25 June 2018

An invitation to speak
about El Greco at
Askeaton arts festival

A monument to El Greco in El Greco Park in the centre of Iraklion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Askeaton Contemporary Arts has invited me to speak next month at the 13th edition of ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood,’ the local arts festival involving international and Irish artists who live and work in Co Limerick.

The programme begins on Monday 16 July 2018 and continues throughout July 2018.

Since 2006, Askeaton Contemporary Arts has commissioned, produced and exhibited contemporary art in Askeaton. The events are public, free and open to all, culminating in a special Open Day on Saturday 28 July, featuring new commissioned artworks.

I have been invited to speak on Friday evening, 20 July at 8 p.m. on El Greco and his influence on western art.

The programme notes say: ‘Askeaton's Church of Ireland priest, and accomplished author, blogger and journalist, Patrick Comerford is given carte blanche to present a talk at Askeaton Civic Trust. Expect a journey through the history of western art, with renaissance painter El Greco at the helm.’

Doménikos Theotokópoulos or “El Greco” (1541-1614) is closely identified with the Spanish Renaissance. Yet, as his popular nickname indicates, he was Greek by birth and he normally signed his works with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos).

Theotokópoulos was born in Venetian Crete in 1541, the descendant of a prosperous urban family that had probably been driven out of Chania in western Crete to Iraklion after an uprising against the Venetians in 1526-1528.

This year’s programme in Askeaton opens on Monday morning, 16 July, at 11.30 a.m., with an invitation to join Askeaton tour guide Anthony Sheehy on an exploratory walk around the town’s mediaeval history.

For over a decade the Office of Public Works has been active inside Askeaton’s mediaeval castle, carrying out a long-term conservation project on one of Ireland’s most important buildings. On Wednesday 18 July, at 12.30 p.m., artist Carl Doran and OPW staff describe their work and the day-to-day tasks involved.

There will be another opportunity at 11.30 on Monday 23 July to share in Anthony Sheehy’s knowledge, exploring Askeaton’s history in a walk around the ruins of the Franciscan Friary.

Curators Max Andrews, Mariana Cánepa Luna (Latitudes, Barcelona), and Gareth Bell-Jones (Flat Time House, London) discuss some of their recent exhibition projects on Tuesday evening 24 July at 8 p.m., when they recall some of the travels and experiences that form part of their work and profession.

Karin Dubsky is one of Ireland’s leading marine ecologists. She works at Trinity College Dublin and is co-ordinator and co-founder of Coastwatch Europe. She campaigns regularly on environmental issues.

On Thursday evening 26 July, at 8 p.m., following the recent Coastwatch Europe exhibition at the European Parliament in Brussels, she will describe her work and how a greater understanding and inclusive vision of an area such as the Shannon Estuary area could be gained.

The annual open day, from 3 p.m. on Saturday 28 July, celebrates the work of 2018’s artists in residence. A reception at Askeaton Civic Trust will be followed by a guided tour of Askeaton, encountering new projects by Matt Calderwood, Jonny Lyons, Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty.

All events are free and open to the public.

A seafront exhibition in Iraklion in 2013 on the making of the movie El Greco (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

IOCS announces details
for the 2018 summer
conference in Cambridge

The illustration from the poster for this year’s IOCS conference in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Patrick Comerford

The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge has announced in the past week details of this year’s annual conference, which takes place from 31 August to 1 September 2018, at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

For many years, this summer conference has played an important role in my theological education and my professional development.

The conference this year addresses the topic: ‘The Newness of the Old: Tradition, Doctrine and Christian Life between Preservation and Innovation.’

In Christianity, preservation of tradition and innovation are complexly intertwined. On the one hand, an act of resistance to change can turn out to be an original move that out-performs fashionable new ideas and practices.

On the other hand, the audacious introduction of the ‘new’ is at times the only way to safeguard the faithful continuation of tradition. Yet innovation can also weaken tradition and lead to its destruction, and faithfulness to tradition may degenerate into an ossified and lifeless traditionalism.

A consistently Trinitarian theology and practice must transcend any simplistic dichotomy between a conservative and a progressive outlook on life.

Paradoxically, it is precisely the ‘old’ that manifests itself as the ‘ever-new’. The question as to how to balance the interplay of continuity and discontinuity remains one of the main challenges for Orthodox theology in the 21st century. The aim of the conference is to explore how the complex interrelationship between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ is to be conceived of.

For more details, enrolments and payments, please visit the IOCS website here. A poster/flyer for the conference here. A detailed programme for the conference will be uploaded shortly on the IOCS website.

The keynote speakers this year include: Dr Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter), the Revd Prof Nikolaos Loudovikos (University Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki), the Revd Prof Andrew Louth (Durham University), and Professor Jens Zimmerman (Trinity Western University).

Papers will be presented by: Barnabas Aspray (University of Cambridge), Lucian George Berciu (University of Fribourg), Richard Choate (Graduate Theological Union and University of California, Berkeley), Dr Viorel Coman (KU Leuven), Dr Christine Mangala Frost (IOCS), Ryan Hacker (University of Cambridge), Professor Sigríður Halldórsdóttir (University of Akureyri), Dr Smilen Markov (University of Veliko Turnovo / University of Oxford), Michael Miller (University of Cambridge), Ben Morris (Diocese of Sourozh), Yuliia Rozumna (Nottingham University), and Stefan Zelijkovic (University of Belgrade).

Conference enrolment for two days, with meals, is £340. Conference enrolment for two days with no meals is £250. Coffee/tea and biscuits will be provided for all participants. The prices above do not include accommodation. Since places are limited, intending participants may prefer to reserve a place with a non-refundable deposit of £100.

Bookings may be made through the IOCS website.

Accommodation arrangements need to be made directly with Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge … the venue for this year’s IOCS annual conference (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)