Smashing Times January Newsletter: Rebirth and Renewal

Welcome to the first Smashing Times Newsletter of 2024. Our theme this January is ‘Rebirth and Renewal’, tying in with the New Year.

More than any other fixture on the calendar, the New Year is seen as offering a chance for a fresh start and renewed commitment. In winter’s chilly depths, we offer up pledges to ourselves with a view to the betterment of our lives, be that emotionally, socially, physically, or otherwise. We realign ourselves with the values and goals we hold dearest, while working towards them in new and reinvigorating ways. The latter part is essential: the longevity and vitality of our lives hinge on our capacity for imaginative reinvention; very few of us exist on a consistently linear even keel, unrocked by change, challenge, loss, or hardship.

Interestingly, we assign ourselves these resolutions half-believing that we will fail. But we do it anyway – content, perhaps, to ‘fail better’, in the words of Samuel Beckett. To fall short, but still make ground. Maybe New Year’s resolutions should be viewed as Leonardo da Vinci viewed art: ‘never finished, only abandoned’. And no matter – there is a completion of sorts to the incomplete: it is flawed and human, vulnerable and endearing, more relatable and true to life than its overwhelming, faultless, god-like sibling.

So let us fail, and let us learn, and grow, and gain, and fail better again.

Read on for artworks from Featured Artist Sinéad O’Loughlin, as well as from artists Wole-Taiwo Olamide, Beth Storey, Saint Levant, Ava Patel, Christian Kunnert, and Dylan Thomas. Also included are Grants and Opportunities, 10 We Admire, news, and more.

A word to all who submitted to this month’s edition: thank you very much for thinking of us; we had a record number of submissions this month so competition for places was extremely tight. If we couldn’t find room for your work this time, please don’t let this dissuade you from submitting to future editions (we hope you do!)


‘And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.’
         – Rainer Maria Rilke

‘A fine artist is one who makes familiar things new and new things familiar.’
         – Louis Nizer

‘The beginning is always today.’
         – Mary Shelley


The painting The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli portrays the goddess Venus arriving at the shore after her birth. She stands pale and naked on a giant sea shell, her hair long and red. Behind her is the sea; to the left of Venus as we view her are two flying Gods of wind blowing her to shore; to the right, on the shore, a woman waits for her with a cloak.
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus, painted by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli in the mid 1480s, captivates with its ethereal beauty, harmonious composition, and mythological topic. The Roman goddess Venus emerges from the sea, symbolising love and rebirth. Located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, this late Renaissance piece depicts a traditional scene from Greek mythology; its appeal is sensory and accessible, hence its enormous popularity.
‘El lugar correcto’ by Natalia Lafourcade
The song ‘El lugar correcto’ (The right place’) by Mexican activist Natalia Lafourcade deals with the topic of self-love and the breaking of toxic patterns for the purpose of a personal rebirth. Click on the play button above to listen to this song.
In this black and white illustration, a giant insect lies belly up on a single bed in a small bedroom.
Image: Sarthak Pal
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis delves into the surreal as Gregor Samsa wakes up transformed into a giant insect. This novella explores the alienation and absurdity of modern life, offering a reflection on identity and societal expectations. Purchase this book here.

Art Inspires

A brightly lit headshot of film-maker and writer Sinéad O'Loughlin
Featured Artist: Sinéad O’Loughlin

Our Featured Artist this month is Sinéad O’Loughlin. Sinéad is an award-winning Irish film-maker based in Cork. She began her career in theatre and has written and directed for both theatre and radio. Always wanting to pursue her passion for film and television, her first short film ‘Homecoming’ was an adaptation of her one-act stage play and she has continued to work in film since. Thematically, her work draws heavily on her rural background and explores stories and characters in contemporary rural Ireland.

Sinéad’s most recent short film, ‘Lamb’ (2022), was awarded funding by Screen Ireland’s Focus Short scheme for up-and-coming creative screen talent. Starring Aoife Duffin (Moone BoyResistance) and Éanna Hardwicke (The Sixth CommandmentNormal People), ‘Lamb’ tells the story of how an ordinary day takes a turn for the worst when a stranger walks into a woman’s home. ‘Lamb’ premiered at Tribeca, was nominated for Best Live Action Short in the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards, and was Oscar qualified. It has won 15 national and international awards.

