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Skanger Man – An Irish parody of a Werner Herzog film

At my monthly Brownbread Mixtape show I would regularly write radio style comedy sketches to be performed by myself and our resident sketch troupe The Brownbread Players (Gus McDonagh, Eva Bartley and Sean McDonagh). I have been a huge Werner Herzog fan for many moons and something tickled me about trying to do one of his earnest and odd documentary style pieces about inner city Dublin. Gus also did a great Dublin accent and so I wrote it specifically with him in mind for the part. It started to flow pretty quickly as I wrote it, but then something wasn’t fully clicking. Suddenly the Joycean elements popped in my head and it came together really sharpy then. The closing monologue lifted from The Dead by James Joyce really elevated the piece from pure silly parody to something slightly more profound, just like a proper Herzog piece. It was one of the most odd and surprisingly popular sketches we ever did. The original live version can be seen here.

Enda Roche who ran the monthly Brownbread Mixtape show with me was studying audio engineering at the time at Windmill Lane, and decided to do a studio version of it as a project one semester, and so the studio version above was born. The sparse twangy guitar lends a lovely feel to it (and echoes the Herzog film soundtrack to Grizzly Man very nicely), and the sound effects of the chipper give it a nice documentary feel.

The sketch subsequently got incorporated into my award nominated Fringe show The Definitive View with Sneachta Ni Mhurchu, and a slight rewrite made it slightly softer and more empathetic to the skanger character. It had never fully sat right with me that he was an object of pure ridicule of the piece, and in the new version I made him more a victim of the harsh Irish government and society. In that show we had an ethereal piano piece to accompany it, and I felt it lifted the piece even further into a poignant piece about the forgotten faces on our streets.

It is still a piece of writing I am very proud of and it really proved to me that even the most obscure reference points can prove to be hugely popular if framed in a comedic setting, as the audience doesn’t need to know who Herzog is in this case, but if they do, it adds an additional layer. Plus I love doing Werner Herzog impersonations. I think it’s my true artistic calling in life.

10 incredible songs you need to listen to right now

music

Every one of these songs is a masterclass in songwriting and performance. Every one of these songs strike me deep in the heart. Every time.  Some you may have heard, some you may not have heard. Every one of these songs deserves to be heard more often. Enjoy! – Kalle

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1. May You Never – John Martyn

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2. Jesus etc. – Wilco

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3. No Children – The Mountain Goats

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4. Dance All Night – Ryan Adams

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5. Nothing But The Same Old Story – Paul Brady

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6. Pink Moon – Nick Drake

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7. Living Room – David Gray

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8. Things Have Changed – Bob Dylan

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9. Lay Me Down – The Frames

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10. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

Modern Ireland – a short film

A few years ago my good friend, documentary filmmaker David Bagnall (Getting Out), was visiting from New York, so we met up with another friend and filmmaker, David O’Sullivan (Moore Street Masala), and headed out without a script, and decided to try and make a short film in a single day. There was such a freedom in just deciding to film and see where it landed us. We began with a simple prop (a suitcase) and a basic costume, and off we went. We shot it sequentially, so it revealed itself to us as a story throughout the day too. As we started to piece it together rapidly in the editing room, we found a silent movie of sorts that seemed to tell a tale about the Ireland we found ourselves in. So I dug out a piece of music I had recorded some time beforehand when I lived in New York (that was part of a different radio play / musical about a singer songwriter called Paschal Quigley). The song “Modern Ireland” seemed to fit nicely and the title was apt, so thats what it ended up being called. It’s a quirky short film with moments of real humour, and even slightly dark elements, but I have to say the finished product is something we were all really proud of. Let me know what you think.

