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Hello and welcome.
All the cultural craic we can fit into half an hour,
and this is what's coming up
in the next 30 minutes.
Do not touch that zapper.
Coming up, comic and cartoonist
Phill Jupitus channels
his inner Michelangelo.
Irish director Neil Jordan
on Cruise, Pitt, Rea
and why nobody believes he is also a writer.
Not a wig or a fake tan in sight -
the former Riverdancer taking Irish dance a step further.
And a design for life -
cutting and splicing pop culture
and politics onto the one page.
But first, the art that blew the mind
of the one and only Sir Bob Geldof.
The first music that electrified me
was the Rolling Stones.
I saw the Beatles and the Stones and Dylan
in the same year, in the Adelphi Cinema in Dublin.
I just wanted to be in that gang, you know? They were a gang.
And also, their attitude, you know?
That sort of insolence, I really liked.
Coming into my teens, I was,
of course, you know, a sort of...an existentialist,
of course, as only teens can possibly be.
But I did like those books.
I know it sounds wanky, but I'm not trying to be...
I had them, they were around, so...
One I remember that vividly was
A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn.
In fact, I think he pitches up in one of the Rats' songs.
Yeah, they really, um...
..made much more of an impact than any other thing except music.
Films that have really made me think
are standards like Apocalypse Now.
In fact, I think the Rats were on tour in Canada.
We had a night off
and we were in Edmonton and we saw it,
I think, the first week it came out,
and I remember coming out of the cinema
and all of us were silent
and a row started amongst us and, like, it was almost a punch-up.
There was that much tension,
coming out of the...out of that film.
You know, like everybody else, so many great films,
so many books, so many songs, you know?
It's hard to pick.
Luckily, I had three priests
in a row in school
who could actually read poetry,
properly read poetry, as opposed to...
-"I wandered lonely as a cloud...
They read it and it seemed to make...huge sense to me,
in the same way that rock and roll did.
And so when one of the priests,
we had to do Paradise Lost, Milton's Paradise Lost,
and he read it, and it just blew me away,
cos it's kind of difficult English, but beautiful.
When he explained that, you know, Satan was equal to God
and he challenged him and God said,
"I don't think so, dude, kneel down."
"Kneel down? I don't think so!"
So here, you've got this kid, me, our era of this music,
just saying, "Authority? I don't think so."
And the Boomtown Rats play the Mandela Hall on March 24th.
Well, he may not like Mondays,
but he certainly never minded the Buzzcocks.
Phill Jupitus is an actor and comedian,
but he is also a cartoonist.
Welcome to the Ulster Museum.
-With a passion for drawing.
Yeah. I mean, picked the right exhibition as well, haven't we?
Rather than finished work, we're here with Lines Of Thought.
Which is who... I mean, this is basically...
We need to stress how unique this exhibition is.
Ulster Museum is only one of three venues
that this British Museum touring exhibition is coming to.
It's finished here - saved the best till last.
Two hot months, kids. Get down here, fast.
And who's here?
-Oh, no, you mean the drawings?
-The drawings, yeah.
We've got Rembrandt over there. We've got some Leonardo da Vinci.
We've got some Michelangelo.
There is a David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth...
Can I get a "Barbara Hepworth" in the house?
This is the most impressive single room of art
I think I've ever been in in my life, and I, madam, am 54.
I've seen a lot of rooms full of art -
some great ones, some brilliant ones -
and this is the best.
The great myth about art is that it's some...
It's like magic, it's some sort of ability, and they just...
-HE BLOWS RASPBERRY
-And it's on the page and it's done,
but it's not. There's a lot of...
A lot of "agh" goes into creating art.
A lot of thought and torture.
What you're seeing on the wall is ideas, sort of, in motion,
as it were.
You are sketching as well.
-But on an iPad.
What are you seeing, then? What are you taking in?
What you're doing is you're engaging with a piece of work
for an extended period of time, and so you're seeing brushstrokes,
you're seeing detail, you're seeing composition,
but you're...you're then replicating them,
and so in the replication,
I think there's an extra layer of...