Previously, her short film ‘Stray’ (2019), starring Tony Award-winning actress Marie Mullen, screened nationally and internationally, and was nominated for Best in Cork at Cork International Film Festival. In 2023 O’Loughlin co-directed ‘Misread’ (written by Aisling Byrne), an RTÉ/Ardán commissioned short film about the strained relationship between a young man with Down’s syndrome and his brother. O’Loughlin is currently in development with her first feature Vocation with Copper Alley Productions, funded by Screen Ireland; she is also working with Wildcat Pictures on a TV project. Click here for her website, here for her Instagram, and here for her Twitter/X.
A misty field with a man walking in the distance and the title of the short film, 'Homecoming', in the bottom right-hand corner. There is also a play button to watch the film
But for our featured artwork this month, we are going backwards in time to Sinéad’s debut short film. In the award-winning ‘Homecoming’ (2016), starring David Greene and Johanna O’Brien, Mick has found himself stuck in a rut. While the rest of his friends have emigrated to Australia for the foreseeable future, Mick has returned and is reluctantly helping his father run the family farm. When he crosses paths with Aoife, his past feelings are rekindled and his hopes for the future are renewed. Time has passed, their lives have gone separate ways, but when they meet they are still rooted to each other by place and past, good memories and bad.

Executed with a realist precision reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma or Colm Bairéad’s An Cailín Ciúin, this poignant short film offers a universal snapshot of the impact of austerity, combined with a look at how everyday life presents opportunities for renewal and reconnecting with ourselves.

‘Homecoming’ screened at over 40 national and international film festivals and won six awards. Click on the play button above to watch this short film.

Written and directed by Sinéad O’Loughlin. Director of Photography & Editor: Dan Keane. Producer: Laura Brennan. Funded by a Strategic Project Grant from Wicklow County Arts Office.
A woman holding what could be bridal flowers stands before a large window through which the blue sky, moon, and black roses are visible
Homeless Haven by Wole-Taiwo, Olamide

Acrylic on canvas. 28 x 36 in

Homeless Haven by Wole-Taiwo, Olamide depicts how rebirth and renewal can be rooted in different perspectives. As the artist herself explains, ‘The dark roses represent personal growth and transformation. We also embark on a journey of self-discovery which is rooted in the shadow self. The moment we accept the other side of us, rebirth has commenced.’

