In celebration of International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is shining a light on just some of the many talented women who are working in the Arts in the region.
Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “I am delighted to help celebrate IWD and in particular the many women artists that the Arts Council supports. It’s an opportunity to remember just what the ARTS can do, how powerful the arts are in their ability to challenge, inspire and give women a voice. And importantly, the power of the arts to bring women and communities closer together across the world.
“The small selection of women we shine a light on today, demonstrates how important a role they play. Their art is a means to communicate to many, and attempts to bring the issues bubbling around us to life in a beautiful, creative and often challenging way; making us think, smile, laugh or sing, making us cry and feel deeply, entertaining us, uniting us in a way only the arts can do.
“Thank you to all the women artists out there who continue the work of bringing great art and ideas to help express some of the pressing issues bearing down on so many of us at this time, both at home and abroad.”
Some of the tremendous women working in the arts in Northern Ireland include:
Eibhlin de Barra, Director, Young at Art
Eibhlin de Barra was appointed Director at Young at Art in 2016. She is responsible for leading the Young at Art team and delivering the annual Belfast Children’s Festival which is currently taking place online this year from 5-14 March.
She has held the position of Company Manager at Maiden Voyage Dance, Northern Ireland’s leading commissioning company for contemporary dance and been a leading arts manager in Northern Ireland for over 10 years, including work for the Crescent Arts Centre, RANSOM Productions, Replay Theatre Co and Castleward Opera.
Eibhlin, who trained at RADA, has a background in Stage Management including the Lyric Theatre Belfast and Abbey Theatre Dublin, and also holds an MSc in Cultural Management.
Eibhlin is passionate about the positive impact the arts can have on young people, something that is core to Young at Art’s ethos.
For details of this year’s online Belfast Children’s Festival, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council, visit www.youngatart.co.uk
Nandi Jola, writer
Nandi Jola is an exceptional playwright, poet, writer and creative writing facilitator originally from South Africa and who now lives in Portadown, Northern Ireland.
She is a currently a writer for Brassneck Theatre’s, Six Project, and Prime Cut Productions, Ensemble Colours. Her Creative Writing projects include Phenomenal Women and Same-Difference. Nandi’s play, The Journey, opened the prestigious International Literature Festival Dublin in October 2020. In 2013 she managed the, Home is Neither Here Nor There, exhibition in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Nandi’s work has been published in several anthologies throughout Northern Ireland. Nandi is a former SIAP awardee of the Arts Council, a career development award funded by National Lottery funding.
Commenting on International Women’s Day, Nandi Jola, said: “Black women’s writing is important in changing the narrative of telling stories about Northern Ireland. Black people are here and so are their poems, stories, plays and we must see them in the literary world.”
Hilary Copeland, new Director of Fighting Words
Hilary Copeland joined Fighting Words Northern Ireland, the creative writing network for children and young people, as its new Director in March 2021.
Hilary has worked in the arts sector since 2008, for festivals, arts and theatre companies in Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. She has worked across business management, strategic planning, creative programming and event delivery. Hilary started her career in literature at the Stanza Poetry Festival and The Byre Theatre before joining the Programming Team at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, working on the Children & Schools Programme.
As a freelance arts manager, producer and programmer, she has worked for clients including Belfast International Arts Festival, NI Science Festival, Kabosh, Culture Northern Ireland, Whittrick Press, Belfast Book Festival and Young at Art. Hilary led long-standing arts and cultural charity, The John Hewitt Society, from 2013 – 2019, where she ran the John Hewitt International Summer School and founded the Hillsborough Festival of Literature & Ideas. In 2019 she joined the Irish Writers Centre as Acting Director, where she successfully led the IWC team during the COVID-19 pandemic, moving to remote online delivery to continue offering courses, resources and support to writers throughout the crisis. Visit www.fightingwords.co.uk
Lisa McGee, playwright and screenwriter
Lisa Magee is a multi-award-winning playwright and screenwriter from Derry-Londonderry and the name behind the exceptionally successful TV show, Derry Girls. In summer 2020, the Arts Council through National Lottery funding, supported the Lyric Theatre, BBC NI, & BBC Arts, on an exciting collaboration – Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama – a collection of five minute theatrical pieces exploring life in lockdown. One of the films, The Girl at the Window, was written by Lisa McGee, and was filmed on location, in accordance with social distancing guidelines over several weeks. The pieces explored the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown. Each short film was broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Splendid Isolation went on to be nominated for an award by the Royal Television Society.