 

10 of my absolutely favourite films – from the sublime to the ridiculous

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1.Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – John Hughes

You can keep your Citizen Kane and your Godfather; part of me reckons that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the greatest  film of all time. Some of that is attributable to growing up in an era when John Hughes released one great movie after another, each one as charming and wonderful as the last. Part of it is down to the fact that Ferris Bueller is the cool rebel I always wanted to be. And much of it is down to the fact that it was a film both my father and I shared a love for in equal measure, often swapping lines with glee and, after a long search through the channels, deciding to stick the well-worn Ferris Bueller video on. Most of all, it is a film that is genuinely funny with real emotional depth and holds up just as well in today’s light. It has it’s fair share of wildly enthusiastic fans (one fan recut the film as an indie coming-of-age film) and, without fail,  it always gets the single biggest roar and response in my “Things That Are Cool” poem. It is a film that that celebrates living in the moment. How could you not like a film like that?  “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

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2. Fitzcarraldo – Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog is a genius. Lets get that out of the way immediately. His cinematic output would put most filmmakers to shame with a range of remarkable dramatic pieces (Aguirre, the Wrath of God; The Enigma of Kaspar hauser) alongside spectacular documentaries (Grizzly Man; Lessons of Darkness). But perhaps his most famous film is Fitzcarraldo, fabled as much for its difficult production as for the remarkable end result. The making of the film is brilliantly chronicled in “Burden of Dreams” by Les Blank which serves as a terrific companion piece to Fitzcarraldo. The central role of the Irishman Fitzgerald, known as Fitzcarraldo in Peru, is played by longtime Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski (originally played by Jason Robards, with Mick Jagger as his sidekick), who has to pull a steamship over a steep hill in order to access a rich rubber territory and fulfill his dream of staging an opera on the other side. Herzog chose to actually pull a boat over a mountain and so the stuff of metaphors is born. Despite the troubled production, what remains is a stunning film that has yielded millions of fans around the world (including the brilliant Irish band The Frames, who named an album and song after the film). If you see only one Herzog film, then see this one, but you really should see them all. “I want to build an opera!”

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3. Withnail & I – Bruce Robinson

“Withnail & I” is a longheld cult favourite amongst students in Ireland and England, but is a somewhat unknown entity further afield. This is a great shame, as Withnail & I is one of the most hilarious films you’re ever likely to see. On the surface it is a story about two out-of-work actors at the tail end of the 60s, but beyond that it is a much richer story of broken dreams, friendship, lots of drinking, delusion, poverty and how one may never play ‘the Dane’. With an incredible soundtrack, brilliant comic dialogue, a meandering oddball story and Richard E. Grant’s superb central performance as Withnail, you will be hard pushed to find a film more bumper packed with memorable scenes and quotable lines. “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!”

 

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4. The Big Lebowski – Joel & Ethan Coen

The Coen brothers have made many, many masterpieces ( Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona,No Country For Old Men) but The Big Lebowski seems to have a particular, beloved cult status for anyone who has seen it. Myself included. But, in some ways, it is actually quite hard to place what is so wonderful about the film. Maybe it’s the central characters of The Dude and Walter  (portrayed in career best performances by Jeff Bridges and John Goodman) or perhaps the gang of brilliantly loopy supporting characters (esp. John Turturro as  Jesus Quintana),  or maybe it is the brilliantly chosen music that complements each scene or perhaps it is the wonderful, quirky dialogue which repeats and twists its way back around to different characters throughout the film. Or maybe its just because every time you watch it “new shit comes to light, man!”  Whatever the reason, it is a film that never fails to put a smile on your face. “The Dude abides.”

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5. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart – Sam Jones

Music documentaries are usually reserved for fans of the band in question, but this gorgeous black & white documentary about the difficult genesis of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco is a fascinating film for anyone interested in that age old battle between commerce and art. It helps that the album in question is one of the great records of the modern era and the band, Wilco, are one of the very best around (best kept secret and all that). Like all great documentaries it happened to be there at a critical time to capture a defining moment in the life of the subject and their environment. In retrospect it seems like a perfect snapshot of the beginning of the end of traditional record labels. The happy ending for the story is that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has gone on to be Wilco’s most successful record ever. If you haven’t listened to it, you’re as foolish as the record execs who ignored it. “You were right about the stars, each one is a setting sun”

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6. Wings of Desire – Wim Wenders