Artist, linguist, and writer Wole-Taiwo, Olamide was born in Badagry, Nigeria. Her desire is to address an old Africa in order to create a refined, revamped, and rebirthed Africa in the heart of the audience. Click here to visit her Instagram profile.
The writer Beth Storey, smiling in a black dress, stands in front of an exposed-brick wall
‘A New Week’ by Beth Storey
After heavy rain, in deep purple evening, she walks around the city because there’s little else to do. The tarmac shines. Tomorrow, she says, I’ll do better tomorrow, I’ll live properly, I’ll see colours more brightly and I’ll really taste my food.
     She takes a bus out of the city to watch the planes land. Years ago, in America as the season turned, hours of travel lying either side of her, she loved clapboard houses and diners with good breakfast food. She made few friends, though; she couldn’t hold a conversation; she was always talking about Ireland and it got in the way. She returned very deliberately and expected the shudder and bump of landing to feel better than it did.
     On Thursday mornings, as a rule, she visits the National Gallery. She stands in front of The Meeting on the Turret Stairs for an hour. Weekly, she reminds herself of the first time she saw it, projected on the whiteboard in school: the image blurry at first then sharpening, quickly, like somebody straightening upon hearing their name called. Weekly, she thinks, I must get back there again, to when the pinafore scratched my legs and my navy shoes were well polished, and I knew there would be apple slices to eat after the long school day. Weekly, she sees herself doubly in the painting, Hellelil the person she wants to be, Hildebrand the person she is, they are intimately familiar yet they pass, every time, on the stairs.
     Outside a steak house with a good reputation, a server leans tiredly against a wall, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. She stops and asks for a light. She’s never smoked, but for years she’s kept a pack of cigarettes in her bag in case she needs to talk to somebody, or somebody needs to talk to her. She shares the wall with him for a short while because the winter sky is pale blue and nice to look at. A few minutes pass, he’s gone, and she’s unsure the interaction happened at all.
     South of the river, amid swarming gulls, she runs into somebody from years ago. He tells her he has a rock collection now, and when he says, it’s incredible, the rock never forgets what formed it, they both understand what he means. There’s a coffee stain on the collar of her shirt, she points to it, please, she says, don’t think less of me for this. When you tell this story, she begs, just give me perfect skin, just don’t make me sound stupid. He nods seriously and agrees, that’s all any of us want.
     She sits in a pub she doesn’t know and considers for a long time the weight of the glass in her hand. She lifts the pint, sets it down. They haven’t given her a coaster and the guilt she feels about the condensation marking the wood overwhelms her. In the usual way, she leaves. In the usual way, she comes back. She has very little, so she looks at the paint on the wall and imagines it has something to do with her. 
     One black evening on Abbey Street, a man walks too closely behind her and offers to carry her bags. Later, in thin pyjamas, she stands for several hours on a kerb and watches passing cars. She doesn’t go inside to bed until she sees a car driving in the night with a man at the wheel and a woman sleeping next to him in the passenger seat. She’s out very late with it, but it’s the only way she gets any rest.
     In a dim confession box, she whispers, Father, I haven’t slept through the night in years, I lie awake while my hair turns white, she whispers, Father, I’m worried I’m a terrible person. She talks to him for forty minutes. She says, I never call my father first, he rings me, I always hesitate to answer. She says, sometimes, the sun comes through the bus window and changes everything, but when the light moves I forget the feeling, I’m guilty of it every time. She says, I pass the homeless on O’Connell Bridge, they’re asking spare change, spare change, and too often I pretend not to see them, I don’t have it in me to say hello. She says, once, I saw a dog barking at the Luas and I wanted to join in, I didn’t even think, I threw my phone at the wide rushing window and I loved the sound the impact made. The priest is deaf in his left ear and doesn’t hear a word she says.
     Once, she bought strawberries from a fruit seller on Moore Street, who wrapped them carefully in brown paper and said, enjoy them, love, they’re magic. She hasn’t been so happy since. Today, she would buy a punnet from the same stall, but the memory is loadbearing and if the fruit seller has a worse sort of disposition because of the rain and the early hour, she won’t be able to come back from it. She’s always craving strawberries. She can’t ever have one.
     Christy Moore is on the radio. Mystic Lipstick fills the room, and the room disappears. Instead, Electric Picnic, nearly a decade gone, emerges all around her. Stradbally is baking in a rare heat, but with night falls rain, bringing a cool, touched relief. Her hot, sunburned shoulders are wet with rain when she goes to a bar and asks urgently for the pint her mother used to lift. The barman tells her they’ve no drink. We deal in swaps here, he tells her, I’ll give you something for something anytime, it’s more than you can say for most places, but if you have to ask, I’ll never be able to tell you the point. She picks a plastic cup from the flattened grass and he offers her the head of a streetlight in return. She laughs at him, but he’s serious, he holds a lighter to the bulb to make like it’s glowing. Just look at the light till you see it on your eyelids, he says, for the rest of your life, all you need do is look up from the street, you’ll be right back here with me. When you’re seventy, he says, leaning closer, they’re nearly touching, you’ve only to look up, you’ll back in this field in Laois, in the heat, in the rain, with me.
     The night Sinéad O’Connor dies, Beckett bridge is lit with her words; a nice gesture but a cheap substitution. She sees two children in balaclavas fighting each other and knows tomorrow she will hear about violence in the north inner city. Sinéad O’Connor would have done something, but she’s no Sinéad and fear and shyness occupy more of her than she likes to admit. Still, she stands some distance from the children and watches the fight play out bloodily, if only for the chance they see her watching and know she’s interested in what happens to them tonight.
     Walking down the street, she passes a woman wearing a pair of jeans she owns. She wants to stop and say it to her, to bridge the gap between them in a way, to feel intimacy of some kind before she dies, but not everything means something and there’s a chance that the jeans are only similar and not exactly the same. So, they each pass the other and nothing is said, but she thinks about the woman for the rest of the day and hopes she likes the shape her legs take in the jeans.
     After heavy rain, in deep purple evening, she walks around the city because there’s little else to do. The tarmac shines. Tomorrow, she says, I’ll do better tomorrow, I’ll live properly, I’ll see colours more brightly and I’ll really taste my food.