You can watch The Girl at the Window on BBC IPlayer BBC iPlayer – BBC Arts NI presents – Splendid Isolation: 4. The Girl at the Window
Nicola Curry, Artistic Director, Maiden Voyage
Nicola Curry is the Artistic Director of the contemporary dance, commissioning company Maiden Voyage. The company have commissioned over 34 new dance works from national and international choreographers, composers, performers and collaborators, offering essential professional development for the dance sector here and providing a wide range of engagement opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
Originally from Armagh, Nicola was inspired by many women from or based in Northern Ireland who forged careers in dance including: Caroline Robinson, Sandy Cuthbert, Jill Burns, Anne Marie Morgan, Mags Byrne, Anthea McWilliams and Jane Mooney. After graduating from QUB and knowing that career in law was not her path, Nicola was fortunate to be mentored in arts management by Anna Cutler, the founding Director of Young at Art and worked on the first four Young at Art Festivals 1998-2000. She left to undertake an MA in Dance Performance and founded Maiden Voyage on her return to Belfast in 2001 at a time when there was no dance company to perform with.
Nicola has worked on children’s TV programmes, opening ceremonies for Odyssey Belfast, and for the Special Olympics World Games, choreographed theatre productions, school events and short films (Flying Saucer Rock n’Roll being an early career highlight).
Maiden Voyage’s latest commission, Turnabout, from choreographer Jennifer Rooney and composer Elaine Agnew, will premiere online at Young at Art’s Belfast Children’s Festival 6-14 March 2021, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council. Visit www.youngatart.co.uk and www.maidenvoyagedance.com
Justine Gormley, pianist and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Justine Gormley, from Saintfield, Co.Down, discovered her love of music when she was found as a toddler playing nursery rhymes by ear on the family piano. Initially taught by her mother, she was later enrolled into private piano lessons with EPTA tutor, John McParland, in Belfast, at the age of 12. Justine remained under his tutelage until 2017, when she was accepted into the Royal Northern College of Music to study with Senior Tutor in Piano, John Gough. In January 2021, Justine was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.
Justine has had various successes in competitions, including a prize at the Irish Heritage Bursary Competition at Wigmore Hall, the Rose Reilly Memorial Award at the Barry Douglas’ Camerata Ireland Academy, and the Alen-Buckley award presented by the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.
Justine has been fortunate to have Barry Douglas as a mentor for two consecutive years at the Clandeboye Music Festival. Other internationally known pianists she has received masterclasses and lessons from include Bernard d’Ascoli, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Stephan Möller, Noriko Ogawa, Kathryn Stott, Grigory Gruzman, and Dmitri Alexeev.
Justine has performed in various notable venues including the Ulster Hall, the Kevin Barry Recital Room at the National Concert Hall, the Carmo Convent Ruins, Portugal, as part of the Lisbon International Youth Music Festival, and recently the Irish Embassy in London as an Irish Heritage artist. She has also been broadcast on both BBC Radio Ulster and RNCM Radio. Justine Gormley – Home | Facebook
Roisin Donald (ROE), singer-songwriter and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Roisin Donald (ROE): Devastatingly sincere and intensely relatable, ROE is a songwriter that pours her heart into every word that she writes. Her work spills truths from her own life, and from speculations on the planet on which we exist. In January 2021, Roisin was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.
Hailing from Derry-Londonderry, ROE left college before finishing to travel the world playing festivals and to focus on writing songs that felt real. Her 2020 EP ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ saw ROE cross 1 million streams on Spotify and is the culmination of 4 years of relentless writing, releasing and touring as a completely independent artist.
At 18-years-old she received a coveted slot on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in 2017, which led her on to perform across Europe, North America, India and beyond; supporting local legends Snow Patrol on their 2018/19 UK Arena Tour. The winner of Best Emerging Artist – Northern Ireland Music Prize, 2018 and recipient of the PRS Foundation Momentum Fund, 2020, ROE’s music has been used as part of a TV and radio campaign for BBC Music NI, in ITV’s ‘The Only Way is Essex’, Channel 4’s ‘Made in Chelsea’ and Netflix’s ‘Terrace House’.