A film co-written by Austrian novelist Peter Handke and German filmmaker Wim Wenders about an angel in Berlin who longs to be mortal might sound like difficult, pretentious viewing. And for some, it might well be, but to me it is the most lyrical, beautiful film of them all. What if I told you Peter Falk and Nick Cave star as themselves and the cinematography is among the finest you will see? Still not convinced? Well, all I can say is that this is a film that resonates and reverberates inside long after you have seen it. It is in essence a layered, nuanced poem set to film (based loosely in part on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies) and manages to tackle profound truths about love, humanity, history, mortality and sense of place. The central poem by Handke, Das Lied vom Kindsein, is a masterpiece of writing in its own right and truly sings in harmony with the film overall and asks us to see the beauty of the world through pure innocent eyes. How we see, after all, is how we live. “When the child was a child, it didn’t know that it was a child, everything was soulful, and all souls were one”

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7.  Baraka – Ron Fricke

Baraka is an absolutely mesmerising film but extremely hard to classify. In essence it is a series of images from over 24 countries on 6 continents set to music (or using source music and audio) that paints an astonishing portrait of the planet we live on. Falling somewhere between a Planet Earth documentary and a National Geographic photo essay, it is a spellbinding and captivating look at the people and creatures we share this world with. Filmed in gorgeous 70m, long before handy digital cameras were the norm, it is a truly beautiful film that is as rewarding as it is thought provoking.

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8. Fight Club – David Fincher

Fight Club is a film that divides opinion somewhat and generally appeals more to men than women, but it really is worth a look. It’s a modern classic. Visually stunning, well-written, expertly directed, well acted and a pitch-perfect soundtrack (music nerds will be interested to know that Radiohead were one of the original choices for composing the soundtrack). The film even manages to improve upon the source material (a novel by Chuck Palahniuk) with inventive visual flourishes and dark, subtle humour. Once again, this is a film that rewards you upon repeated viewings as its many layers reveal themselves in different ways, even after finding out the game changing plot twist. I am Jack’s recommendation. I am Jack’s complete admiration for this film. “The first rule of fight club is, you do not talk about fight club”

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9. Waiting for Guffman – Christopher Guest

Christopher Guest has the honour of pretty much creating the genre of mockumentary with his collaborators on Spinal Tap. Since going up to 11 on that work of genius he has continued to create a new mockumentary slice of brilliance every few years of his own making. While “Best in Show” is probably more well known and absolutely hilarious, it is his precursor to that film, Waiting for Guffman, which is his true masterpiece: A film about a theatre director, Corky St. Clair, who wishes to stage a musical about the history of small town Blaine, Missouri. For anyone who has even had a cursory encounter with amateur drama it rings painfully true and features some absolutely inspired, deliberately painful musical sequences. It also features some truly hysterical, inane dialogue and the brilliant cast of improvisational actors are uniformly brilliant, with special praise reserved for Parker Posey who manages to bring incredible tenderness and unbelievable stupidity to her character. An underrated comedy classic that you have to see. “I just hate you and I hate your ass face”

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10. Point Break – Kathryn Bigelow

Point Break? Yeah, Point Break! As pure, dumb action movies ago, you’d be hard pushed to find many better ones. Keanu Reeves goes undercover to infiltrate a bunch of surfing, skydiving bank robbers you say? I’m already in and I am munching popcorn. Great cinematography, preposterous names like Bodhi and Johnny Utah, along with a collection of great character actors like Busey and Swayze makes for good old fashioned fun. Plus I am reliably informed by an NYU film school graduate, that the car and foot chase sequence (see above) is still taught as a masterclass in editing. And the director Kathryn Bigelow went on to win an Oscar for The Hurt Locker, if that stuff matters to you. Anyway, this film will make you want join the FBI, start surfing or make action movies. Or all three. Not many films can boast that. “I caught my first tube today, SIR!”