Beth Storey is an Irish writer based in Dublin. Her work has been published so far in journals including Trasna, The Martello, New Word Order, Sans. Press’ The Archive, and An Áitiúil.
‘CAGED BIRDS SING’ by Saint Levant

‘CAGED BIRDS SING’ is a 2022 single from trilingual rapper-singer Saint Levant. Scene Noise describe the song as ‘an impressive display of penmanship, songwriting, and sonic vision’. Referencing Maya Angelou’s famous autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the trap and rock-infused record channels themes of political and inner conflict, laying out a vision for a meaningful personal reinvention. Complemented by characteristically strong production, the track culminates in a gloriously lush and multilayered outro. Click on the play button above to listen to this song. Cover art is Freedom (2016) by Palestinian visual artist Malak Mattar.
Saint Levant, born Marwan Abdelhamid, is a Palestinian/French/Algerian/Serbian artist based in California. Born in Jerusalem during the second Intifada, he grew up in the Gaza Strip, before he and his family were forced to flee to Jordan following the outbreak of a civil war in Gaza. Click here for his website and here for his Instagram profile.
Poet Ava Patel stands smiling, holding what could be a Calzone. She wears a beige coat; in the background is a grass verge and a statue, while farther away is a large, old grey building.
‘The Wash’ by Ava Patel

My wrists have paled, have paddled out alone.

They are succinct and ghoulish;
they are weary and braceleted with lines and tissue.

A cavern yawns, the wrists spit.

We have plaited beings out of the sheer gloss of my hair—
the strands crossing over and under each other,
your fingers tight around them, coaxing life from their black fibres.

You have knitted me fresh eyes and a woollen smile;
my wrists attack the loose bits of yarn like a cat deep within a seizure.

The oars or arms, the things, those things, were timid
but now I am my wrists—luminous against your face.
London-based poet Ava Patel won Prole Magazine’s 2021 pamphlet competition with her debut pamphlet ‘Dusk in Bloom’. She’s been published in webzines (London Grip; Ink, Sweat and Tears; Atrium; Porridge) and magazines (South Bank Poetry; Orbis; SOUTH; Dream Catcher; New Welsh Reader, The Seventh Quarry, DREICH).
An abstract painting composed of pinks, reds, light blues, and greens, with the semblance of a human shape at the centre
You’ve got to loosen the grip to keep moving by Christian Kunnert

Acrylic and oil stick on canvas. 150 x 120 cm

In this painting by Christian Kunnert, the central element of the abstracted human shape symbolises the constraints that hold us back in life. The work explores notions of freedom, growth, self-discovery, and the desire to break free from imposed limitations. 

As Christian himself states, ‘The idea that growth and personal development require a constant process of shedding old selves is central to what concerns me now. As days and seasons pass, my understanding grows that a state of confinement and limitation can be unlocked through a desire for change and the curiosity and potential that the “new” can present as it unfolds and reveals itself.’
Christian Kunnert is a professional visual communications designer, of German and Romanian heritage, living and practising on the southwest coast of Ireland for many years. He is primarily an expressionist-style artist working in acrylics and oils in large formats. Visit his website here and his Instagram profile here.
A black-and-white photo of a young Dylan Thomas wearing a dark woollen sweater vest and staring at the camera with an ambiguously blank expression.
‘And death shall have no dominion’ by Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) was a world-renowned poet and writer from Wales, known chiefly for his poems ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, ‘Fern Hill’, and his play for voices, ‘Milk Wood’. Having acquired a reputation, which he encouraged, as a ‘roistering, drunken and doomed poet’, he struggled with alcoholism and died in New York in 1953, at the early age of 39.