With her previous releases, she has gained extensive support and plays from BBC Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music, regular playlisting across Irish radio on RTE2FM and Today FM, and her monthly listeners on Spotify continue to grow steadily. ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ was released on 21st August 2020 on all streaming platforms and limited edition 10” vinyl (available at Merch – ROE (musicglue.com))
Rose Connolly, composer, instrumentalist and BBC/Arts Council Young Musicians’ Platform (classical) Awardee 2021
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Rose Connolly was born in County Fermanagh. Her body of work includes ensemble, large-scale and small-scale works, solo pieces, electronic solo/ensemble pieces and short film/multi-media works also. As an accomplished performer in the Classical and traditional field, Rose studies Music Composition in The Royal Irish Academy of Music under the direction of Jonathan Nangle. In January 2021, Rose was announced as one of six BBC/Arts Council NI Young Musicians’ Platform Award recipients, a prestigious career development award for exceptional, young musicians, supported by National Lottery funding.
Rose maintains a busy performance schedule in Ireland and she has composed for the Contempo string quartet, and various RIAM ensembles, electronic and solo works for Dublin’s esteemed musicians, David Collins and Ailbhe McDonagh. In 2018, she collaborated with the Irish Dance theatre. The two dancers interpreted through ballet and created a short video in the Gardens at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham In 2019, she was commissioned to write the Fanfare for the closing concert of Dublin Brass Week, performed by the esteemed Adam Rappa, Alan Thomas and David Rejano.
From December 2018 to March 2020, Rose Connolly and Imogen Gunner set up a duo collaboration where they played original, folk and traditional music and songs. As a duo, they also performed at the ‘Finding a Voice’ concert in Clonmel for International Women’s Day 2020.
Her more recent work includes a series of saxophone quartet works for the Chatham quartet, solo piano works written and most recently she won the Finding A Voice Composition Competition for Emerging Women Composers. Rose Connolly was also awarded a Royal Television Society award for best sound in June 2020 for her score in the short animation, CTRL + ALT +Z. Rose Connolly Composer – Home | Facebook
Corrina Askin, illustrator and animator
Corrina Askin is an illustrator and animator who has created and developed her own IP for Channel 5, MTV, RTE and Cbeebies. She has created, designed and wrote two pre-school animated series, Castle Farm on Milkshake, Channel Five and Joe and Jack on RTE, and has a third in development. Her work also broadcasts on Disney, ABC Australia and Canal+. She was awarded the White Ravens Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, as well as being presented the Bisto Illustration Award. She was awarded the prestigious Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris residency and the first John Springhall residency in Flowerfield, Portstewart. Her work is playful and intelligent and draws on elements of nature, philosophy, invention and self-awareness. Corrina was a recent recipient of funding from the Arts Council’s Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP). Inte
Niamh Scullion, writer
Niamh Scullion is currently working on her first novel, using some free time funded by the University of Atypical’s iDA award for deaf and disabled artists. Niamh has dealt with progressive hearing loss for many years, which has given the writer many challenges in her career as journalist, PR and community developer, socially and even in writing since she misses out on an essential source of inspiration for many writers – eavesdropping.
Niamh completed an MA in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast in 2010, and participated in an NI Screen Short Steps script development programme a few years later. She has written many short stories and short film scripts as well as regular feature articles for community organisations or newspapers, including a recent feature story in Freckle Magazine on Lagan Currachs, a boat building and rowing charity she helped set up in 2016. She is currently several drafts into her first Young Adult novel which she will be reading from this Saturday and inviting people to discuss its themes and afterwards participate in a read-through of a new short film script.