Sketchbook: The Table of Ideas

 

I was sifting through an old series of sketchbooks I kept during my time living in New York and found some fun old doodles, ideas and unfinished concepts. This one, The Table of Ideas, was one that I’m no longer sure what I was trying to do with. I know that it was inspired by some very dense philosophical writings I had encountered in college by two gents who went by Horkheimer and Adorno. However none of the actual substance of the book formed part of this idea, but really just the colour scheme of the book it looks like. See for yourself (the actual book is a bot more orange looking).

 

Then the idea must have evolved somehow to become a working idea for artlick, a website I ran for fun with my good friends Dave and Jenn (more on that some other time). The idea clearly never left the sketchbook stage, possibly because I have no idea what the ultimate goal was – maybe a section of the site was going to be called this, and would be a place to spark conversations and ideas? You have to remember the internet back in 1999 / 2000 was a pretty clunky slow place, so we may have jettisoned this idea purely because messageboards and virtual guestbooks were the main way of interacting with a website, and that was well beyond our primitive web skills.

At some point the idea seems to have been conflated with other ones and reverted back to being The Dialectic of Enlightenment, but now by some new authors Bo Henstergaard and Ulf Hammarsten. I think this was some reference to a Swedish radio documentary I had heard about hemp farmers (strange I know!), and I loved the names of the people being interviewed, so I mucked around with their names to make them sound even more unusual, and then clearly made them the new authors of this seminal philosophical tome. That must have tickled me for some reason

 

At this point the idea had clearly spiralled in on itself and become some weird set of personal references and touchpoints, that mean almost nothing to me now several years later. Still though, I think the central concept of being able to visit a Table of Ideas, whatever that may be, is a nice one. Worth revisiting maybe.

7 incredible songwriters with lyrics that are pure poetry and melodies that are mindblowing

In my mind, Bob Dylan is without an equal in the modern living songwriter stakes – he is our poet laureate and Shakespeare and oracle all wrapped into one. But there are several other lyrical and melodic masters that I adore that I would love to share with you. For some of you, these names are not new and for others only a handful may be familiar. Either way, all of them will hopefully resonate with you and open a new world or extend existing ones. I urge you to seek out more of their work and listen to it. There is nothing quite like the joy of discovering a fantastic new musician or poet and then realising that they have a huge body of work to dive into. Life is good to us sometimes!

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1. John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats)

The Mountain Goats are one of those best-kept-secret bands that are whispered about in hushed reverence by those who know about them. I am one such fan, but I want to shout about them. John Darnielle is one of the great living songwriters and each song brims with intelligence and humanity. He began his songwriting career by recording songs onto hissy tapes on a boombox and garnered a deserved cult following. In recent years he has released full studio albums (often incredibly realised concept albums) and enlisted the help of talented bandmates to produce glorious, gorgeous songs about the world we live in. Many of Darnielle’s songs manage to tell a compelling story with great characters, while swinging around a hooky melody and killer chord changes. All in 4 minutes. All delivered in his trademark, arresting singing voice. Yep. John Darnielle rules.

What album should I start with? Tallahassee

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2. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco)

When they put together those lists of the best bands and albums of all time, Wilco rarely show up on them. But anyone who knows their music and who has seen their live shows know that they might not be the most popular but they are the best. Jeff Tweedy writes songs with such invention, melody and emotion that you would be hard pushed to find many better living songwriters with such a volume of high quality songs. From the alt-country simplicity and beauty of a song like “Box Full Of Letters” to the brainbending oddity of “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart“, Tweedy has the capacity to wrap words around chords in a truly compelling and original way. History will remember him as one of the greats.

What album should I start with? Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

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3. Katell Keineg

I remember when I first heard Katell Keineg’s album “O Seasons O Castles” years ago and being struck by how exquisitely crafted it was, both musically and lyrically. And that voice. Oh my goodness. That voice elevated the entire experience to a near spiritual experience. Some time later I saw her in Whelans and that elegant songwriting seemed to extend to her magnetic presence on stage. Every single song was spellbinding and inspirational. Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in her songs. You will arise refreshed.