Smashing Times News

Red, black, and grey logo of Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Human Rights, against a white background.
Staff News

Smashing Times have had a number of staff changes this New Year. Niamh Clowry, Administrative Coordinator, has gone on maternity leave. We would like to offer a huge congratulations to Niamh and her partner Padraig Murphy on the birth of their second daughter Georgie. In the meantime, we are thrilled to welcome aboard Carmen Ortiz Victorino.

Carmen is an artist, theatre-maker, director, actress, playwright, and stage manager from Sevilla, Spain. She studied drama in ESAD de Sevilla and screen acting in Laboratorio de Interpretation de Sevilla. She has worked with different communities around Ireland doing drama workshops and directing or assisting different plays, such as King Lear, Hamlet, and The Heights. She has also participated in a wide range of international projects, including Mouth Off (Spain) and You Mix It (Sweden).

Meanwhile, Veronica Leaney has retired from Smashing Times after six and a half years as Financial Manager. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Veronica for her service and the expertise she brought to the organisation. We are pleased to welcome aboard Sandra Berger in filling Veronica’s position.

Sandra Berger is a strategy and performance management consultant with over nine years’ experience in management consulting and finance. Sandra has worked on assignments with several high-potential start-ups as well as large corporations globally, such as Accenture and Credit Suisse. She is passionate about working with individuals and corporations to achieve new levels of success, helping them to sharpen and focus their vision as well as providing them with the right strategy to realise and exceed their goals. Sandra is an Oxford graduate, a member of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants, and holds a Bachelor (Hons) in Finance and Accounting from Dublin Business School.
A maroon graphic displaying the text 10 We Admire in white.

10 We Admire

Welcome to this month’s 10 We Admire, where we list ten artists whose work reflects the theme of Rebirth and Renewal’ in myriad original ways.
Siting against a mustard background is the author Toni Morrison, dressed in black, her hair in dreadlocks
Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, one of the most acclaimed authors of the later 20th century, left an indelible mark on literature and culture. Born in 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison faced early adversity when her family’s house was set ablaze by their landlord because her parents could not afford to pay rent. After that, she immersed herself in education, excelling in her studies and becoming an avid reader.

Her journey led her to Howard University in 1949, where Morrison navigated racial segregation, explored her theatrical skills, and forged connections that shaped her future. After earning a master’s degree from Cornell University, she began her career in academia, teaching at Howard University.

Morrison’s publishing career began at Random House, where she eventually transitioned to editing fiction by African-American authors. It wasn’t until she was 39 that she published her first novel, The Bluest Eye. Subsequent works, including Song of Solomon and Beloved (a novel that uses the symbol of water to express rebirth), garnered critical acclaim and prestigious awards, solidifying Morrison’s status as a literary icon. Morrison passed away in August 2019, leaving behind a profound literary legacy.
Rosalía, wearing a black dress, her dark hair parted at the centre, stands smiling.

Rosalía Vila Tobella, known as Rosalía, is a Spanish musician, singer, producer, actress, and entrepreneur from Barcelona. After discovering Spanish folk music, flamenco, at the age of 13, Rosalía studied musicology at the Escuela Superior de Música de Cataluña while performing in music bars and weddings. Rosalía graduated with honours by virtue of her collaborative album with Raül Refree, Los Ángeles (2017) and the final degree project El mal querer(2018), which is co-produced by El Guincho and reimagines flamenco by mixing it with pop and urban music. The latter spawned the single ‘Malamente’, which caught the attention of the general Spanish public and achieved universal critical acclaim. El mal querer won the Latin Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the Grammy Award for Best Urban or Latin Rock Album, was included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and began Rosalía’s rise on the international music scene. Rosalía offers a new birth to flamenco and, in bringing it to the Spanish youth, reconnects them with their origins.
A bust of writer James Clarence Mangan, behind which is a verdant bush
James Clarence Mangan

James Clarence Mangan’s life, marked as it was by highs and lows, resonates as a tale of rebirth amidst adversity. Born in Dublin in 1803, Mangan’s early years were marred by financial struggles and familial challenges. After the Great Hunger, a transformative period for Mangan, he shifted from apolitical themes to patriotic poetry, expressing a renewed nationalistic fervour. His iconic works, like ‘Dark Rosaleen’ and ‘A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century’, emerged during this prolific phase.

