We scour the media each week for our favourite four cultural stories, innovations or campaigns across the vibrant sectors that our team promotes, including: books; visual art; architecture and design; museums; performing arts; and universities.
Burns at the Biennale
This week sees the art world gather together for the 58th Venice Biennale, entitled ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’, which seems to sum up this week’s newsletter. The Financial Times focuses on the UAE pavilion, a video piece by Emirati poet and film-maker Nujoom Alghanem (who is one of the trustees for our client the International Prize for Arabic Fiction), which reflects on the life or death importance of poetry in the Arab world. The curators, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, also worked most recently with our client NYUAD Art Gallery, on the show Ways of Seeing. Meanwhile The Guardian picked out the new ‘melancholy’ body of work being unveiled by Northern Irish-born artist Cathy Wilkes at the British pavilion, which is organised by the British Council and was opened by fellow Northern Irish creative 2018 Man Booker winner Anna Burns, whose work Wilkes is a fan of.
On the subject of Northern Ireland, we were touched to see the mural of murdered journalist Lyra McKee unveiled in her home city of Belfast as part of the Hit of the North Festival, as reported on ITV news. The tribute, which highlights the role art can play in political dialogue, has been created by artist Emma Blake, and includes words from a letter McKee wrote to her teenage self, “It won’t always be like this. It’s going to get better”.
Turner Prize U-turn
We tend to prefer to focus on good news stories in Four Culture Finds, but it’s a short week, and aside from Royal baby-fever it’s been slim pickings. Plus it was hard to ignore the latest controversy in the world of sponsorship with the Turner Prize swiftly dropping Stagecoach just a day after the partnership was announced. This coming shortly after the donation rows over BAE and the Sacklers demonstrates what a tricky place arts funding is currently in. Two good pieces of analysis can be read on the BBC and FT.
Reasons to be Cheerful
To end on a happy note and one of our favourite announcements of the year, we were delighted to reveal this week that Nina Stibbe won the 2019 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, along with the honour of having two rare breed pigs named after her novel, Reasons to Be Cheerful. Her novel had already drawn comparisons to the work of the prize’s namesake in The Guardian last month: ‘As with comic writers PG Wodehouse or David Sedaris, it is not the plotting that you seek out in Stibbe, but the ticklishly wayward turn-of-phrase and irreverent conjuring of character.’ You can catch Nina and her pigs at the Hay Festival on 26 May.
Alecasandra Raluca Dragoi