Getting your fix of culture can be challenging during lockdown. That's why our British Counil Ireland team have decided to share some of the ways they've been engaging with, and experiencing, culture during lockdown.

Mags Walsh - Country Director

Visual Art

When news of the death of artist Christo broke, it was startling as it reminded me of the world of big, outdoor, public art. As our world has moved more inside and smaller so had my own horizons been limited. So, I lost myself it lots of videos of art by Christo, reminding myself that art can be big, shared, public and brilliant. Here’s a great video from Tate featuring Christo, taking about the barriers to making big work. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/christo-905/christo-everything-world-belongs-somebody

Science

It was only when I saw my neighbours peering into the sky from their balcony on Saturday evening that I remembered the SpaceX/NASA shuttle launch. I *think* I caught a glimpse of something in the sky, so was pleased to find a bit more about the launch afterwards online, like this short piece from The Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/spacex-and-nasa-successfully-launch-astronauts-into-orbit-1.4266834

Music

Control of Spotify choices in my house have become as hotly contested as Netflix choices. We’ve been on the look out for new music discoveries that make yet another family afternoon at home better. Delighted to have found Hackney Colliery Band this week. A new type of brass band to keep us all happy. https://www.hackneycollieryband.co.uk/  

Liz McBain - Senior Programme Manager

Nature suddenly seems more important to me than ever. When out walking my dog, it lifts the spirit to hear birds singing louder than before and trees in full bloom.  So you’ll not be surprised that I’ve been glued to the BBC’s Springwatch programme every evening.  And even if you can’t access the BBC, there’s lots of other great material on their site.  My pick of the week is a clip on basking sharks off the coast of Ireland with Springwatch presenter, Gillian Burke who we were lucky enough to have as one of our FameLab Ireland final judges a few weeks back.

Otherwise, I’ve been dipping in and out of some great virtual exhibits from around the world.  One of my favourites is ‘Faces of Frida’, a new exhibition on Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. As well as the artist’s works, you can delve into Frida’s fascinating life through personal letters and virtual tours around the places she lived and worked. And closer to home, CultureLab at the Ulster Museum, Belfast explores cultural stereotypes in a fun, interactive way. I’m 60% Catholic, 40% Protestant apparently! 

And my guilty pleasure of the past week or so was David Guetta’s New York fundraising concert - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-qnVT36868 Brilliant!

Aysylu Mutigullina - Programme and Partnerships Manager

I know a lot of people find it hard to concentrate while reading a book during the pandemic, but for me books provided a welcomed escape from the anxieties of the everyday for the past couple of months, each in their own way. So for all their help I dedicate this first “culture fix” to them! “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel became a great part of the evening routine, something to look forward to at the end of the day – and it says a lot about a historical novel, when you can’t wait to turn the page and find out whether or not Anne Boleyn becomes the queen (spoiler alert: she does for a bit!). Eimear McBride’s “Strange Hotel” was a totally different experience: a much shorter read, not as full of plot twists (not as full of plot full stop); it’s a hypnotising flow of consciousness, which was perfect to dive in and out on a Saturday. And whenever I went for a walk to clear my head, audiobook version of “The Gathering” by Anne Enright, was a great companion to share a journey with –because of both the intimate voice of the story and amazing Fiona Shaw, who narrated it.

Aoife Ward - Office and Project Administration

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that’s spoken to me since lockdown started that I’ve been consuming a lot of media in the past two and a half months. No TV show or movie are off limits and I’m thrilled to finally be working through my Letterboxd watchlist.

Aside from the opportunity this has given me to catch up on some of the great (and not so great) feature films I’ve missed over the past few years another great thing this has allowed is for me to fall back in love with short films. Whether it’s ‘Unsettling Scenes’ from first time writer/director Ren Buckman about the misfortune of being unable to forget your past self (which I watched like five times the first time I stumbled across it) or ‘the Neighbors’ Window’, which won the Oscar for best Live Action Short at last years Oscars, I’ve found that Youtube is a great way to access a lot of great Short Films.

When I’m not binge watching everything that comes up in my Youtube recommended section though I have to admit I’ve been missing the act of going out into the world to seek out culture a lot more than I thought. One way I’ve found to combat this though is with the help of the Irish Museum of Modern Art who allow you to Explore IMMA from Home through their collection, various online screenings, their weekly magazine and more.