..of information, if not comprehension.
I think you are certainly seeing more and you're seeing deeper.
It was brilliant when I arrived today, and this was, sort of,
the opening day of the exhibition.
There were about eight people drawing the stuff that
was on the wall, which was very gratifying to see,
that that's the way people react to this stuff,
to copy what other artists were doing.
But you're not formally trained as an artist.
You didn't go to art school or any of this.
-None of it.
But you can see your passion.
The thing is when I'm doing it in galleries,
'and people are welcome to come and chat to me when I do it,
'I do it at the Edinburgh Festival every year
'and I started doing it there for two reasons -
'first, because...what a brilliant way to start your day,
'to spend two hours with a beautiful piece of art,
'just drawing, you know?
'It's a very restful, kind of, zen start to your day.'
And the other reason was it stopped me going out drinking at night.
If I knew I had to be up at eight o'clock and in a gallery by nine,
you can't go out on the lash.
So that was my...
It's more of a self-control system that benefits me cerebrally.
Can you choose a favourite out of all that are on the walls here?
What happened yesterday, when I first came,
was I kind of did this, sort of, weird crab walk,
where I was going sideways, so I wasn't polluting myself
by seeing what was coming,
so I was going sideways around, and I kept going...
When you're going from, like,
a Bridget Riley to a Michelangelo, you just...
-You can't believe...
You know, and it's over by the Seurat,
the David Hockneys by the Seurat,
That kept happening. But a favourite here,
there is Leonardo's drawing of Christ with a cat.
There is a frame of him holding the cat, the cat is quite playful,
but then there is one above it of Jesus holding a cat,
and the cat is trying...
But it's a still drawing, but this cat is all over the shop.
-You can feel that.
-Yeah, yeah. It's just, it's just...
That Leonardo cartoon, I never laughed at that,
but that cat drawing, that's funny.
That's how far ahead of his time he was.
He knew that that's what people would look at on YouTube.
He just does cat drawings. That's... What he does is...
If you really want stuff to take off,
that was it - pop a cat in it.
I mean, people now are Photoshopping
cats into the Last Supper.
Phill Jupitus, it has been a pleasure.
-Yes, thank you.
And if Phill's sketches have got you creatively curious,
and you fancy getting busy with a brush yourself,
don't be shy - you too can get creative
on Saturday, April 8th,
from stitching in Strabane
to painting pots in Portstewart,
there are events happening
right across Northern Ireland,
with the main events happening
in the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry/Londonderry
and right here in the Ulster Museum.
Our next guest is probably best known
as one of Ireland's foremost movie directors,
the man behind titles such as Interview With The Vampire,
The Crying Game, Michael Collins,
The Company Of Wolves and Mona Lisa.
Neil Jordan, however, has also enjoyed
a long and successful career as a writer,
predating his directing days,
with titles including The Drowned Detective,
Mistaken and Night In Tunisia.
His latest novel Carnivalesque,
a dark coming-of-age tale set in a supernatural circus,
is out now.
-Neil Jordan, you are very welcome to The Arts Show.
Carnivalesque - where did that idea come from?
For a long time, I'd been thinking about making a movie about
a carnival or a circus
that had supernatural abilities, you know?
So they actually had to hide their physical, kind of, talents.
They had to hide the fact that
they didn't have to obey physical laws, you know?
I was wondering, were these people from space or where were they from?
Were they from another planet? You know, that kind of thing.
So I just began to write the story.
I've always wanted to write a piece of total fantasy, you know,
set in...you know, in an Irish context,
and in the context of the spooky stories
my father used to tell me.
But that idea of the pookas and the banshees and...
Yeah, the idea of actually a race of people that took advantage
of all these bloody legends, know what I mean?
The more I explored it, the more, you know...
The more complicated and more interesting it became, really.
So why is...
Because you've almost got, like, a dual life, you know?
You're Neil Jordan, the fiction writer.
-And you're also Neil Jordan, the screenwriter and director.
