In a bold move, An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha is banning makeup and false eyelashes for children under age 10. In an attempt to address recent criticisms of the excessive (and might I add wildly inappropriate) amount of emphasis placed on a young dancer's physical appearance, the CLRG has ruled all makeup a no-no, though wigs are still allowed. This is long overdue. Good on you CLRG!
Also banned are the artificial "carriage aids" which have been cropping up in costumes as of late. Seen at left is an example of a so-called "carriage aid," which stabilizes the arms while dancing. For full details, see this Journal article. Now you young 'uns have to learn proper old school technique, like we did when our grannie's made our costumes. You can't hide your flaws in gabardine and a circle skirt, I'll tell you that! OOFAH - my age is showing...
"So, what do you do?" As a species, it seems we just aren't satisfied until we each know what the other "does" for a living. I've gotten used to the mingled look of bemused admiration and pity that greets my reply to the question. Most often people (correctly) assume that a career in an obscure corner of the art history world is...challenging. The word I like to use is "liberating." Yes, liberating! I'm not working for the man or punching a clock. NO THANK YOU. I'm making my own opportunities...
To that end, I'd like to announce that I am now booking for the spring and summer lecture season! (Hey, an Irish Art Historian has to HUSTLE , right?) I'm offering an exciting survey lecture aptly entitled, "The Art of Ireland: Prehistory to the Present." Please join me in this celebration of Ireland’s history in art, from the Poulnabrone portal tomb to the abstract oils of contemporary painter Sean Scully!
Lecture runs approximately 1 hour and includes a question and answer period. A handout of recommended readings will be made available prior to the lecture for distribution. To book, please email me at email@example.com. You can also download a flyer HERE.
My daughter is two. We watch far more (educational) children's television than I care to admit. I've learned to appreciate the finer points of Sesame Street but when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on, I'm reaching for my phone or a magazine or the phone book - anything to keep the boredom at bay. But yesterday while busily folding laundry I looked up to discover the Mouse and his buds chasing a rainbow in search of that most appallingly dreadful of Irish stereotypes... the leprechaun.
My inner Irish Art Historian absolutely CRINGES every time I see this knickered insult to Irish folklore, especially in the context of children's television. Pot of gold? Please. Crack a history book for heaven's sake. Now I know what you're thinking - it's just for fun! Don't get your Irish up, Churchill! But stay with me on this one. I think children's entertainment could and should be more sophisticated. This is prime time people! Kids are sponges. Why fill their wee noggins with subtle racism and nonsense just because it entertains? Ask yourself this, would you be comfortable if Disney trotted out Aunt Jemima to whip up some pancakes for Mickey and his crew? Bake your biscuits over that one for awhile...
Just last week Imagination Movers (I told you we watch too much television) rolled out a guest character, the Irish golfing sensation, "Ace Mulligan!" What proceeded was approximately 22 minutes of the worst Irish accent I've heard since Gangs of New York. And the episode's special song, "Luck of the Irish" featured a wagon full of potatoes, plenty of plaid and some pretty sorry "Irish dancing" (to say nothing of the lousy musicianship.) Apparently there are no historians on the bankroll at Disney Jr.
OK! OK! I'll get off the soap box now. I'm just saying, the whole business smacks of Punch circa 1880. No culture deserves to be deduced to a mascot or an offensive punch line. (AHEM Washington Red Skins.) Irish art and culture deserve better, so let's demand it. Now raise your glass of green beer and pour it directly down the drain, where it belongs.