What album should I start with? O Seasons O Castles

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4. Ed Hamell (Hamell on Trial)

Ed Hamell is a one-man folk punk band with explosive songs that tell wild tales of working in upstate New York, delicate ballads about love, powerful political treatises and hilarious stories of a life well lived. To see him live is to witness a hurricane of profanity and sincerity wrapped up in lyrical complexity and cool chords. As a test of his own songwriting skills, he recently embarked on a project where he wrote a song a day for over 440 days! A great songwriter with songs that kick you hard, just as quickly as they tickle your funny bone and tackle your conscience. A true original

What album should I start with? Ed’s Not Dead: Hamell Comes Alive

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5. Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse)

Alas, Mark Linkous is no longer with us but he left a legacy of incredible layered, inventive songs. I first heard Sparklehorse open up for Radiohead on the OK Computer tour, but my brain wasn’t ready to hear the brilliance on offer. Years later I heard a friend play “Piano Fire” on an acoustic guitar and the stripped back simplicity of the song revealed the pure poetry of Mark Linkous’ songwriting. I immediately returned to my Sparklehorse albums and marveled at the potent production as much as the poetic lyrics. I dare you to listen and not find magic within the layers.

What album should I start with? It’s a Wonderful Life

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6. Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is probably one of the more well-known names on this list thanks to his songs “When The Stars Go Blue” and “New York, New York“, but he has a wealth of incredible, captivating songs that are equally worthy of your ears. (He also does an unbelievable cover version of Wonderwall by Oasis.) Adams is a prolific songwriter and has managed to amass a body of work that stands alongside the very best out there. For me it is his ability to bring both melancholy and sweetness in the twist of a word or bend of a note that mark him out as a really great songwriter. Lyrically strong, melodically masterful, consistently brilliant.

What album should I start with? Heartbreaker

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7. Dan Bern

Dan Bern is a songwriter in the mould of Dylan and Guthrie, but with his own anarchic, witty songwriting twist. His songs tackle topics from the ridiculous to the sublime and always with real heart. Again, he is best experienced in a live setting, but on record he brings his quirky sensibility to the studio and delivers one fine song after another. His trademark, humorous take on the world shines through best in his marvellous “Tiger Woods” song. Once you have heard it, you will never be quite the same. Dan Bern is a truly prolific songwriter with the ability to write children’s albums as easily as powerful socially conscious albums for an older generation. One of the good guys.

What album should I start with? Fifty Eggs

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7 stunning paintings you should see in person

First things first, I am not a painter. I am just a fan of painting and in this post I wanted to offer up seven remarkable paintings that have made a huge impression on me and have inspired huge amounts of my own creative output. Hopefully they will spark similar reactions for you. My father was a painter, so he undoubtedly influenced me a great deal in the choices below (as I was growing up he took me along to so many galleries to see these paintings in person) and I am indebted to him for seeing many of them. Today would have been his birthday, so it seems fitting to share this.

There are a dozen other extraordinary works that could have easily made this list but these were the ones that came to mind first. These reproductions, of course, only offer a glimpse of the brilliance of the original works themselves. If you can, I urge you to find them on your travels and soak up their mystery and genius. On with the art…

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1. Gas – Edward Hopper (1939)

I could pick any Edward Hopper painting and marvel at it for hours. I love them in the same way I love Raymond Carver stories. Each one of them a lonely, cinematic, beautiful slice of America. They are so sparse & profound with a wonderful underlying drama in each painting. Perhaps more than any other painter, it is his ability to capture the way light falls that is so compelling. In this painting I love the falling evening light above the treeline compared to the banks of light from the white building that run out across the courtyard. And the man at the pump is one of those classic Hopper figures that I love, who seems to throw up as many questions as he answers. Ultimately, Edward Hopper will probably never be the most popular painter of all time, but to me he is undoubtedly one of the greatest.

Can be seen at : Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

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2.Böhmen liegt am Meer – Anselm Kiefer (1996)

No reproduction can truly do justice to the stark emotional pull of Anselm Kiefer’s painting. It hangs alone on a wall in the mezzanine of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and dares you to look at it. It is a big, stark, imposing painting with the title “Böhmen liegt am Meer” (Bohemia lies by the sea) written plainly across the dirty horizon on the canvas. The writer in me loves that mixing of the two artforms and the simple poetry of it.

