The Looking Glass Anthology

The Looking Glass Anthology

Date: 28/04/2022 12:53

As part of the remit for Northern Ireland’s recent digitisation project, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Digital Film Archive staff Bronagh McAtasney and Paul McClintock invited four artists to respond to the films. The Looking Glass Anthology is a collection of beautiful works by a range of musicians and poets that capture what the archives mean to each of them on a personal level.   

You can watch all four here (see below). And within each link, you can watch the film that inspired the work.

The four artists and their projects are:

Matt McGinn, Tribute to Willie Campbell
Matt is a singer-songwriter from south Down. He selected film of Willie Campbell, a busker who played the saw in Belfast city centre in the 1960s. Matt created a suite based on Willie’s story and engaged Dublin spoken word poet Natayla O’Flaherty, the Arco String Quartet and Uilleann piper Darragh Murphy. The resulting work, filmed in Belfast’s Carlisle Memorial Church, is an emotional exploration of the life of a street musician.

Rachael Boyd, Wanderers
Rachael Boyd creates beautiful post-classical work. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Rachael uses her gift to make music that tells stories, exploring universal themes with sympathy and emotion.  

Here, Rachael has looked at the difficult relationship between the Travellers and local residents in mid-60s Northern Ireland. It is a painful story of ignorance and fear exposed through bigotry. The footage is both poignant and upsetting and Rachael’s music humanises the much maligned and marginalised Traveller community. 

Stephen Sexton, The Actualities  
Poet Stephen Sexton was drawn to explore what those being filmed in the past may have imagined the future to be and how we, the viewer looking back, see their lives. These are actual people with actual lives, hence the poem’s name The Actualities. 

Soundtracked by an evocative bespoke composition by Ian Livingstone, Stephen reads his poem alongside the archives he selected. The images inspired the words and the words found their match in the images. The result is a beautiful journey back in time that gives new life to the people we see in the archives. 

Elma Orkestra, Arrival
Eoin O’Callaghan is Elma Orkestra. The Derry-based composer creates beautiful electronic cinematic music that explores Northern Irish culture and emotions. In partnership with Ryan Vail, he released Borders, a magnificent album of atmospheric pieces and winner of the 2019 Northern Ireland Album of the Year Music Prize. Borders challenges geographic and internal borders with some of the music a product of collaboration with other creatives such as poet Stephen James Smith. 

Elma Orkestra has created a vision using the Digital Film Archive to reinterpret ‘Arrival’, one of the tracks from this amazing album. Looking anew at his own music in the light of the films within the archive, this is an exciting aural and visual treat.