In March 2020, Niamh was announced as one of sixteen disabled artists from Northern Ireland to receive the University of Atypical’s, Individual Disabled Artist (iDA) Award. The iDA is a career development award supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and enables each artist to produce a new high-quality work, receive training or professional mentoring. Join Niamh and the University of Atypical online this Saturday 6th March from 3-4pm, to mark International Women’s Day. For details see below or visit www.universityofatypical.com
EVENTS TO MARK INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
A number of arts organisations will be celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend and throughout next week:
Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble: presents, Elemental: Celebrating International Women’s Day. Join Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble for a concert of music by some of our finest female composers from Ireland and further afield, inspired by the natural world. From swirling seas to starry skies, this music inspires and challenges us to rediscover the elements we all share. Ticket holders will receive a link via email on Monday 8th March to watch the concert broadcast. The concert stream will expire 48 hours after the broadcast begins. The concert can be watched at any time during this 48-hour window. Free tickets can be booked at Elemental: Celebrating International Women’s Day Tickets, Mon 8 Mar 2021 at 19:30 | Eventbrite
University of Atypical: join the University of Atypical online on Saturday 6th March from 3-4pm, to mark International Women’s Day with Niamh Scullion. The theme for this year’s IWD is “the new phenomenal” and Niamh’s prospects as a new novelist is exciting. You’re invited to gather online where Niamh will read a short excerpt from her novel in progress, invite you to join in a read-through of a short film script, and have a discussion on some of the themes. For details visit www.universityofatypical.com
On the same evening, 7-8pm, University of Atypical presents, I’m Not Normal, with multimedia artists Hari MacMillan and Michael Curran. Hari and Michael will converse on the impact identity and experience have had on their lives and artistic practice. Visit www.harimacmillandotcom.
International Women’s Day ‘White Ribbon’ Anthem Launch with Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra: On International Women’s Day, Monday 8th March, Women’s Aid ABCLN, Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra will launch ‘White Ribbon’, a collaborative anthem co-written by pianist Ruth McGinley and songwriter Duke Special, reflecting the voices and experience of women affected by domestic abuse.
Guests attending the event will be amongst the first to preview ‘White Ribbon’, following its live recording in the Waterfront Hall with vocalist Jolene O’Hara, Northern Ireland Opera’s Associate Artists and the Ulster Orchestra.
White Ribbon is a global movement to end male violence against women and the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem has been commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera, working jointly with the Ulster Orchestra and Women’s Aid ABCLN, in response to the devastating impact of domestic abuse witnessed at this time.
Join Women’s Aid online on Monday 8th March from 7pm for the 40-minute event to launch the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem. The ‘White Ribbon’ anthem will also be available on YouTube and other audio streaming channels. For more information about the ‘White Ribbon’ anthem you can call Women’s Aid ABCLN on 028 25 632136 or to register and receive your link for the online launch email firstname.lastname@example.org
International Women’s Day Festival at The MAC: until 11th March, The MAC has a packed programme of events to celebrate International Women’s Day. For full details visit International Women’s Day 2021 (themaclive.com)
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich: will celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021 and Féile an Earraigh with a varied programme of events between the 6th and 17th of March. The celebration of women will be central to this year’s programme as Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich will broadcast a series of three interviews during the week beginning the 8th of March with artists who have long held ties with the Cultúrlann including, Nuala Ní Néill, Eimear Nic Roibeaird and Therese Bann. These interviews will be conducted by members of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich’s staff.
The celebration of International Women’s Day will continue throughout the week with the premiere of a multi-artform short film ‘Spéirbhean a collaboration between writer Máire Zepf, dancer Clara Kerr and director Jo Guthrie on the 12th of March. The film will take a fresh look at how women inhabit their bodies across the span of their lives and will be a celebration of the beauty of female resilience, told through spoken word, dance and photography.
The public will then be given an opportunity to see how a multi-artform film is made (during a pandemic) with a special event on the 13th of March when the four women behind the film ‘Spéirbhean’ will shed a light on the inspiration, the challenges and the creative processes behind this ground-breaking work. For further information visit www.culturlann.ie
Beyond Skin: is asking women to get involved in the Peace In Mind: 100 Project, a one-of-a-kind project in Northern Ireland, focused on sharing the stories from 100 women. The plan for this project is to create 100 pages, with 100 pieces of art from 100 women. This artwork will then be bound into a beautiful book, hand crafted with sustainable & ethical materials by
Wilhelmina Peace. This book will travel, and a temporary digital version will be made available online. This book will then be placed in a time capsule to be opened in, you guessed it…100 years! To sign up visit Peace in Mind: The 100 (google.com)