Mangan’s legacy later underwent a rebirth, with influential writers like James Joyce and William Butler Yeats acknowledging his contribution. Joyce, in particular, hailed Mangan as a poet whose words ‘ring like brilliant mail’, emphasising his lasting impact. While Mangan’s life ended prematurely in 1849, his influence endured. Critics, recognising him as a precursor to modernist and postmodernist writing, have contributed to a re-evaluation of his work. The complexities of Mangan’s existence, steeped in literary prowess and personal struggles, reflect a journey of renewal – a rebirth that transcends his time and continues to captivate scholars and readers alike.
The film-maker Greta Gerwig smiles in front of a pink Barbie background
Greta Gerwig

Greta Celeste Gerwig, born in 1983, is an American actress, writer, and director. Have initially been immersed in mumblecore films, she transitioned to directing major studio productions. Recognised in the Time 100 list in 2018, Gerwig collaborated with Joe Swanberg on early projects like Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007). Working with her husband Noah Baumbach, she contributed to films like Frances Ha (2012) and Mistress America (2015). As a solo film-maker, Gerwig directed Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), both of which received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture. Her fantasy-comedy Barbie (2023) made history, grossing over $1 billion worldwide. Barbietakes the stereotype of the traditional and canonical doll and portrays it in a new light by changing the paradigm.
A black-and-white image of writer Virginia Woolf sitting at her desk, gazing pensively into the distance
Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a 20th-century English writer. Best known for her novels, she was also a writer of essays, biographies, letters, and diaries. Her writing fell into the modernist movement, which was a literary movement that took place between World War I and World War II. Woolf used a stream-of-consciousness writing style, a literary technique that uses a running inner monologue to bring characters to life in a realistic way. Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography (1928) weaves a narrative that intricately explores the concept of rebirth through the protagonist Orlando. Beginning in the Elizabethan era, Orlando undergoes a centuries-spanning journey, experiencing a remarkable transformation from a man to a woman. This gender metamorphosis serves as a powerful metaphor for rebirth and self-discovery, challenging societal norms and allowing the character to embrace a more authentic identity.

The dedication of Orlando to Vita Sackville-West, Woolf’s close friend and lover, adds a personal dimension to the exploration of rebirth within intimate relationships. Woolf’s narrative not only challenges traditional notions of gender and time but also invites readers to consider the broader philosophical idea of continual renewal and self-discovery throughout one’s existence.
The artist Rachel Arbuckle stands in front a textured white wall
Rachel Arbuckle

Irish artist Rachel Arbuckle, a Dublin native, is deeply immersed in her Celtic heritage, a passion that has significantly influenced her artistic journey. Drawing inspiration from the intricate knotwork found in ancient manuscripts, stone, and metalwork, Rachel’s work seamlessly combines the richness of Celtic tradition with her love for compelling narratives. Mythological warriors, historical figures, and a combination of animals, birds, and fish come to life in her unique artistic style. Despite being based in Tuscany, where she currently resides, and drawing inspiration from the Beara Peninsula’s rugged West Coast, Rachel’s colours reflect the softness of natural pigments used by the Celts.

Rachel’s captivating Celtic-themed creations adorn greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, and other items. Original paintings by Rachel Arbuckle grace the halls of Trinity College Dublin and the National Museum of Ireland. Her fusion of ornate Celtic decoration with contemporary realism has reached global recognition, showcasing a distinctive style that transcends boundaries. Rachel Arbuckle’s art brings a taste of Ireland to the far reaches of the globe, embodying the enduring spirit of Celtic tradition in contemporary form.
Pablo Picasso sits staring solemnly at the camera, his chin resting on his hands
Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, a towering figure in 20th-century art, profoundly impacted the creative landscape. Born in Spain in 1881, he spent much of his life in France, leaving an enduring legacy through a prolific body of over 20,000 works. Picasso’s versatility, from co-founding the Cubist movement to innovating constructed sculpture and collage, redefined plastic arts. His influence transcended traditional boundaries, sparking offshoots like Futurism and Dada.