-Do you see them as a dual identity? Or...?
No, they're both... I mean, I don't know how...
If you do the kind of thing I do, it's silly not to do something else.
A lot of film directors work in the theatre, you know?
And a lot of film directors like Martin Scorsese
work...does magnificent documentary work and stuff like that.
It just happens that I come from Ireland
and come from a literary tradition and background,
and that's what I started doing, you know?
So, do you see a difference in the two roles?
-Or do you see yourself as...?
-As a film-maker and a novelist.
A film-maker and a novelist.
Or are you a storyteller, first and foremost?
I don't really. But it's just because...
I never thought I would get to make films, you know what I mean?
Well, if you think back to the '70s, I mean,
Irish people didn't make movies, you know? They just didn't.
There was no Irish cinema,
and it was only when I started to write movies
and when I met John Boorman, actually,
and began to work with him on Excalibur
and another script or two that we wrote together,
that I began to see that it's possible
for someone like me to perhaps do this kind of thing.
Jordan began his directing career on the self-penned Angel in 1982 -
a story about a musician played by a young Stephen Rea
who witnesses a murder and tracks down the killers.
Come on, come on!
So, Angel comes along then, and you've written it and...
Well, I wrote Angel, yeah.
A wrote the script for Angel and, for some reason,
they let me direct that movie.
It was kind of a terrifying experience,
but I had a great cameraman, Chris Menges, and...
I hadn't got a clue about how cameras worked
or anything like that, you know what I mean?
But I had a very clear vision in my mind
about what I wanted to see.
I just wanted to present this series of murders and killings
and the attraction of...the horrible attraction of that kind of thing
in the barest...
Without any explanations whatsoever, you know?
So I made this rather strange and spare movie
and people liked it, you know?
And it got quite a bit of acclaim.
Was that the first time you'd worked with Stephen Rea?
Yeah, it was, yeah.
I'd seen Stephen in the Abbey, in a play that was actually
directed by Jim Sheridan,
called The Blue Macushla written by Tom Murphy.
And he was really cool and I thought, "This guy is good."
So when I did Angel, I asked him to act in it, and, you know,
we developed a relationship after that.
This relationship would continue
with one of Jordan's biggest international successes,
The Crying Game, for which he won
the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1992.
It's recently celebrated its 25th year.
Does that surprise you, that it still stands the test of time?
I rarely watch the films that I do,
but BFI brought out a beautifully restored version of it, actually.
I watched it in the BFI and it was cool, really good.
It's stood the test of time, except there is far more awareness,
now, of gender issues and...
The success of The Crying Game led to Jordan being offered
one of the biggest directing gigs in Hollywood at the time -
the movie adaptation of Anne Rice's novel
Interview With The Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.
Were you making it for a market?
I mean, did you suddenly find yourself...?
I was making it for my friends.
I said, "I'll make it if you allow me to make it
"as an independent movie."
And they said yes, you know? So I said, "OK, I'll do that".
You know... So, it was a big, huge thing.
What, 70 million movie?
But there was no interference whatsoever, you know?
It was extraordinary.
Particularly with the stars that they're giving you.
I mean, they are handing you Tom Cruise...
Or are they handing you Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt?
Or are you still having to say,
"Look, I want them to audition for these roles"?
Oh, no. Oh, you don't ask Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt to audition for roles.
No, you don't.
Maybe if you're Stanley Kubrick, you do, or you did.
But no, no, no.
No, Tom expressed interest in the role.
I went out to meet him.
I mean, Brad was attached.
At the time, they wanted Daniel Day Lewis
to play Tom Cruise's role.
And I said, "Look, there is no way Mr Lewis, Daniel,
"is going to play this role."
Cos he would never survive six months in a coffin anyway,
cos that's what he does, you know?
-But I went to meet Tom and I thought,
he's got a really interesting character for this...
He's got a really interesting quality, you know?
And the description,
the kind of character description that Anne Rice had given of Lestat,
was almost like the description of a star, you know,
who is at a certain remove from life, and stuff like that.
