News and Views
UCC’s first Professor of Creative Practice embarks on Unveiled Horizons
An installation of portraits of Cork-based women on flags at the city’s port is the result of a project spearheaded by Jools Gilson, UCC’s first Professor of Creative Practice.
The close-up black-and-white shots for Unveiled Horizons by world-renowned photographer Carl Cordonnier of six women are exhibited at Custom House Quay; on the Port of Cork sign, on top of the Custom House and next to the new Marina.
“For Unveiled Horizons, we collaborated with women from Cork on the composition of their portraits - a grandmother from Knocknaheeny, a Lieutenant Commander in the Irish Navy, a boat builder, a swimmer in the Lee Swim, a survivor of the Somali Civil War and the Government of Ireland India Scholarship student at UCC,” Gilson said.
“Portraits from Cork will join those from other countries – a symbolic streaming of women from port cities with their eyes on the horizon and possibility.”
Focused on the hidden presence of women in port towns and cities, the work was on display throughout Cork Harbour Festival (June 3 – 11) and will run throughout Cork Midsummer Festival (June 16 – 25).
The installation is presented by UCC Creative - a new initiative led by Gilson aimed at developing creative practice both within UCC and in lively networks between academia and cultural industries. Unveiled Horizons was made in partnership with the French Embassy in Ireland, Cork Harbour Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival, Port of Cork and UCC Women’s Studies.
“It’s been extraordinary doing interviews and photoshoots with this group of women based in Cork - hearing their stories, and developing their portraits with them. Over the course of one day, we visited the naval base in Haulbowline to work with Lieutenant Commander Erika O’Leary, who wanted her portrait taken on board a naval ship about to leave to pick up migrants crossing from Libya to Italy, followed by a chilly swim in Myrtleville, where we photographed a retired nurse, who went from non-swimmer to doing the Lee Swim in eight months,” Gilson said.
“That evening we interviewed Nura Hagi about her experience of the Somali Civil War. Amazingly, Carl [Cordonnier] had worked with Médecins Sans Frontières in the same hospital in Mogadishu that Nura had been admitted to when she was shot as a child. The following day, Nura welcomed us to the mosque on Shandon Street where Carl developed her portrait with a community of friends.”
According to Gilson, Unveiled Horizons “gives presence and voice to women in port cities,” with Cork in Ireland joining previous versions of the project in China, Morocco, Scotland and France.”
UCC Creative has also joined forces with Cork Community Art Link and Cork Midsummer Festival, to host Stillpoint, a four-day performance workshop with John Fox and Sue Gill, founders of the British experimental theatre group Welfare State International, which grew over 40 years to become one of the most influential artistic forces in community art and British theatre. Open to artists working in theatre, music, dance and visual art, the workshop will take place from June 12 to 15 in Cork.
With ambitious plans to develop local, national and global collaborations, Gilson said her new post was developed “to envision and lead a new way of thinking about creative education, research and cultural industries in lively collaborative gestures between third level, government, artists and broadcast professionals.”
Gilson, a working broadcast professional and academic, originally trained in theatre and dance. She ran her own dance company for 10 years and has also presented work in galleries. She has been making creative radio in documentary and creative forms for the BBC and RTÉ since 2010 and is currently completing a feature in collaboration with RTÉ lyric fm’s composer-in-residence Sebastian Adams.
“I’ve worked professionally across multiple arts and broadcast disciplines, and so I’ve an insight into how those different areas develop and make work.”
The participants of the Stillpoint workshop will have an informal showing of work on Custom House Quay this Thursday (June 14) at 6pm. Free and all welcome.