"WHAT is a weekend?" asked the Dowager Countess of Grantham, aka Maggie Smith of the other dowager Shirley MacLaine, in Downton Abbey. For the Countess it was an American – in other words declasse – nonsense.
For most of us nowadays it is a few days to block out the outside world with a visit to the pub, the cinema or friends' houses. For artist John Keating, however, 'weekend' has an entirely different meaning. On Thursday afternoon, he left Dublin for an exhibition of his work. In China. He leaves China today and lands back in Dublin tomorrow.
That's a weekend? John was attending, along with a hundred other artists from around the world, a group exhibition in the Water Cube Museum in Beijing.
"The building was inspired by the natural formation of bubbles," the Clonmel-born artist told me as he sipped some different kind of bubbles – champagne – at a party we both attended, along with Guggi, Michael Mortell, Sarah Harte, Debbie Deegan, Fiona Foy Holland, Kip Carroll, Sharon Malone, Alan Bruton, Jay Bourke, Ruth Griffin, Tatiana Ouliankina, Brendan O'Connor, Sarah Caden, Mary MacGiolla Ri, and Kevin and Rose Kelly last Sunday in Portobello.
John, who attended the first Beijing International Biennale in 2003, added that he was going Christmas shopping while in China for his wife Miriam O'Meara and twin girls Rebecca and Ruth. "They have given me a list," the artist chuckled. "It's a long one."