No matter how often I see it, I can’t get over how roughly and coarsely it is painted in big dollops of thick oil paint, with sections of the raw canvas peeking through in other parts. And those splashes of poppies across the burnt out landscape are so subtle and brilliant. Pure emotion. It is a painting that I will never see enough times. My dad adored it so much that we sprinkled a few of his ashes in front of it after he passed away.

Can be seen at : Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

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3. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump – Joseph Wright of Derby (1768)

I still remember seeing this bizarre candlelit scene for the first time and almost being hypnotised by it. I still wonder what made Wright-of-Derby choose this particular scene to paint above all others? Apart from the way he conjures light so beautifully in such a modern cinematic way, it is the chilling main character staring directly at me (as if he is willing a reaction) who remains the most compelling part of the painting for me. There is also something particularly ominous about that moon being revealed from behind the clouds in the window on the right. A masterpiece of painting.

Can be seen at : National Gallery, London, England

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4.Bed – Robert Rauschenberg (1955)

I absolutely love the fact that Robert Rauschenberg brazenly sticks objects to his canvas, paints on household artifacts and simply creates these mish-mash constructions of art and everyday objects. It makes sense to me.

This installation/painting “Bed” is so striking. I still can’t get over how simultaneously colourful and grimy it is, while at the same time coming across as really funny and perhaps not really taking itself too seriously. Maybe none of that is true, but it always resonates with me as a really great piece of work that inspires me every time I see it.

Can be seen at : Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

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5. Untitled – Jackson Pollock (1948)

I have to admit I didn’t really get Jackson Pollock until I saw his paintings on a wall in front of me. Part of it is the sheer scale of some of the works which doesn’t translate well in reproductions. It’s such a different experience standing in front of these enormous canvases with thick swirling drips of paint that dance across the canvas so beautifully. The other thing is how surprisingly emotional the paintings are. Pollock went through loads of phases but this “Jack the Dripper” phase, which is his most well-known style, will always be my absolute favourite. This untitled painting from the Met manages to be not overly cluttered like some of his other pieces and I am really fond of the simplicity of the red and black on a big raw open canvas. Overload of Pollocks. Yes please.

Can be seen at : Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

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6. The Taking of Christ – Caravaggio (ca.1602)

Caravaggio’s breathtaking painting hangs in the National Gallery in Dublin and it is a painting that never fails to astonish me (It also has a curious history). It is impossible to not be bowled over by the incredible painterly skill and ability on display.  The composition of the scene and its balance of light & darkness, as well as the little details in Jesus Christ’s body language as he accepts his fate with such resignation are more impressive with each viewing. Apparently there are only about 80 of Caravaggio’s paintings in the world which makes this one an even rarer treat every time I see it. Stunning.

Can be seen at : National Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

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7. Pie Counter – Wayne Thiebaud (1963) 

Wayne Thiebaud was one of those painters I had never heard of until a few years ago when myself and my dad went to see a retrospective of his work in the Whitney in New York. I was absolutely knocked out by his paintings. To see a painter’s extended body of work like that was wildly inspiring, as I really got to see the different phases and creative processes that happened along the way. I was drawn instantly to “Pie Counter” because it appealed to my jokey sensibility but at the same time I loved the bigger statement it was making about consumption and mass production in America. Thiebaud later went on to paint remarkable, colourful, brainbending landscape style canvases that would equally belong in a list like this but for now I will enjoy these slices of pie thank you very much.

