The art of collaboration on full show at TAF 2023

Trinity Arts Festival volunteer Ciara Chan recounts the week’s highlights

It’s 11am on Monday, February 13 and mother nature has woken up in her usual dreary mood. The overcast sky and moisture in the air threaten rain that will never come and the chill in the air adds to the indecisive attitude that the weather has adopted — never being really cold or warm, never truly raining but never a dry day. In spite of all of that, tucked away on Pearse Street, a hidden gem that many a Trinity student wanders the street aimlessly in search of, Trinity Arts Workshop, is alive with students. 

In a fantastic start to the 2023 Trinity Arts Festival (TAF), following the commencement breakfast with the Cumann Gaelach, TAF collaborated with the Botanical Society in a paper flower workshop. Participants flooded in, filling the room to the point that a few were even relegated to a spot on the floor. Tissue paper and pipe cleaners in an array of colours, scissors and glue, and wires and tape were all utilised to create, for some a colourful decoration for their room, and for others an affordable and last minute Valentine’s Day gift. 

Later that night, the festival’s opening party, with its face paint, bright colours, and vibey music, kickstarted the week with an energy indicative of what was to come. Aptly placed in the vibrant Tara St. Building, balloons hung from the ceiling and lights danced across the floor to the musical serenades of Jazz Soc, the Lifts, the Lovely Good, and more.

As Ireland’s largest student-run festival, Trinity Arts Festival allows students to celebrate all forms of art. When we think of art, many times the first thing that comes to mind is painting, the tangible forms that are displayed in a museum. TAF, however, unites all art forms from crafts, photography and music, to dance, fashion and wine (because we all know getting to the perfect level of tipsy is a refined art). From creative workshops and daily TAF Talks to guerilla gigs and evening parties, Trinity Arts Festival truly encompassed it all. There was something for everyone and eager attendees were welcomed with open arms. In a jam-packed week with the collaboration of over twenty societies and a total of almost 50 events, the TAF committee really worked some magic this year. Each event offered a unique experience and allowed people from all walks of Trinity life to come together. 

For the arts students who needed inspiration and encouragement, the TAF Talks were perfect outlets for professional artists to share their experiences, successes and struggles. For the finance bro and STEM student who needed a break from their studies, workshops and guerilla gigs provided noncommittal, fun activities for their hour free of class. As TAF director Clare Cronin described it, “the festival is just a platform for all of the people involved to [get] to develop their creativity in some way, whether that’s by performing in front of an audience for the first time, or speaking about their life-long experience in a particular career path to inspire others, or even a non-arts based society dipping their toes into some arts and crafts of the sort.” 

Cronin described TAF Week as ‘a massive undertaking and kind of a terrifying prospect in the weeks leading up to it, but the payoff is 100% worth it.’

Each event had its own artistic perspective but the true art of the festival lay behind the scenes. Cronin described TAF Week as “a massive undertaking and kind of a terrifying prospect in the weeks leading up to it, but the payoff is 100% worth it.” She emphasised that “because of the scale of the festival and the limited time (and the fact that there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong), inevitably it can feel like things are last minute and unprepared in the moment” but the incredible tireless work of the committee and subcommittees truly make the festival come together. Cronin highlighted collaborations as integral to the core of what TAF is all about, and raves about the dedication of TAF members who worked hard at communicating with different societies and artists to organise their events. 

The week closed with a post-humanist themed party in Fegan’s 1924. The mesmerising atmosphere of the dimly lit café presented the perfect backdrop to close a fun-filled week of artsy activities. Although choices of the alcoholic variety were limited, the party created a transformative setting filled with friendly conversation, good music and the sighs of relief from many committee members. 

TAF 2023’s insane schedule — which resulted in a couple of unanticipated hiccups and last-minute fixes — required no small degree of artistry to pull off, yet was, overall, a huge success. It created a wonderful sense of community that allowed societies to come together and many budding artists to draw inspiration from each other. After all, what fosters creativity more than collaboration?