Picasso’s early life, marked by formal training and a rapid ascent in the art world, set the stage for his brilliance. From the Blue and Rose Periods, to exploring African influences in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, he showcased dynamic evolution. This masterpiece, a departure from tradition, marked the birth of Cubism, signifying Picasso’s freedom from prevailing influences. Picasso’s enduring legacy extends beyond painting and sculpture, as he remains a cultural catalyst who reshaped artistic expression.
The artist Kang Muxiang in a blue overcoat and light-blue scarf stands beneath his imposing scuplture
Kang Muxiang

On display at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS), New Jersey, Rebirth: Kang Muxiang showcases six imposing sculptures by Taiwanese artist Kang Muxiang among the outdoor gardens. Crafted from steel elevator cables sourced from Taipei 101, these embryonic forms, both massive and graceful, reflect Kang’s shift from traditional woodcarving to diverse mediums like bronze and stainless steel. Kang’s Life series, inspired by a year of solitary living on Guishan (Turtle Island), Taiwan, in 2002, explores the intergenerational impact of our lifestyle choices.

Invited by Taipei 101 in 2013 to repurpose expired elevator cables, Kang initiated a unique process involving inmates from a minimum-security prison. Beyond renewing the cables, this program rejuvenates the assistants’ spirits and sense of purpose.

Kang began his artistic practice with traditional woodcarving at the age of 13. Eventually turning to other media, the artist has also worked in bronze and stainless steel.
Roberto Ferri

The work of Italian artist and painter Roberto Ferri is represented in important private collections in Rome, Milan, London, Paris, New York, Barcelona, and more. His work was featured in the controversial Italian pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, and was exhibited at the Palazzo Cini in Venice at the 2010 Kitsch Biennale. In 2021, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, he painted Il Bacio di Dante e Beatrice (The Kiss of Dante and Beatrice) with the painter’s choice of Italian model and actor Edoardo Sferrella as a reference for the figure of the supreme poet; the painting was commissioned by Magnum for its campaign in association with the Scuderie del Quirinale, and exhibited at the Palazzo Firenze in Rome.

His paintings recreate the births of angels and deities and uncovered bodies of men and women, influenced by symbolism and bringing the baroque to a contemporary era.
Artist Eibhilin Crossan, in a black dress, stands in front of a number of paintings
Eibhilin Crossan

Eibhilin Crossan is a contemporary Irish visual artist currently based in Longford, in the Irish midlands. In her early twenties she earned her degree in Art and Design Education from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin, where she specialised in painting. Despite having a sell-out degree show, she decided to take a different path and pursued a teaching career. She creates ethereal nature-inspired art, influenced by the beauty of the natural world that surrounds her. Working from her home studio, she creates original paintings on canvas. Eibhilin works predominantly with acrylic paint and inks, both on canvas and paper, exploring a range of subjects from botanicals and florals to ethereal nature inspired landscapes and portraits.

News From the Network

A photo collage of the seven writers offered Writer-in-Residence/Fellowship positions in 2024

Arts Council Writer-in-Residence/Fellowship Appointments 2024

The Arts Council of Ireland has a long-standing partnership with a number of Irish universities offering Writer-in-Residence/Fellowship positions to provide university students with an opportunity to work with and learn from writers of distinction, and to enable writers to develop their work while in a position of relative financial stability. 

The Arts Council’s 2024 Writer-in-Residence/Fellowship appointments are as follows:

Dublin City University: Aingeala Flannery and Muireann Ní Chíobháin (Irish language)

Maynooth University: Michèle Forbes

University of Galway: John Patrick McHugh 

Trinity College Dublin: Catherine Prasifka

University College Cork: Ian Maleney

University College Dublin: Colin Barrett

Blue and turquoise Financial Resilience Training logo

Financial Resilience Training for Charities

TASC, in Partnership with AVIVA, are now offering Financial Resilience Training to charity staff across Ireland. Financial Resilience Training (FRT) is a free online training which helps charity staff support service users to improve their financial resilience and embed FRT into the core work of the organisation. The training builds financial capability and is transferable to different contexts.

The charity training consists of 6 x 1.5 hour sessions covering topics such as budgeting and saving, managing debt, utility costs, and available financial supports. 