Can be seen at : Whitney Museum, New York City, USA

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Performance Poetry in Ireland – A Gentle Radio Documentary

Back in 2014, the poet Dave Lordan, was serving as guest editor for Penduline Press – a publication from Oregon in the United States. He commissioned a special audio broadcast from me to showcase some of the very best contemporary performance poets in Ireland. I had never really tried something like it before but I was really excited about trying to piece something that was representative of the many great voices in Ireland at the time, as well as making it an audio piece that was enjoyable to listen to, maybe even informative, and maintain a good energy and rhythm to it, so it actually flowed like a proper album. There was also something nice about taking the time to go back through the archives of the endless hours of audio from all of the many poets at the brownbread mixtape shows, and handpicking some of the standout moments. (I was even cheeky enough to put one of my own poems in there from the Fringe show “Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About”. More on that show and the unique creative process of writing a show collaboratively in this post.) The curation process was really hard and ended up being super subjective of course (but isn’t all curated content?) and I decided to not script my interludes, but instead to speak from the heart about how these poets and their work had connected with me. That conversational tone felt right for the piece and it flowed relatively well. Then once I found the haunting simple piano piece by Irish musician Elder Roche, it all seemed to click into place. The end result was something I am really proud of and I totally stand over today. I actually think it serves as a nice snapshot of the variety of spoken word in the country at that time. And it is a proper document now. Many of the poets have deservedly gone on to greater success as performers and published writers, which is so brilliant to see. They are listed below. Seek them out, they are all legends.


Here’s what Dave Lordan said about the documentary at the time:

“[the brownbread mixtape] is a very professionally run cabaret and it has featured many of the most engaging and entertaining live arts practitioners in the country. Kalle is an excellent host and curator, a fact proven by the popularity of the monthly event. Everybody wants a gig at The Brownbread Mixtape. [ … ] Kalle probably has the closest to an overview of performance poetry in Ireland and he was the obvious choice to make a showcase selection for Penduline.” – Dave Lordan, Guest Editor, Penduline

Here is a list of the poets in order of appearance:

1. Stephen James Smith – “The Gardener”
2. John Cummins – “Brink”
3. Abby Oliveira – “the television”
4. Karl Parkinson – “The Positivity Manifesto”
5. Raven – “High John”
6. Erin Fornoff – “Hymn to the Reckless”
7. Brian Conaghan – “Waiting for the penny to drop”
8. Colm Keegan – “Ireland Is”
9. Fergus Costello – “Extract from a letter to the fella that used to be married to my sister”
10. Kalle Ryan – Excerpt from “Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About”

Here is the original link to the publication in Penduline Press:

Penduline Irish Performance Poetry Showcase

Seven photos of New Yorkers at the intersection between Nassau Street and Ann Street

On June 24th 2007 I was waiting for my wife outside a shop at the corner of Ann Street and Nassau Street in downtown Manhattan in New York City. I bent down to tie my shoelaces and suddenly saw the bustling New York street from an unusual perspective. So, I decided to take a few photos of the New Yorkers as they walked by. What resulted was a selection of weird and wonderful portraits of the different personalities that stroll along in that part of the city. The photos below are completely unedited and exactly as I took them on the day. I don’t wish to infringe upon anyone’s privacy, so if you know someone in these photos, or , if indeed you are in the photo yourself, please let me know and I can take the photo down. To me they are  fascinating document of the people and the city of New York and I hope you enjoy them in the same spirit.

 

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The Lonely Track – short film

One of my favourite Irish musicians is Pearse McGloughlin. His ear for melody is remarkable, and his ability to wind lyrical tapestries around them is a thing to marvel. A few years ago in advance of his second album “In Movement” being released, he commissioned a series of short 60-90 second films to accompany excerpts of songs from the forthcoming record. I was lucky enough to be asked to make one. Having never made a film, but with a deep love for the artform, I gave it a shot. I chose his song “The Lonely Track”, which was deeply atmospheric and really appealed to the storyteller in me. It is a dark and compelling tale which has, to my mind, more than a hint of Bob Dylan’s Isis from the Desire album. I shot a series of sequences on a visit to New York City and I felt that the sensation of motion & advancement was critical to the feel of the music. It was a journey that had darkness and foreboding within it, but at the end of it was the dreamlike hope that a better day was ahead. And so the film above is what turned out. It’s a bit abstract I suppose, but I really like how it turned out. And it was such a great creative task to lean on some other great art as a scaffolding to build upon, especially when I had no real sense of how to make a film. And if you haven’t listened to Pearse McGloughlin and Nocturnes music, I cannot recommend them more highly.