ArtBeat: Preserving the past, saving art from war, Cristal Palace, Translations, Green Space Dark Skies and Damien Molony

Notes and musings from the arts scene, by Jane Hardy

The cast of Brian Friel's Translations, which opens at the Lyric Theatre tonight.
Jane Hardy

IN times of war, you aim to preserve human life. But saving art matters quite a bit too as it's your cultural identity. So which of our works of art and buildings would you want to preserve?

I'd like to save the Garfield Bar and some of Belfast city centre's wonderful 19th century buildings. After all, John Betjeman dubbed Belfast the finest Victorian city in Europe.

Waldemar Januszczak, the Sunday Times art critic who happens to be Ukrainian, has been to the war zone and described how curators are bubble wrapping treasures, moving or stowing them away.

Art can even become a matter of life and death. Khaled al-Asaad, an archaeologist who dedicated his career to saving the 2,000-year-old artefacts in the Syrian city of Palmyra, was executed by IS militants engaged in their destruction.

Here, we had the Miami Showband massacre - a tragedy which inspired its own musical - but the arts tended not to be the target during the Troubles; Mr Carson remained intact outside Stormont, and it was pubs and bookmakers that were on the hit list.

This weekend you can boogie under a giant chandelier at Cristal Palace, a celebration of the Belfast International Arts Festival in the Titanic quarter - expect grandeur, an airborne orchestra, acrobatics, the whole shebang. Well, you have to do something special when you turn 60.

Or you can head for the Lyric Theatre and one of Brian Friel's best plays. Do we really need another Translations? Yes.

As a professor told me at uni, great plays and books can be experienced more than once because we change. So do the times themselves. With Irish borders under intense scrutiny, this Abbey Theatre co-production, directed by Caitriona McLaughlin, should be interesting.

A new artistic initiative highlighting nature is coming to the UK. Heading Green Space Dark Skies ( in Northern Ireland, Kathy Hayes reveals the locations are kept secret but that the events are filmed and streamed. She says the idea is to encourage us to look after the environment. Alongside acrobats, dancers and musicians will be participants, cutely named lumenators, holding low impact geo lights. Apply for the June 25 Sperrins and early July Causeway events via the website.

Line of Duty, featuring the magnificent Adrian Dunbar, has featured in a spoof anti-Tory video for Led by Donkeys. Boris Johnson is hauled up for questioning; as the accusations pile up, the PM squirms and is savaged by the team in what's called Operation Rotting Fish. "You must think we were born yesterday, fella." Hastings growls.

And finally... I love a good TV crossover spot. The delectable Damien Molony who's played a blinder as Tyler in The Split, is now exciting Derry Girls - or rather Erin's Ma - as Gabriel the plumber.

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