This training is delivered online but can be delivered in person depending on the needs of the group. Visit the Financial Resilience Training website here. For more information, please contact Conor at

Red and gold Ashtar Theatre logo

Ashtar Newsletter

Our friends at Ashtar Theatre in Palestine have published a thoroughly engaging 2023 newsletter. It covers the inspiring work they do promoting creativity and commitment for change through a novel combination of specific training and acting programs and services, and professional theatre performances, not to mention the challenging (to put it mildly) circumstances in which they conduct this work. The newsletter also mentions the launch of their Gaza Monologues read campaign, an international project advocating for the rights of children in Gaza in which youth from Gaza tell their personal stories about war and siege. The newsletter can be read here.

Grants and Opportunities

A person on a silver Apple laptop, their right hand on the mouse, their left raised in the foreground.
For writers, artists, and creators
EURORESO AWARD 2023: Call for Initiatives

EURORESO are seeking submissions for the EURORESO Award 2023. The topic for this year’s award is ‘New skills for a better future’. They are looking for projects and initiatives that help people get new skills for quality jobs; foster skills development for more sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and fair societies; and are innovative and use new technologies. The deadline is 31 January, 2023. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Arts Council Dance Bursary Awards

The purpose of the Arts Council Dance Bursary Awards is to support professional artists in the field of dance to develop their art practice. It provides artists at any stage of their career with the time and resources to think, research, reflect, and critically engage with their art. The deadline is 17:30, Thursday, 15 February, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Arts Council Arts Participation Bursary Award
The primary focus of the Arts Council Arts Participation Bursary Award is on the artist and the exploration and development of the applicant’s own individual artistic practice. The award supports individual professional artists working in any artform to develop their arts participation practice, including collaborative, community, and socially engaged arts practices. The deadline is 17:30, Thursday, 15 February, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.

Arts Council Literature Bursary Award
The Arts Council Literature Bursary Award supports professional individual writers (writing in the English language) in the development of their arts practice. The deadline is 17:30, Thursday, 15 February, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.

Arts Council Film Bursary Award
The Arts Council Film Bursary Award supports professional individual artists at any stage of their career working in the field of experimental or non-narrative film-making to develop their arts practice. The deadline is 17:30, Thursday, 15 February, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Arts Council Theatre Bursary Award
The Arts Council Theatre Bursary Award supports professional theatre artists in the development of their arts practice. The deadline is 17:30, Thursday, 15 February, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Job Opportunities and Tenders

Assistant Arts Officer at Mayo County Council
The successful applicant will work with internal and external partners to create opportunities to engage in the arts throughout the county, at all ages, as creators, spectators, and participants. The post holder will also support the wider work of the Arts Service. The deadline is 16:00, Thursday, February 1, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Community Employment Scheme: Museum Tour Guide
This role will particularly suit candidates with an interest or experience in hospitality or performance. This role is based in the Little Museum of Dublin in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Successful applicants will join the team as a tour guide in the museum, giving half-hour tours to groups of guests on the hour. They also give walking tours of the surrounding area. These tours require you to memorise and present a script. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Video Podcast Editor
Podcasts and Stuff Limited, The Podcast Studios, is a full-service podcast production company located in Dublin city centre. The role involves producing content for all major audio and video platforms and an understanding of the differences between, and requirements of, each platform is very important. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Graphic Designer
Mega Lifesciences is looking for a Graphic Designer, Packaging Design, to work closely with the Marketing Service Manager in a fast-paced environment that will offer ample opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge and expand your experience and expertise. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
Social Circus and Youth Coordinator (Maternity Cover)
Circus Factory seeks to fill the position of Youth and Social Circus Coordinator (maternity cover) to continue the development of these programmes. The ideal candidate will have strong communication skills, a high degree of computer literacy, a passion for the creative arts, and the ability to work with a team and on their own initiative. The deadline is 5pm, 29 January, 2024. Further details can be reached through our Grants and Opportunities page.
That’s it for this edition. Next month’s newsletter, which comes out on Thursday, 29 February (the leap day!), is themed ‘Irish Myths and Legends’. Please keep an eye on our website and social media for more information on artist and news item submissions.

Take care,

Féilim Ó Brádaigh and Carmen Ortiz Victorino