Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

A Visit to Cork

The Crawford Municipal Art Gallery in Cork has become synonymous with Peter Murray, whose quiet deft direction of its affairs has transformed its collection and its activities. He has done this in an appropriately Cork fashion: that is to say, he has not revolutionised things there, but changed them in keeping with the basic style of the city, conservative, witty, self-confident and assured. It is other things besides; but since I first went there, in the summer of 1958 as a student from Trinity College I have always welcomed its unchanging comforts of familiar streets and buildings, of the lilting accent and the curious challenging look outsiders get, welcoming, but testing you as well with an unasked question – ‘Are you ready for Cork?’

The Perfect Concert

Coming away from Tuesday night’s Salzburg Mozarteum concert at the National Concert Hall my mind was filled with questions. How do orchestras become so collectively inspired? What is it that holds them together? What are the inner workings of a group of fifty or sixty people whose life demands that they concentrate on each other’s output, musically, as well as delivering their own account of perfection in performance? What are the things that go wrong? What are the mistakes that sometimes happen in programming? How does the soloist – if there is one – fit in with his transient encounter with such an overwhelming expression of artistic excellence?

The Strange Quest of Neil Shawcross

Last Monday evening Neil Shawcross’s latest show opened at the Peppercanister Gallery, in Herbert Street. As with many events in his life as a painter, it was a celebration. The atmosphere was filled with love and excitement, the walls glowed with vibrant colours, mainly red and black. The subjects of the paintings are chairs, or should I say, the subject of almost all the paintings is a chair. A bit like a piece of shaker furniture, it has a tall ladder-back and is simple and austere.