Nerve Centre to mark First World War Centenary with Exciting New Project

Nerve Centre to mark First World War Centenary with Exciting New Project

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Nissen, who invented the Nissen Hut in April 1916, talking to a Sergeant in front of a Nissen Hut at Blangy 1917. © IWM (Q 1743)

14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary, has announced details of major events and new commissions taking place across Northern Ireland in 2016.

The Nerve Centre has co-commissioned artist Anne Tallentire to explore the architectural legacy of the Nissen hut, the curved structure invented during the First World War to house soldiers and supplies.

In Shelter, Tallentire will create work across a range of media, including drawing, photography and film. In June and July, visitors will be invited to watch Tallentire work in an open studio at Eighty81, in Derry-Londonderry. Tallentire will also work with architects, activists and volunteers to produce a large-scale work, which will be exhibited in outdoor public spaces, including Ebrington Square and the Ulster Museum in Belfast. Shelter is co-commissioned between the Nerve Centre and 14-18 NOW.

Further highlights of the programme in Northern Ireland include:

  • Choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir will present The Casement Project inspired by the British peer, Irish nationalist and international humanitarian Roger Casement, who was hanged in 1916.
  • In The WW1 Years and More, award-winning performer Taylor Mac will bring a series of special concerts to Belfast International Arts Festival, reflecting on Ireland’s experiences during the first decades of the 20th century.
  • Radio Relay will explore Ireland’s role in the development of radio technology through newly commissioned works and a nationwide participation event.

Fearghus Ó Conchúir's ambitious dance commission The Casement Project is inspired by the British peer, Irish nationalist and international humanitarian Roger Casement, who was hanged in Pentonville Prison in 1916.

Knighted for exposing human rights abuses in the Congo and the Amazon, his support for Irish nationalism during the First World War was a British scandal. His homosexuality was even more scandalous.

The project will include stage performances, a film, an academic symposium, a summer beach dance festival and a series of other opportunities for the public to participate in the project. The work will be performed in Belfast in Autumn 2016.

In his first Northern Ireland appearance, the Obie Award-winning New York performer Taylor Mac will present The WW1 Years and More, a series of participative concerts at Belfast International Arts Festival in October 2016.

In two concerts, his astute take on music and culture spans the years before, during and after the First World War from 1896 through to 1926. His third concert will be a ten-decade spectacular from 1916, the year of the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, through to 2016.

Accompanied by a live band and dressed in a dazzling array of costume creations, Mac will reflect on notions of authority, class, empire, gender, patriotism and war, and differing perceptions and attitudes to how history is made and viewed.

Radio Relay will explore historic moments in the development of radio, from the first pirate broadcast during the Easter Rising to the trench radios that were first used at the Battle of the Somme.

Artists including Graham Fagen, Paddy Bloomer, Gareth Moore, Philip Hession and Mhairi Sutherland will create new works for a nationwide programme with participation at its core. As part of a unique midsummer weekend at Belfast's ancient Giant's Ring, from 18 - 20 June 2016, visitors will be invited to work with artists to build their own lo-fi radio transmitters and make silver kites to recreate early experiments in radio antennae.

Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 NOW, said: ‘One hundred years ago this year, the First World War was entering its darkest days.

‘As the conflict entered its third year it must have felt as though the war would last forever, a sensation heightened by the intense brutality of the Battle of the Somme.

‘It is important to remember the momentous impact of the First World War in Northern Ireland as well as mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.’

Taking place between 22 March and 18 November across the UK, 14-18 NOW's 2016 programme explores themes such as the changing role of women, the treatment of conscientious objectors and the contribution of Asian soldiers.

Highlights of the 2016 season across the UK include:

  • Africa Express presents the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music with guest performance by Damon Albarn at the Royal Festival Hall (25 June).
  • Fashion & Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery sees Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda and others create new designs inspired by the changing role of women during the First World War, and the impact this had on fashions of the time (13 May – 27 November).
  • A major new work by Yinka Shonibare at Turner Contemporary explores how new alliances forged in WW1 changed British society forever (22 March – 30 October).
  • Dr Blighty (24-29 May) is an ambitious large-scale event that looks at the untold stories of the men who travelled from India to fight in WW1, created by Nutkhut for Brighton Festival.
  • A large-scale new outdoor work by Rebecca Warren will be the highlight of The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics at the Henry Moore Institute, an exhibition on the impact the First World War had on our understanding of the body and the developments of prosthetics (21 July – 23 October).
  • World premiere of In Parenthesis, Iain Bell’s opera inspired by David Jones epic poem, co-commissioned with Welsh National Opera (from 13 May).
  • New poetry by Simon Armitage reflecting on the Somme, presented as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
  • A new large-scale work by composer David Lang will engage professional and amateur singers across the UK, premiering at the East Neuk Festival (2 July).
  • Dazzle Ship Scotland – the fourth in the series of dazzle ships – will see Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips "dazzle" the MV Fingal in Leith (from May).

14-18 NOW’s 2014 season reached 19 million people across the UK and included LIGHTS OUT marking the actual centenary of the outbreak of war, Letter to an Unknown Soldier, and the Dazzle ships.

14-18 NOW is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 14-18 NOW is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums.

14-18 NOW would like to acknowledge their partnership with the BBC on projects in the 2016 season.

For details of the full programme please see www.1418now.org.uk

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