Wednesday 18 September 2019

My cultural life: Helen Marriage, creative director

Helen Marriage
Helen Marriage
Wings of Desire
Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies
Ghost Ships

Helen Marriage is creative director of Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. As one of the biggest cultural events in the world, Galway 2020 promises to deliver a year of thrilling, life-enhancing experiences through culture and the arts. Helen is also CEO and artistic director of creative company Artichoke, following seven years as director of the Salisbury Festival. She was previously director of Arts & Events at Canary Wharf for property developers Olympia & York and associate director of the London International Festival of Theatre and Artsadmin. She was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2012. She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in Britain's New Year's Honours list in 2016. She says: "When I'm not splitting my time working between Galway and London, you can find me sailing the English canals on my 70ft canal boat with my cats, out of reach of wifi and phone signal!"

Movie: Wings of Desire

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Wings of Desire

Hard to choose. Herzog's Fitzcarraldo - which always seems like a metaphor for anyone working in the arts as the protagonists try to haul a steamship over a mountain. The soundtrack, taken from Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo and Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, is to die for. But my real favourite is Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (pictured) with its population of disembodied angels watching over the mortal humans below who have need of their protection.

Music: Inagh Valley set

I'm currently entranced by Mairtin O'Connor's Inagh Valley set which I've only come to know since taking up the post of creative director of Galway 2020. It's music that is sublime in its achievement and remarkably modest in performance. I find myself watching the YouTube recording again and again.

Artwork: Ghost Ship

Ghost Ships

Dorothy Cross's Ghost Ship (above) is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. A redundant light-ship reimagined as a ghostly presence in Scotsman's Bay, Dun Laoghaire. A resident of Connemara, Cross's homage to the lightships, which marked the dangers of the open sea around Ireland, was a moving evocation of the past.

Book: Prodigal Summer

I return to Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer almost every year. As the story unwinds, the complicated lives of a small rural community unfold in all their desperate, tender and yearning complexity.

TV: Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies, produced by Reese Witherspoon and starring Nicole Kidman (above) and Laura Dern, is part thriller, part domestic drama. It's brilliantly scripted, and acted with real panache.

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