I just thought Tom... I've always liked Tom as an actor, you know?
And I thought he'd be great, you know?
But I was dealing with Tom and Brad and they were kind of interesting,
that was interesting, but I was let make the movie I wanted to make.
The global success of the movie empowered Jordan
to follow it up with a long-cherished personal project -
his self-penned biopic of Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson.
Other major talent he's directed include Robert De Niro and Sean Penn
and Cillian Murphy.
He's recently branched into long-form big budget TV drama
with yet another self-penned project, the Borgias,
starring Jeremy Irons.
Does it rankle with you that Neil Jordan the novelist
-never gets as big a profile...
-..as Neil Jordan the film director?
Well, it's just... It's something I don't fully understand. It's...
You know, people just are surprised that I ever...
you know, that I ever wrote novels, you know?
It's just the way things are. Nothing I can do about it, you know?
-Neil Jordan, it has been a pleasure talking to you.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you. Thank you very much.
Whether it be his trademark mashup of images and text,
political commentary or, here, covering 27 metres of hoarding
in the Botanic Gardens while restoration work is carried out,
Belfast-based illustrator Peter Strain
is making a massive impact in the world of illustration.
We thought we would catch up with him while we still can.
Illustration kind of does always fall in between
the fine art world and the graphic design world.
Words and images have always been really interesting to me,
so I try and find a way of merging the two,
in, you know, hopefully quite an original way.
# I've been awake for so long now
# Just can't get to sleep... #
At its best, illustration does help us,
kind of, comprehend the world around us.
You know, it tries to...
It tries to make sense of...
You know, a chaos of information, it's trying to make sense of.
Big fan of Conor O'Brien, and his...
you know, his band, the Villagers.
I was lucky enough to be asked to make
a cover sleeve for the live album,
which, a lot of that was to do with some homophobic experiences
Conor had before,
and I kind of wanted this artwork to sort of reflect that
in some ways, but kind of in a...
you know, a little bit, sort of, not really in-your-face.
So, the idea is, this guy has been chased up to his wits' end,
and kind of like, a fight or flight kind of thing -
you know, you either stand up to somebody
or you give in to the type of thing that they're...
You know, whatever they're, kind of, accusing you of, or whatever,
you can either make your stand or fall back,
so, the kind of idea of this character
is that he's taken that leap
and, you know, it's kind of worked out for the best.
He hasn't, sort of, plummeted, he's soared.
# Oh, Lord
# A hot, scary summer... #
A fine artist doesn't necessarily
have to communicate a specific message,
whereas, more often than not, illustration does have to do that.
It has to, kind of, articulate something -
it has to communicate something.
With what's, kind of, happened with Brexit,
and what's happening with Donald Trump and things in the States,
you can see a lot of people reacting and using illustration
as, kind of, a medium to get their ideas and thoughts out there.
With Shepard Fairey's Hope poster design for Obama,
that was something that he made independently.
It wasn't commissioned by any advisers or anything like that.
That was something that was made, and then it became this big symbol.
That style of imagery became iconic even overnight.
Certainly, somebody who's working a lot now,
and people are really loving the style, is Noma Bar, who does...
very, very simplistic kind of vector drawings,
using maybe two or three, kind of, icons
and then making them into something new.
That stuff is really, really fantastic.
I suppose, style-wise,
maybe, my work can be a little bit more intricate and things,
but the same sort of principles apply,
of trying to only really use what's necessary to get a point across.
The work with the QFT came about...
I made about seven or eight of those,
just based on films that I like,
things that I thought would, kind of, suit my style and tone,
and a lot of that has then
kind of filtered into the work that I do now -
for example, using type to make up body shapes and things -
that was all, kind of, figured out when making those posters.
The portraits of the words and things either built into the body
or placed around it, within the negative space,
I think that, kind of, serves a nice purpose
of A, having a portrait done in that kind of style,
but then, also, the words kind of give it
that extra little bit of meaning to it, maybe, or...
