Wine Soak no. 14: The greatest challenge yet

Our Wine Correspondent Jakob Ligvine Creek after being run over by a bicycle on the Grand Canal towpath found himself being consoled with several glasses of Domaine de Condamine de l’eveque Syrah at the opening of Curator Paul Hallahan’s group exhibition ‘a lamb lies down’ in Broadstone studios. Then suddenly, out of the blue, he received his greatest challenge yet. Six openings in one night… and they said it couldn’t be done!

On Wednesday evening last I took a postprandial stroll along the bank of the Grand Canal. I was looking into the dark waters on what was a cloudy and moonless night. The calm black surface of the canal produced no reflections. I cast my eye along the bank following the canal west to where it disappeared beyond the next bridge and lock gate. I was filled with a yearning to go west by water, to take a barge all the way to the Shannon and then to Limerick. I mused that I could go all the way there, next April, to arrive at the opening ceremony of the eva international biennial. I imagined an entire flotilla filled with joyous revellers disseminating their joyous creativity throughout the journey, each one filled with anticipation for what lay ahead in the mecca of visual arts: the eva international biennial. I was lost in my reverie until, suddenly without warning, I was knocked off my feet and sent crashing to the ground. If it weren’t for my well insulated posterior upon which I had landed I’m sure I’d have been hospitalised for a considerable duration. I had been run over by a bicycle! A reckless young artist whom I shall not name (you know who you are!) claimed he hadn’t seen me in the darkness under the trees. After hurling many expletives at him I asked where he had been cycling to in search a hurry. He told me he was going to an opening in the Broadstone studios barely a stone’s throw from where we were standing. “Lead on” I demanded, needing a drink to calm my nerves and cool my temper.

The ex-nanny’s home on Harcourt Terrace is now home to Broadstone artists’ studios and there was an opening taking place for an exhibition of artists curated by Paul Hallahan. There were works by several artists distributed throughout a large ground floor room with the most delightfully overwhelming carpet. In particular Vanessa Donoso Lopez’s tower of rickety tables surmounted by a strange animal doll in multiple bell jars was terrifying in its precariousness. It didn’t help that I had plied myself with several glasses of Domaine de Condamine de l’eveque Syrah and I was getting a bit precarious myself. Guilhem Bascou’s Domaine de Condamine de l’eveque is a product of Languedoc and comes from an area of vineyards stretching to the west of Pézenas a terroir that is marked by irises and olive trees. I could almost feel them swaying as I sucked down the musky, heavy, red liquid.

I was looking at a series of photographs by Jonathan Mayhew and I couldn’t tell if it was me or the photos but they seemed a little out of focus. I had just been in an accident and it is possible that there was a mild concussion adding to the sense of instability. I struck up a conversation with Lee Welch and Mark McGreevy two other artists in the show and they told me of the great night of openings that could be in store for an art and wine maniac like myself on Thursday, the following night. Apparently there were six openings on in one night. SIX! I couldn’t believe it. Ella de Burca who also joined the conversation, and discerned the twinkle in my eye, declared, “You’ll never make all six and get a drink in each one, not in one night. If you do I’ll buy you a pint.” To which I replied, “You owe me a pint.” After draining the dregs from the Domaine de Condamine de l’eveque, literally chewing them like chewing tobacco, we went on to engage in all sorts of revels in the bars of the area until the wee hours. But I never forgot the challenge that was echoing through my mind. “You’ll never make all six.”

A little after six pm, the following evening, I walked through the doors of The Flood Gallery to be greeted by a cool refreshing bottle of beer and an exhibition humorously called The year of the flood named after a novel my Margaret Atwood about a group of disaster survivors. The space was filled with an extra-ordinary collection of unusual objects and peculiar video pieces. Each artwork had the random sense of a survivor washed up like the flotsam and jetsam thrown up by a terrible sea storm. Every piece as fascinating as the next, carrying their individual stories of survival and hope. I ran into David Eager-Maher who had been present at the declaration of the challenge the night before and when I told him of my plan to see all six shows and have a drink in each venue he just shook his head and said “you’ll never make it, it’s impossible.” Without being deterred I decided to march on to the next venue the Dublin City Council art space The Lab.

In the Lab I was confounded by Mark Durkan’s glamorous extravagance of mirrors, lights, bowls of dry ice and the intimidating figure of a performer dressed in riot gear, carrying a bow and arrow. The balaclava and riot helmet made the living sculpture very sinister but the mirrored pedestal added a sense of the kind of kitsch that one might associate with a Russian oligarch’s taste in interior design. Water bubbled from a fountain-like shower head surrounded by mirrors and was echoed by urns that were oozing with dry ice, diffused blue light and tiny bubbling fountains. The title of the show: I’m astonished, wall, that you haven’t collapsed into ruins, takes its name from graffiti in Pompeii, the ancient Roman town preserved by the eruption and subsequent ash from Vesuvius. The work presented an artificial world full of tension. Its overwhelming reflective unreality felt like it could implode upon itself at any given moment. I needed a drink! I ran upstairs to get a glass of the red wine. I threw it back without even caring what it was. I took another one. It was red and wet and alcoholic…it was good. Upstairs by the bar Seamus McCormack’s solo show Spike, an Overlay that reflects on theatrical illusions of performance and the parameters that guide those movements. Like Pirandello’s six characters in search of an author McCormack’s work tries to peer through the mirror presented by our world of self-reflexive performance to reveal the meta-theatre of being. Considering my own performance I glanced at the time and I had already wasted 40 minutes. I grabbed another glass and ran, ran, ran!

