Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Artists taking the lead: Northern Ireland

  • Date: 16 May 2011
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: National
Two men holding labelled objects Brian Irvine and John McIlduff of Dumbworld

Brian Irvine and John, (Dumbworld): Nest

Nest invites the people of Northern Ireland to create art on a massive scale through the simple act of donating an object.

The project is part of Artists taking the lead, a series of 12 public art commissions across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Arts Council England is delivering the project in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.

Items will be collected from towns and villages and attached to a baggage label illustrating how they are connected to their donor. The objects will then be catalogued and assembled into a gigantic creation in Belfast by a team of artists and designers. The resulting structure will become the focal point for a large-scale music and choral event in 2012, composed, written and directed by Brian Irvine and John McIlduff - inspired and performed by the people of Northern Ireland.

With thousands of objects and hundreds of singing voices and musicians, Nest will be a far reaching, all embracing, sonic and sculptural landscape that examines and questions relationships between people and the things that we surround ourselves with -  the things from which we make our own nests.

About the artists

Dumbworld lead artists are composer Brian Irvine and filmmaker/director John McIlduff.
Brian Irvine's huge body of work includes orchestral works, chamber music, operas, film scores as well as solo and ensemble pieces. His work has involved commissions and collaborations with many international artists ranging from opera companies and orchestras to filmmakers, choreographers, DJs and free improvisors.
He is currently the Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra and together with his own 12-piece ensemble, has conducted and performed all over the world and appeared at many international festivals to widespread critical acclaim. He has won a number of awards for his music including a British Composers Award for his opera The Tailor's Daughter  and a BBC Radio 3 Jazz Award.
John McIlduff is a writer/filmmaker and stage director. A graduate of Queen's University, Belfast and L'École de Theatre Jacques Lecoq, he has worked throughout Europe directing productions including an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, a French language version of A Streetcar named Desire and the hugely successful Italian production, Mucche Ballerine. He has made films about fighting cows, pear trees and irresponsible parents, which have been screened in festivals from Tehran to Clermont Ferrand, directed commercials for well known brands of washing powder and been awarded the Prix de Qualité from the CNC. As a writer John has written for both opera and soap opera most recently for the French television series Un Meilleur Monde. 

The panel

All of the winning Artists taking the lead projects were chosen by a specially selected panel. The Northern Ireland panel commented:

'Northern Ireland's panel were fascinated by Brian Irvine's Nest and how it responded to all the core aims of Artists taking the lead. Nest is a celebration of Northern Ireland's diversity, of the general public's creativity in telling their own stories and their artistic interpretation of objects important to them. It offers a lasting legacy connecting that diverse range of public participation through a final performance and a sculptural piece representing all individual contributions in a collected and universal way. We see the project capturing the public imagination and involving a wide audience in celebrating the arts and our creative involvement in London 2012.'

Visit the Artists taking the lead page to find out about the other projects taking place accross the UK.