancy, have been placed on hold.
Cliona Maher explained “it’s upsetting for everyone involved as so much work has already gone into these, but we have to be realistic about what we can do with our reduced capacity.”
A shorter collection of events from the original programme including theatre, music, and participatory art projects will take place once restrictions on larger gatherings have been lifted. All events will be free.
“When this happens is very dependent on the developing situation and could be anytime between July and November,” said Cliona.
“We are very conscious of the HSE public health guidelines to be followed, and we want to plan something that can bring people together when it’s safe to do so.
“We are grateful to the Arts Council, as well as Clonmel Borough District and Tipperary County Council for standing with us and allowing us to go ahead with this contingency plan.”