A round-up of Culture Night 2021 in Dublin

Ella-Bleu Kiely reflects on Dublin’s most magical Culture Night yet

Culture Night Dublin made its return on Friday, September 17 with a colourful bang, including over 200 participating venues and more than 250 in-person and online events for audiences to enjoy across the county. As what could be called the godmother of our very own Trinity Arts Festival, Culture Night equally sparked diversity and creativity in Dublin City.

The live circus came to town as the Ariel Circus Cabaret took to the air. The aerial performance group is dedicated to building communities through the provision of high-quality circus arts education and performance opportunities. Based out of their full-time facility in Phibsborough, they are open to collaboration with local, regional, national, and international organisations wanting to empower and enable individuals and communities through circus.

“Curators of the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale went online for a live conversation and film”

From aerial to architecture, curators of the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale went online for a live conversation and film entitled States of Entanglement: Data in the Iris landscape at the Venice Architect Biennale. They discussed the concept behind their Entanglement installation and showed footage from the Irish Pavilion in Venice. The Irish Pavilion brought the physicality of data infrastructure to the forefront with Entanglement, an exhibit addressing the environmental, cultural and human impact of data.

On the arts and crafts front, there was a pleasant mixture of events using different mediums. At the Chester Beatty in Dublin Castle, curator Dr. Mary Redfern led a Curator’s Tour of Edo in Colour: Fashion, Gender and Fortune. Featured in this event were Japanese woodblock prints, which combine sophisticated artistry with colourful tales of life in urban Edo (modern Tokyo). In this special tour for Culture Night, Redfern introduced a host of prints newly displayed in the museum’s Edo in Colour exhibition.

“Inspired by Louis MacNeice’s poem Dublin, they each completed a live mural on the Icon Walk at Bedford Lane from 4pm until sundown.”

Icon Factory artist and volunteer Kevin Bohan, and fellow artist Iljin, were commissioned as part of Culture Night’s Dublin Holds My Mind programme 2021. Inspired by Louis MacNeice’s poem Dublin, they each completed a live mural on the Icon Walk at Bedford Lane from 4pm until sundown. There was also an official Icon Walk guided tour on Culture Night. The Icon Walk open-air art installation revitalised a previously neglected patch of Temple Bar. Staying on the artsy theme, a camera-less experimental photography workshop was given at The Darkroom. The workshop called to those who want to get creative, experiment, and play using photography materials and darkroom techniques.

The Irish National Youth Ballet (INYB) performed to an online audience. INYB is the premier youth ballet company in Ireland, featuring dancers aged 10-20. The performance took place in the beautiful and atmospheric Shawbrook Forest stage, an outdoor space in a dance centre in the Irish Midlands. It was a mixture of both the classical repertoire and neo-classical choreography. Bollywood Ireland also gave a performance live at the Wood Quay Amphitheatre.

Organised by the Irish Label Archive, the Slow Fashion in the City walking tour covered three of the city’s independent vintage shops — Iveagh, Dandelion and Liberty — while stories of the markets and shops of past eras were told. These markets will be familiar to generations of Dubliners who bought & sold antiques, bric a brac & second hand clothing; for some it was a hobby, for others a livelihood. On the matter of Dublin’s markets, Books Upstairs (one of Trinity’s locals) had a late night opening for passers.

“Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr gave free Irish language classes for anyone interested in enriching your skills in the language or just to learn a few words.”

Ar ndóigh, an Ghaeilge. Coláiste na hÉireann/Gaelchultúr gave free Irish language classes for anyone interested in enriching your skills in the language or just to learn a few words. A céilí kicked off in club Chonradh na Gaeilge on Harcourt Street full of ceol agus craic.

Across the generations, Irish LGBTQ+ people have emigrated to find opportunities to live and love openly. Yet this journey was rarely a simple transition from an oppressive island to a liberal wider world. Unfortunately, Irish LGBTQ+ emigrants often faced the same prejudice abroad which they had hoped to leave behind. The Irish Emigration Museum displayed an exhibit titled Out in the World: Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Diaspora. It highlighted twelve stories from the vast yet largely untold history of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ diaspora across six themes – exclusion, community, love, defiance, solidarity, and return.

Close to home, the Trinity Geological Museum told Culture Night’s audience The Story of the Earth. This bursting exhibition highlighted the geological evolution of the planet with displays of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Online, the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) invited you to attend an informative talk on earthquakes — the geophysics department of DIAS has maintained the Irish National Seismic Network since 2018, and discussed the past and present methods of monitoring live earthquakes worldwide on Culture Night.

Of course, you can’t have Culture Night without poetry. In the tradition of soapbox orators who’ve raised their voices on busy street corners throughout history, Poetry Ireland’s Poetry Soapbox performers popped up in various locations around Dublin 1 on Culture Night as part of their Poetry Town festivities. There were poems of hope, loss, love, despair and witness performed around the city center.

Comhar and An tOireachtas launched a bumper edition of Comhar magazine in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. This special edition presented a literary response to environmental challenges, biodiversity, and the natural world. Special guests at the launch included Culture Night Dublin Ambassador, Ola Majekodunmi, and the musician Inni-K, along with writers, contributors and supporters of the magazine.

Culture Night Dublin definitely gives off a Halloween buzz about the city, just with much more content. It truly is the night where every form of culture in Ireland is celebrated. Merrion Square all lit up and lively — exactly as the great Oscar Wilde would have wanted.

Ella-Bleu Kiely

Ella-Bleu Kiely is the current Societies Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister Classics and English Literature student.