TV Watch with Dave O’Connell
If you met Jeremy Sloane in your local pub, you’d suddenly remember that you had to go home and wash what’s left of your hair – because he’s the sort of hapless, hopeless character who could suck out of you all of your will to live.
And yet this anti-hero of sorts is understandably a big hit with satellite viewers, who are tuning into Mr Sloane on Sky Atlantic in their droves.
The creation of Shaun of the Dead star Nick Frost, this comedy is set in a suburb of Watford at the end of the swinging sixties – a swing which Sloane appears to have missed in its entirety, given that he looks more like a relic from the war years.
He’s full of figure, wears heavy black spectacles and a mac; he could be mistaken for a boring civil servant every day of the week, but it reality his life is falling apart at the seams.
His wife Janet (played by the wonderful Olivia Coleman, star of just about everything these days – from Broadchurch to Rev to Twenty Twelve – has left him and he’s just just lost his job.
His social life revolves around the pub every night with his three best mates from childhood, Ross (Peter Serafinowicz), Reggie (Brendan Patricks) and Beans (Lawry Lewin), who have as much sympathy for his plight as Manchester City fans had for David Moyes.
Sloane is also a dreamer and he truly wants to make his life better, even if it keeps dragging him back into the mire.
He subscribes to ‘self-help’ cassettes – the big old eight-track things that arrive in brown paper from the US – and he even imagines the start of a new life with a flirty American he meets in the hardware store, who has a problem with her u-bend under the sink.
Sloane’s happier days are depicted in flashback – his first encounter with Janet on the Tube, their wedding day, happier times in the office with his old buddy Beans who is still living at home with his mother.
Nick Frost brings a wonderful quiet quality to the role – Sloane is clearly a man who’s down on his luck and caught in a negative spiral, but he’s sympathetically played by an actor whose television appearances have been massively reduced by his big screen successes.
One man who television appearances would normally be nil at this time of the year managed to create a whole lot of headlines of his own last week with a debut appearance on BBC’s Question Time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks
Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell
When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.
Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.
In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.
On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.
With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.
“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.
“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.
“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”
Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie
‘World in a Window’ – a unique perspective of lockdown life
A new exhibition, Our World in a Window, which is currently running in Galway City, focuses on the experiences of children who have been living with long-term health conditions during lockdown
Facilitated by Helium Arts, the national children’s arts and health charity, the exhibition features animations and mechanised artwork produced by young people from across Ireland who took part in Helium’s remote programme ‘Distance Creates’.
Our World in a Window can be seen until August 4 at Galway City Library before it goes on tour to Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Longford.
Since last February, children aged 9-12 who are living with long-term health conditions have been exploring the world of animation, guided by Helium artist, Chelsea Canavan. From tinfoil and claymation characters to foam sculptures and hand-drawn illustrations, these young creators have brought their stories to life in unique and imaginative ways.
The origins of Our World in a Window date back to the beginning of Covid. That was when Helium Arts began adapting its usual in-person programmes, moving to digital and postal formats to allow vulnerable young people to be creative from the safety of their homes. The goal was to offer respite during a time of social distancing and to support the youngsters’ mental health, which is part of Helium’s brief.
In non-Covid times, Helium Arts supports sick children via arts-based projects in hospital, community and public settings. More than 5,000 children and their families have availed of its service since 2010.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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126 Gallery fundraising for new studio spaces
The artist-run 126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City, has established a satellite studio space on nearby Saint Francis Street, in response to members’ need for working spaces that are affordable, secure and easy to access. The new Barton Studios will host four studio spaces and the artists using them will have access to 126’s main facilities.
Submissions for Barton Studios and any further spaces are open to current members of 126, in recognition of those artists and creatives who have supported the members-run gallery over the past 16 years.
The group is currently raising money to fit out the studios and because normal methods such as table-quizzes and its ‘drink and draw’ nights are out of bounds, the 126 steering committee has turned to GoFundMe to try and raise €2,000, which is what they estimate it will cost.
If any extra money is raised, it will be used to subsidise the rest of costs for the studios to artists for the remainder of 2021. Some €1,800 would be needed to lower the rent to €50 per week for each artist. A breakdown of all costs will be posted on 126gallery.com and made available to donors.
Initially, the studios will have a communal computer, a private workspace with wi-fi, and access to all resources at 126’s main facility, just six minutes’ walk away. Active studio members will have free 126 membership. The mission of 126 is to support its members to work and to access opportunities, supports, and spaces. With that in mind, the gallery team is available for one-to-one conversations to facilitate group engagement between both facilities, or with other organisations in Galway.
To contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/f/barton-studios-2021. For more information on how to get involved, email email@example.com.