Easter Rising: Irish Artists Now

  • Film still taken from a work by Jennifer Walshe called

    Jennifer Walshe, An Gleacht (film still)

  • A film still taken from the work by Desperate Optimists titled

    Desperate Optimists, Further Beyond (film still)

Past Event

This event was on Sat 19 Mar, 11.30am–6pm

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been cancelled.

Marking the centenary of Ireland’s Easter Rising, the Whitechapel Gallery presents a day long presentation of  artists’ films, performances, readings and guest discussions, to examine the diverse contemporary practice from both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Including screenings of Mise Eire (George Morrison, 1960), No More (Mairead McClean, 2014) and Living in a Coded Land (Pat Collins, 2014).

Speakers include Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, Jennifer Walshe and Nick Stewart. 


11:30 Welcome /  Reading of ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B.Yeats

11:35 Screening: Mise Eire (George Morrison, 1960) 88 mins

Mise Éire was the first Irish feature-length film (and the first in the Irish language) that utilized an orchestral soundtrack, but its renown also rests on its director’s then relatively novel technique of recounting historical events entirely through existing archive material. And what a story he was able to relate, covering twenty or so years of political change in Ireland from the 1890s to 1918. This period witnessed the flowering of Irish Nationalism, not just from a political standpoint, but through cultural and social conduits. Morrison adroitly draws all the strands together through some remarkable footage, placing especial emphasis on the abortive Easter Rising of 1916 and populating his composite with numerous archive shots of key players.” – Geoff Wallis
Many thanks to Soracha Pelan O’Treasaigh and Robert Navan

13:00 Break

13:50 Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor

Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor have been collaborating (as Desperate Optimists) since 1992. Working across various art forms, most notably moving image, their practice has remained focused on the relationship between identity and displacement. In this presentation they will explore their practice paying particular attention to their latest film, the feature length documentary Further Beyond (2016). their most personal work to date, which concerns, among other things, their attempt to retrace the steps of the 18th Century Irish figure Ambrosio O’ Higgins, Governor General of Chile.

14:30 Jennifer Walshe

Walshe talks about her recent project Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde, in which Walshe and a team of collaborators constructed a fictional history of Irish avant-garde music and sound works, ranging from the mid 19th-century to 1985, housed at www.aisteach.org, the home of the Aisteach Foundation, the “avant-garde archive of Ireland”. Walshe then presents a screening of her film An Gleacht. Originally commissioned by Cork Film Festival, An Gleacht is a work by Irish outsider artist Caoimhín Breathnach. Blending Irish folk practices such as strawboys and holy wells with Breathnach’s idiosyncratic esoteric system of correspondences, subliminal tapes and videos, the film constitutes a sonic folk horror occult ritual.

15:30 Nick Stewart

Stewart discusses the difficulties and contradictions of his Northern Irish identity and how this, and other experience, informs his work now. In particular he focusses on his recently published books and presents an excerpt from his work-in-progress video collaboration with Helen Blejerman.

16:00 Short break

16:25 Screening: No More (Mairead McClean, 2014) 16 mins

Artist Mairead McClean is the daughter of leading civil rights activist and former internee Paddy-Joe McClean from Beragh and his wife Annie. She used diverse film and audio-visual technologies to produce this haunting work, incorporating images and sounds from 1970s Northern Ireland and inspired by her father’s recollections of the turbulent era he lived through. This piece won the Mac International Art Award in 2014.

16:40 Screening: Living in a Coded Land (Pat Collins, 2014) 80 mins

“Pat Collins’ documentary oeuvre is frequently characterised as Slow Cinema. We’re not so sure. True, the film-maker’s visual essays, although contemplative and associational, could seldom be confused with the urgent, lens-based pamphlets of Adam Curtis. To date, Collins’s ruminations on the west (Tim Robinson: Connemara and Pilgrim), emigration (What We Leave in our Wake) and assorted artists (John McGahern, Abbas Kiarostami, Gabriel Byrne) have maintained a graceful pace: all the better to scope out fascinating connections and provide pause for thought. But don’t be fooled by the rhythms and the nostalgia-making archive footage of the director’s cinematic exploration of the Irish midlands. Living in a Coded Land is all about the middle, namely Co. Westmeath, and its shifting relationship with colonial and national powers. And the middle as in middlemen, who rose up under British rule as the cattle hands of the 1600s and who continue, spiritually speaking, to dominate the nation as bankers and managers. None of the film’s many contributors – academics, historians, cartographers – feel obliged to add that middle men are only capable of middling outcomes. Slow? Look closer.” – Tara Brady. http://harvestfilms.ie/

18:00 Event ends

About Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor

Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor were born in Dublin, They studied theatre in the UK in the late 80s. From 1992 to 1999 they toured six internationally acclaimed devised theatre shows. Between 2000 and 2003 they directed a number of episodic, interactive works for the internet, and large-scale community video projects for galleries. Between 2003 and 2010 they produced, wrote and directed 10 acclaimed short films, under the title Civic Life. Helen, their debut feature film (2008), was followed by Mister John (2013).



About Jennifer Walshe

“The most original compositional voice to emerge from Ireland in the past 20 years” (The Irish Times) and “Wild girl of Darmstadt” (Frankfurter Rundschau), composer and performer Jennifer Walshe was born in Dublin. Her music has been commissioned, broadcast and performed all over the world. Walshe has written a large number of operas and theatrical works, including XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!! an opera for Barbie dolls, available on DVD from Mere Records, and Die Taktik, for the Junge Oper Stuttgart.


About Nick Stewart

Nick Stewart‘s Twitter biography says that he is a “lapsed artist, born-again film maker, frustrated drummer, recovering doomer, successfully-failed academic and meditation addict.” Over a period of 30+ years he has made performances and other temporary and sited works, videos and video installations and, more recently, has published two books reflecting on his Irish upbringing. He is currently working on a feature length video, collaborating with Mexican artist and writer, Helen Blejerman.