this week we have the great privilege of chatting with the wonderful, and talented Fionnuala Fagan
Fionnuala Fagan is a singer-songwriter, musician and installation artist. She has worked for diverse range of companies including, Primecut Productions, Kabosh Theatre Company, Tinderbox Theatre Company, Big Telly Theatre Company, National Museums NI and Queen’s University (J.A.M.).
In August 2010, Fionnuala and folk duo partner Lucy Kerr released their first EP Homebird, under their band name, Sheelin. Homebird is the title of Fionnuala’s final MA song-writing and performance piece. Homebird is the powerfully emotive musical and artistic interpretation of the true story of 19 year old, Maire de Baroid. The piece is written and composed by Fionnuala, using Maire’s own words, collected from her at interview.
Fionnuala is currently studying for a PhD at SARC. Her practice-led research will explore ideas for the alternative documentation of personal and cultural memories and narratives of Belfast through song-writing, sound and interdisciplinary art practices.
How and where are you today?
I have been walking in Lady Dixon Park and then been to a barbecue at my friends house.
I am feeling the hint of butterflies in my stomach because it’s the last day of the Easter holidays and I have six big weeks ahead. These will include: an exciting “Prime Cut Productions” week in Derry with a group of Bosnian, N.Irish (including Handsome and Pretty’s Lisa Hogg!) and Slovenian artists; the opening of my performance piece, Homebird, in the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival on 6th May; and the opening of a new installation and performance work, Stories of the City: Sailortown. This piece is a collaboration between myself and sound artist Isobel Anderson and is due to open in The MAC, Belfast on 19th May. Several unknown outcomes are in front of me and that is a little scary! 🙂
“And the most unexpected but exquisite treat came in the form of Sheelin’s Homebird, a musical interpretation of a poignant family story, performed in a sweet little vintage world of lace dresses, bone china teasets, embroidered cushions and bric-a-brac.” Jane Coyle, Culture NI
How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?
The journey has taken many twists and turns. Every year has presented new and diverse opportunities which I have worked hard to find. Those which have challenged me the most both personally and professionally have undoubtedly given me the best experience and ideas. I didn’t have a particular final destination in mind and I still don’t, but I always wanted to pursue a career in music and performance.
Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?
I need to find a clear space in order to create. In this ever increasingly busy life, I have to prioritize in order to make time for this.
How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?
My up-bringing and culture have influenced me hugely. The majority of my creative work uses local oral history narratives as a basis. I am a classically trained musician but was brought up listening to and dabbling in Irish traditional folk music and song. Ireland’s musical heritage has had a strong influence on my song-writing and singing style. My interest in story-telling undoubtedly comes from sitting around the table in my grand-parents home in Cork drinking tea and listening to my mum’s family telling all sorts of captivating tales.
What does beauty mean to you?
In my opinion, evocative art has three key ingredients – integrity, truth and simplicity. In order to achieve the presence of these three ingredients, an artist must communicate with their heart, and their heart must be fully committed to the project. Beauty will be inevitable within any work of art where the artist has been able to give this level of commitment…Beauty both in art and in life mean everything to me.
If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?
A music teacher.
“Nothing is worth doing unless it scares the shit out of you.”
Brian Irvine, the Northern Irish composer, was a tutor of mine many years ago. I still remember him saying this statement. Even now, every time I am embarking on something that is daunting and new I think of Brian saying this. Even when I am doubting myself and my ability to do something, his words always give me the courage to persuade myself to take the risk and to put myself on the line. I would prefer to fail than to never have tried. I think that without this attitude I would not be in the place where I find myself today.
check out all information, photos and music on the Fionnuala Fagan Website
Amazing Finn, thank you so very much. We can’t wait to go and see your pieces of work at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and The MAC over the next couple of months.
welcome to the family
handsome and pretty