You can kind of pepper words around,
and kind of make it even more ambiguous, as well,
so, you can kind of have that dual effect,
dependent on what it's going to be used for.
One of the things I always try to do as much as possible
is to have a really strong sense of a composition and space.
So, if at all possible, I like to have a lot of white space,
or blank space in and around,
so that the visual information is, kind of, contained within something,
cos then you, kind of, have a hierarchy of graphics
that are working,
and I think that, kind of, makes for a lot more compelling piece.
There's a lot of visual information out there,
and there is always going to be kind of an overlap, I guess.
I suppose the key thing for any illustrator or artist, I guess,
is to try and put as much of your own personality into the work
as you possibly can, and then at least that element
certainly can't be replicated in any way.
The Waterworks Park.
What do I bring home from the Waterworks Park where I walk daily?
The same as I leave behind.
Voices of waterfowl with a lot to say,
all of it in the original.
The way water lies always at the right level.
The heron, because of his presence -
the heron because of his absence.
The fishing club,
camouflaged in their little tents like a territorial army.
The half-flight of swans dragging their feet in the water.
The children pitching crusts into the dangerous storm of rings.
The undisturbable silence of the football stadium between matches.
The freewheeling of the Milewater stream
towards its modest white-water tumble.
The flattest sound in the universe - the slap of joggers' feet.
The voices of immigrant women
pushing their prams through a new country.
The waterlilies, the bulrushes, the greening sedge.
The thought of how one place can furnish your head and your heart.
Once more I embark on the half-hour voyage in a circle -
the inexhaustible mile.
When the mighty jiggernaut that is Riverdance
exploded onto the world stage in the mid-1990s,
it changed the face of Irish dance forever -
and now, one of its former principal dancers
is challenging what we think we know about this art form.
Contemporary dance is misunderstood.
There is a mystique around it that isn't necessary.
Perhaps the dancers, or the dance-makers themselves,
in some way make it inaccessible -
and I wish, in a way,
that we would do that less and less.
Movement is very, very powerful,
and if you can frame it in some sort of theatrical setting,
it can have a huge, provocative impact on the observer.
So, people talk about when you engage with dance,
is there something you should understand?
and I keep saying, "It's not a puzzle that we work out."
It is abstract.
I'm not meant to try to categorise this.
It's about its impact on me.
I didn't initially set out to be a dancer.
In fact, when I was going to dancing class,
there wasn't really an option to have a career in Irish dance,
but then Riverdance came along in '94...
..which eventually led on to a show,
and that's when my professional life as a dancer took off.
In 2003, I retired from dancing.
I left a very commercial world,
and then I suddenly found myself in the contemporary arts platform.
Sometimes something comes along,
and you say you have to make this for you,
and I knew that I had to dance for myself.
Linger came about because myself and Breandan have worked together
for a number of years.
Our personal stories, outside of dance and outside of our careers...
were quite similar - turned out to be quite similar.
Coming from a very small village, being an Irish dancer,
being an Irish speaker, being gay, all these things...
made me feel kind of like...
that I wasn't sure who I was to identify with.
Linger... In the early sections of Linger,
I try to address the idea of people constructing identities for you
and projecting those identities on you, and you living up to that.
Regardless of who you are,
you resonate with whatever's unfolding on stage -
but you'll come at it with your own history
as you arrive in the room
to consume this piece of art -
but there are two dancers,
two entities at different points of their lives.
What we're doing with Linger is quite new and exciting,
and a new movement within Irish dance.
Hopefully, within 20 years,
it may have moved on to the next level.
The form itself has so much dramatic and poetic potential
to look outside of the box
and not follow the presentation formats of the past -
just explore all the options.
And that's it from The Arts Show.
Do stay in touch with us - @bbcartshow on Twitter, and online
on the BBC Northern Ireland Arts home page.
There's loads to see and hear,
and, of course, we're on BBC Radio Ulster
Tuesdays to Fridays at 6.30, so, basically, you can't miss us.
Until next month, bye-bye.