Over the last year, through the restrictive nature of the climate, people have sought out and identified places of comfort close to their homes to reflect in. Curator Leagues O'Toole will collaborate with three musicians to create individual artistic responses to their places of comfort in the weeks leading up to the Festival.
As the work develops, details of the separate projects and an insight into the process of curating and creating the work will be shared, culminating in online presentations of the work over the final week of the Festival.
"For the Places of Comfort project I invited three artists living in or native to Cork to create new work based on the idea of a place they were drawn to during the lockdown periods of the COVID-19 pandemic when our movements in Ireland were restricted to a 5km radius and many of us found ourselves moving in circles or loops, rethreading certain routes, and observing the same local landmarks.
In some circumstances, through the limitations we lived under we found ourselves rediscovering or more closely examining where we lived, the infrastructure of the nature and the land most immediately around our doorstep. The impact of the restrictions and the pause of activity and sense of claustrophobia - and in some cases intense loneliness - brought huge mental challenges for many people. At times, I felt myself and probably others were drawn to certain spots to find a place of reflection or comfort, a place were I could breathe for a few minutes and distract myself from the anxiety of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
I have always valued artists as the individuals in our society best equipped to articulate social anxieties, moods and change. Through this expression we can relate, connect and feel comforted in one another's shared experience. I asked three artists whose work was grounded in music but very much drew upon other disciplines of visual art and literature to facilitate and elaborate on the concepts and narratives of their work." - Leagues O'Toole
8pm, 23 June
"The first artist I invited was Maija Sofia from Galway. Maija spent much time in Cork during this period, often in residence and working on new projects. She instantly responded to my challenge with great enthusiasm as I anticipated. I'm excited to share this commissioned work with you for Cork Midsummer Festival." - Leagues O'Toole
Maija Sofia is a songwriter and artist who works between the overlapping worlds of sound, performance and text. Her work is led by what is intuitively felt over what is intellectually known, and through various forms she explores the realms of the mystic, the feminine, the folkloric and the ecological. She is from rural Galway and is of mixed Irish, Finnish and Turkish-Cypriot heritage. Her debut album, Bath Time, was shortlisted for the Choice Award album of year in 2019 and she was a recipient of the arts council of Ireland's Next Generation award in 2020.
8pm, 24 June
"The second artist I invited was Elaine Howley, who I've barely met in person but have this perspective of as someone quite central to the underground music scene in Cork City as a member of numerous bands, each making their own distinctly unique music. To my mind, Elaine is clearly a natural collaborator, but for this project I'm interested in how she approaches music from a more isolated context and draws upon the influences of the various projects she's involved in into something purely personal. I imagine we might hear elements of folk music, psyche, and ambience, and perhaps more. My impression of her is someone with a deep and broad love of music, which I really admire, and I'm excited to see how she responds to this invitation." - Leagues O'Toole
Elaine Howley is an experimental musician and singer from Tipperary living in Cork City. Her style has been carved out through involvement in a multitude of bands in the city's vibrant scene including as a singer in the psychedelic rock group the Altered Hours, as a member of ambient trio Crevice, alternative folk group Morning Veils and Howlbux. Howley blends deep synths, analog beats and emotive melodies to create her music, mixing digital recording with cassette loops and vocal layers. After contributing to a host of critically acclaimed compilations, Elaine is currently working towards her first full length solo release.
8pm, 25 June
"The third artist I invited was Toby Kaar, an artist I've known for many years, primarily for his work in producing cutting edge electronic music often inspired by unusual influences. I've always had a sense that Toby was very in touch with his hometown of Cork, invested in the local music scenes and its native artists and initiatives and keen to contribute as a performer, DJ, producer and collaborator. After spells in Dublin and London he has been back living in Cork the last few years and enjoying something of a creative surge during the pandemic lockdowns despite being simultaneously busy with study and other interests. I expect what he produces for this project will be both typically unique but also full of personal emotion." - Leagues O'Toole
Toby Kaar has been a stalwart of the Irish electronic music scene for the last decade, with releases and live shows that left a sparkling impression on many. Having grown up in Cork, Toby returned to the city three years ago, and since then has been quietly putting in work on the next step in his musical journey. The lockdowns led to his most prolific period in years, seeing him release a new batch of music for the first time since 2016, as well as contributing production work to a range of different media projects. As he prepares to leave Cork once more, it is only fitting that Toby composes a piece dedicated to a city that has always brought him comfort and a sense of stability.