Two writers, a composer and a playwright, have each been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIA), worth £15,000 each, from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the highest honour bestowed by the body responsible for the development of the arts in the region.
The recipients of the prestigious awards, given in recognition of the contribution each of the artists has made to creative life in Northern Ireland, includes writers Malachi O’Doherty and Rosemary Jenkinson, composer, Ed Bennett and playwright, Carol Moore. The awards, funded through National Lottery, make it possible for these artists to produce a substantial, ambitious project that will make a significant contribution to the development of their artistic careers.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“Congratulations to these four immensely talented artists who have already made an enormous contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland. Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these innovative new projects with the financial backing they need to produce work of lasting value. This award will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland both home and abroad.”
Each of the artists will now use the award to develop a series of new works.
Carol Moore, who has worked in the creative industries for 40 years as an actor, theatre director, filmmaker and drama facilitator, will use her Major Individual Artist Award to produce and premiere her new play The Experience of Being. The play is a response to Carol turning 60 in 2016 and is a challenge to the ageism that is endemic in society. It particularly focuses on the stereotyping of older women and its negative impact, but it ultimately offers a message that is positive and life-affirming. The play has been in development since 2017, workshopping with associate artists Peter Sheridan, choreographer, Oona Doherty, and composer, Conor Mitchell, while Carol was Artist in Residence at the Mac Theatre. The new play will be produced by An Griánan Theatre, Letterkenny, directed by Patrick J. O’Reilly with a music score by Conor Mitchell and the play will premiere in the Grand Opera House’s Baby Grand Studio in 2019.
Award-winning playwright, short-story writer and the 2017 Artist-in-Residence at the Lyric Theatre, Rosemary Jenkinson, will use her Major Individual Award award to write a memoir. The new work is inspired by the artist’s identity, family, her upbringing during the Troubles, her background as a female writer, and the writer’s life experiences as a self-imposed exile in England and abroad. The project is an opportunity for Rosemary to develop her considerable skills in prose, already evident in three acclaimed collections of short stories.
Composer, Ed Bennett, whose body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film, will use his Major Individual Award to create ‘Return’. ‘Return’ is a substantial trilogy of inter-related compositions for soloists, amplified ensemble and electronic media. These will be ambitious, immersive works which take as their starting point early phonograph field recordings of Irish traditional song and will each explore narrative, poetic and geographical aspects of the original song material. The project will culminate with performances in London, Dublin, Belfast, Amsterdam and Birmingham and also with the release of a new portrait CD featuring the completed works on the prestigious NMC label.
Writer, Malachi O’Doherty will use his award to write Nivedita and Me, a book about interweaving the story of Margaret Noble (b 1867 Dungannon) who travelled to India in 1895 and became a disciple of the Swami Vivekananda with his own story of his time as a disciple in India in the seventies. Malachi is an accomplished memoirist particularly in I was a Teenage Catholic and Under His Roof. From 2010-2013 Malachi O’Doherty was the BBC Louis MacNeice Writer in Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast.
The four join a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Artist award including writers, Jimmy McAleavey, Anne Devlin, Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Patricia Craig, Sinéad Morrissey, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty; playwright Shannon Sickles (Yee), performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, visual artists, Mairéad McClean, Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam and Cara Murphy; composers, Piers Hellawell, Ian Wilson, Elaine Agnew, Conor Mitchell, Deirdre McKay, musicians, Michael McHale, David Lyttle and choreographer, Oona Doherty, among others.