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‘BAE’ is a celebration of Ireland’s creative community

Words: Katie Gartland
Header image: Bureau Bonanza

The last year has seen many sectors hit hard by the pandemic, particularly arts and culture. With the announcement of a vaccine and the hope of Ireland returning to normal soon, Project Arts Centre (PAC) in Temple Bar, Dublin has started looking ahead. And ‘Future Forecasts’, the organisation’s newest arts series, is part of its response. 

‘Future Forecasts’ was developed in collaboration with Journalist Una Mullally to examine PAC’s role in Dublin and focus on accessibility. It also reimagines how PAC could be viewed by its audience and the art community in the future. PAC has invited artists, writers and photographers to express their greatest hopes and ideas for our small city. 

Within the ‘Future Forecasts’ series, PAC has enlisted journalist Louise Bruton and its own Artistic Director Cian O’Brien to curate and edit a publication to showcase and celebrate Ireland’s creatives. 

‘Big Art Energy’ (BAE) is a gorgeous, limited-edition publication designed by Bureau Bonanza. It contains reflections on Irish creativity in a time of Covid from four different artists – Vanessa Ifediora, Soula Emmanuel, Gary Farrelly and Club Comfort.

Louise Bruton

Louise Bruton spoke to District about the project via Zoom from her kitchen. We talked about the curation of ‘BAE’ – she described the publication as a “snapshot into some of the people who are so smart and so adaptive when it comes to carving a space for themselves in the art community”. Every so often when she moved her head to one side, a disco ball behind her glistened. She explained that she had installed it over lockdown after realising she was going to be spending a lot more time in her kitchen- genius.  

‘BAE’ highlights the incredible work artists have been doing in 2020. 

“We realised how important art was this year. In terms of distraction or in terms of comfort or in terms of cherishing memories that we’ve had,” she told me. 

Whether it’s an online tour to see your favourite paintings at The National Gallery of Art, a new song by your favourite Irish artist, or a fresh piece of street art in your area, we should be extremely grateful to Irish artists for brightening up what’s been an otherwise bleak year.

After putting together the pieces for ‘BAE’, Louise acknowledged the importance of accessibility in the media. 

“We realised how important art was this year. In terms of distraction or in terms of comfort or in terms of cherishing memories that we’ve had,”

Louise Bruton

“When given the space, people are so creative and so smart. Space isn’t given to everybody to shine. It’s not necessarily even to shine hugely, we can all contribute in small ways to make the city a better place.”

The publication, available now for pre-order, invites different voices and perspectives to share their ideas about the city.

“Dublin has been flattened,” she insisted. And we’ve allowed the city to be controlled by establishments and developers instead of the people. She questioned how comfortable we are walking around the City Centre. 

“Do we feel like these streets are ours or do we feel like we’re walking on borrowed streets?” she asked. “I hope when people pick up ‘BAE’ they’ll pick up an artist that they’re going to follow… Whether that’s looking at our artist Gary Farrelly, photographer Vanessa, or attending some event put on by Club Comfort or following Soula’s writing career because they’re all such different people and the varying perspectives that they’ve delivered are going to help shift other people’s views on how we work in the city.”

‘BAE’ looks at the state of the city from all aspects of life. Louise spoke about the importance of kindness, a kindness that has blossomed over the pandemic. She referenced the piece by Soula Emmanuel, a trans writer based in Wicklow. 

“Her view of the pandemic was she has always felt like she’s walked around Dublin wearing a mask. Now that she’s got the physical mask on, it’s a new leveller in terms of how we move around our city. When we all had to adapt it was ‘what role does the individual bring to the table’.”

Big Art Energy, design by Bureau Bonanza

Louise has been part of Dublin’s art scene since she finished college in 2008, just as Ireland’s economy crashed. She began to immerse herself in music culture, gigs and festivals in the hopes of being a music journalist. She described the newly derelict buildings and abandoned developments at the time. These spaces would be taken over by Dublin’s creatives, who would host exhibitions, raves and concerts. She painted a picture of exposed wires, unfinished plastering and the smell of incomplete drains in the empty developments in Smithfield. She noted the economic parallels between then and now and expressed her excitement for the future of Dublin in such an uncertain time. 

Bureau Bonanza

Bureau Bonanza, a graphic design business based in Dublin designed ‘BAE’. Stina Sandström and Rachel Copley McQuillan spoke to District via three-way Zoom call about their creation. They talked through their main design influences. An initial source of influence was the Aisling Copy Book. The copies would be a familiar sight to everyone who attended primary school in Ireland. The long, swooping vintage font of the old copies is a nostalgic reminder of sums and spelling tests.

Stina explained that they wanted to display the “transparency in the artist’s process” for ‘BAE’. 

The cover of the publication is neat, unassuming and introverted, using the plain and intricate influence from Aisling copies, while the inside emulates a child’s copy- chaos, covered in doodles and scribbles. 

Rachel described the interior of the publication’s design as “busy, maybe a bit claustrophobic and anxious”. But in the end, it resolves into a “really beautiful and overall hopeful work”.

Bureau Bonanza was established after Rachel and Stina attended IADT together in 2014. When working on a joint college assignment, they realised the synergy and compatibility of their work. After a Summer holiday in the tropical paradise of Belize, their shared colourful and bright aesthetic began to form. Since then, the company’s creations have been a joint effort. They explained that their process develops as follows; Rachel starts on one section of a project and if she reaches a creative block or wants more inspiration, she passes it on to Stina. They go back and forth in this way until the project is complete. 

The working from home aspect of the pandemic didn’t really affect them because they’ve always been in constant online communication. And though they’re used to that, they can’t avoid the usual trials and tribulations. From dodgy WiFi to technical difficulties, there’s no getting away from it, they laughed. And even this experience isn’t wasted – it influenced them to create ‘Can You See Me’, the print that accompanies BAE which grew from a happy, technological accident. During an online video call Stina’s internet failed and her image froze. Rachel took a screenshot of the pixelated photo with her own face in the corner. She admired the gradient and colours that had emerged. After a quick Photoshop edit, ‘Can You See Me’- a signifier and representation of 2020 – was complete.

‘Can You See Me’

‘BAE’ is released on December 16, you can pre-order it now on their website. With amazing insights from Irish artists and gorgeous design, the limited edition publication, printed by Plus Print and Hen’s Teeth, is a must-have this Winter. ‘BAE’ comes accompanied with Bureau Bonanza’s ‘Can You See Me’ print and a tailor-made playlist put together by Louise Bruton.

Support Irish art and ideas this Christmas and have brand new artwork delivered straight to your door.

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