Running up the stairs and making an awful clatter I burst into the Talbot Gallery in the middle of the speeches. All Man: the Show curated by Linda Phelan was exploring themes of masculinity in a world where the traditional roles of men in society have become uncertain. Emasculation or liberation? What does the contemporary world offer men today? All I wanted was someone to offer me a drink!!! Thankfully the speeches ended and I got to the bar and had a chat with Elaine Grainger, she was offering an Italian red wine, 2012 Monepulciano D’Abruzzo and two whites, an Italian, Ca’Del Lago 2012 Inzolia and El Chugaro a Spanish wine. Such choice! I settled for the red but alas I had no time to appreciate the art. I had a quick look at the work of Mathew Nevin, an image of a head of stubble that incorporated a sound work. Unfortunately I had no time to listen. Elaine asked me was I going to the RHA, my next point of call by bicycle, “Alas no” I replied and I dashed out the door. My natural phobia of bicycles had not been helped by the previous night’s calamity on the canal bank.

In a complete tizzy I finally made it to the Douglas Hyde as Michael Hill was instructing the man with the tray of wine to stop serving I had to reach over his shoulder quite ignominiously, apologising as I did so, shouting, “its ok, it’s a challenge, it’s for a bet, a sort of gentleman’s agreement!” I saw Declan Long there engrossed in conversation so I just gave his arm a tug to say “Hi and bye I have to run, run, run!” A quick glance around revealed large exquisite paintings of denuded trees in urban settings and empty landscapes with extraordinary coloured skyscapes. They were the work of George Shaw and the exhibition is capriciously titled Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow.

It was gone seven thirty. All would be over soon and I had to get to two more venues before the wine ran out. The openings closed at 8pm. Time was literally running out, as was the wine!
I sprinted to the Kerlin, at this stage I had no idea what the wine was but I was lucky there was one solitary glass left on a serving tray. It was a white wine of some description. At his stage it no longer mattered. I threw it back. I had a quick word with Francis Halsall and Lily Cahill. Very much to my shame I started to do impressions of the flash as I tried to channel the comic book superhero’s velocity to get me to the end of my goal. I had less than ten minutes to get from Anne’s Lane to my final destination, the RHA.

Lickity split and I was out the door moving faster than a blur, the streets of Dublin rushed by in a fizz and a pop. I made it. I just got in the door of the RHA with seconds to spare. But oh despair! There was no wine left. Having come so far. After all that effort was I going to fail at the final hurdle, collapse at the last fence. No I couldn’t let it happen like this. I desperately tried to spy a familiar face of someone that still had some wine left in their glass. I approached Maeve Connolly, Elenor Duffin, Neil Carroll, no one had any wine left….

And then… Eureka! The day was saved by none other than Pádraic E. Moore. When I explained my desperate situation he gladly surrendered what was left of his white wine. It turned out to be a Santa Cruz Alba, Sauvignon Blanc 2013. Such joy! I had won the bet. It could be done after all. As I was dancing around in celebration, I saw Maggie Madden looking on with a worried expression. I hadn’t even noticed her beautiful and fragile sculpture right beside me. My desperate search for that last mouthful of wine had blinded me from my surroundings completely. Astonished I looked around at the spectacular artworks in the exhibition Futures 13. I was astounded and amazed, so amazed in fact that when I bumped into Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll I demanded her last mouthful of wine to steady myself and declare a total victory. It turned out to be Santa Cruz Alba, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. The after party was in Doheney and Nesbitts pub on Baggot Street, where we enjoyed platters of food and many, many, pints. As I was gladly becoming fused to the bar, from across the crowd, at the other end of the room, I heard Peter Prendergast of Monster Truck shouting at me, “I’m coming on your boat! The boat to eva.” Strangely my dreams were starting to become reality as a nice creamy pint of Guinness was placed before me upon the bar.

Invited Artists “a lamb lies down” curated by Paul Hallahan runs from November 14 – 30 2013 at Broadstone Artists’ Studios.
The Year of the Flood: Michelle Browne / Mike Cooter / Benjamin De Burca / Tom Fitzgerald / Zoe Fothergill / Clea van der Grijn / Mark McGreevy. Curated by Michele Horrigan runs from the 14th November – 7th December 2013 at the Flood Gallery.
Mark Durkan / I’m astonished, wall, that you haven’t collapsed into ruins and Séamus McCormack / Spike, an overlay runs from 15th November 2013 – 25th January 2014 at the LAB
ALL MAN: THE SHOW Curated by Lynda Phelan runs from Nov 14th – Nov 30th 2013 at the Talbot Gallery
George Shaw “Neither My Arse Nor My Elbow” runs from 15 November – 15 January 2014 at the Douglas Hyde Gallery
Paul Winstanley Art School runs from 15th November 2013 – 7th January 2014 at The Kerlin Gallery
Futures 2013 runs from November 15, 2013 – December 20, 2013 at the RHA Gallery