Monday 26 June 2017

My cultural life: Orla McBride

Orlaith McBride, director of the Arts Council
Orlaith McBride, director of the Arts Council

Orlaith McBride is director of the Arts Council, the state agency for leading and developing the arts in Ireland. She began working in theatre with young people in Tallaght in west Dublin in the 1990s and has continued to work in the arts for over 20 years. She feels lucky to work in an area that she loves. She is originally from Ardara in Co Donegal and though she has lived in Dublin for many years, Donegal remains her home.

Playwright: Tom Murphy

I adore the work of playwright Tom Murphy. His plays deal with despair, rage, human suffering and the pursuit of hope and redemption. This may sound dark and depressing but the plays are full of humour, which carry the audience through the hopelessness. I recently went to see a production of Murphy's The Wake (above) at the Abbey - an extraordinary night at the theatre. The acting and direction were magnificent. Even the set took my breath away.

Book: Birdsong

I read a lot of Irish fiction which is going through a golden age right now. But recently I returned to Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, a book I hadn't read in 20 years. I decided to read it again because of the focus on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and because my great-grandfather, Nicholas Hand, had fought and was injured in World War I. I've only recently become interested in his story and that of his two brothers, who all joined the British Army to escape the poverty of turn-of-the-century Dublin. Birdsong is a stunning novel that tells the story of a young man before, during and after World War I. It is harrowing and beautiful in equal measure.

TV: The Good Wife

Since the final episode of The Good Wife aired a fortnight ago, I've been in mourning. I don't commit to much TV but for seven series of this American show, I didn't miss one of the 156 episodes. It told the story of a wife, mother and lawyer, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, left), who, when a very public sex and political corruption scandal lands her husband in prison, resumes her career as a lawyer and takes charge of her own destiny. It charts the evolution of a woman who grows in strength, conviction and independence.

Artist: Anselm Kiefer

I love contemporary art. I travel a lot and the greatest joy for me is discovering new artists. But there are always those artists that intrigue and fascinate over the years as they continue to ply their trade. German artist Anselm Kiefer is one of those. He is a painter - a rare thing amongst contemporary artists. He creates giant works on canvas exploring German history and myth, particularly as it relates to the holocaust (above). What's interesting is that his work has forced his contemporaries to also deal with Germany's past which for too long was taboo.

Music: Miles Davis

I don't listen to a lot of music but when I do it's normally American jazz. I adore Miles Davis (right) and can never get enough of him - Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue are two of my favourite albums. I also listen a lot to John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, both of whom were hugely influenced by Davis. www.artscouncil.ie

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