Tuesday, September 20, 2022

THE official launch of the Imagine Arts festival took place last Friday night in the cavernous, haunting surrounds of Christ Church Cathedral. Marking her inaugural year as the director of the Imagine Arts festival, Sarah Jane Cleary hosted a night like no other. Renowned singer, songwriter and author Declan O’Rourke performed for the audience at the ticketed event, while internationally recognised visual artist, Gottfried Helnwein spoke about his unique relationship with Waterford. Also speaking at the launch were Eugene Broderick, Metropolitan Mayor, Cllr. Jason Murphy, and myself, Dymphna Nugent.

Gottfried Helnwein, Declan O’Rourke, Sarah Jane Cleary, Dominique Ellickson, Metropolitan Mayor of Waterford Cllr Jason Murphy, and Dymphna Nugent, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

 

The launch gave the audience a full breakdown of the festival which runs from October 25 until October 30 in Waterford incorporating Heritage, Visual Arts, Performance, Literature, Music, and a Children’s programme of events. Waterford will play host to authors such as Aingeala Flannery, David Toms, Megan Nolan, and Lani O’Hanlon, while Waterford’s connection with Newfoundland will be explored, and firm favourites like Booze, Blaas will be back.

Friday’s audience members were treated to a very rare and special event set against the stunning backdrop of the Cathedral with it’s vaulted ceiling and intricate details. Declan O’Rourke rendered the audience utterly silent as he spoke of his personal connection to the famine workhouses, the heartbreak at realising that families were separated once they entered the building, and the story of his own family who left the workhouse to return home to their roofless abode to die in each other’s arms.

Gottfried Helnwein thanked the people of Waterford sincerely for allowing he and his wife, Renate to live in Waterford and to be in a position to have called it home for 25 years. A very touching moment saw Gottfried reunite with Mollie Gaffney, whose likeness hung on the flour mills on the North Quays for many years following the Fringe Festival in 2008.

It was an evening of reconnection following such a long period of separation for everyone, and a reminder of the importance which the arts and creativity bring with regard to hope and looking forwards. The audience was filled with a sea of faces synonymous with the arts in Waterford, from John Palmer to the entire English department of SETU. There was an unrivalled sense of togetherness which lent a feeling of an intimate concert, rather than a commercial launch. Sarah Jane is a fiercely proud Waterford woman, and she urged everyone present to tell their friends, their neighbours and their families that booking for all events is open on the Imagine Arts website.

Erti Berisba and Mollie Gaffney, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Ann Cusack and Fiona Cusack, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Pictured at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Gottfried Helnwein , at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Pictured at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Donal Nolan and Dara Jane O’Sullivan, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Sarah Jane Cleary and Caoilfhionn Hanton, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Maebhe Kenneally, Geraldine Kenneally, Nora Boland and Les Warren,, at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

Pictured at Christ Church Cathedral for the launch of Imagine Festival. Photo: Joe Evans

 

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