The London 2012 Festival has closed. This was the final exhibition of an 18 month tour of The Screaming Silence of the Wind exhibition. I just want to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped me deliver what has been the most wonderful 2 years as part of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. From the launch exhibition in 2010 12,000 people have visited my various exhibitions.

The London 2012 Festival was part of the Cultural Olympiad. It was an amazing week.

Coinciding with the London 2012 Paralympic Games the eleven-day Unlimited festival celebrated the work of Deaf and disabled artists.

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Review: Maurice Orr’s “The Screaming Silence of the Wind”

7 September 2012

Maurice Orr’s paintings are designed to be touched. His innovative use of dried fish skins as media, and the unusual access he gives to his paintings, makes this exhibition a memorable experience. Nicole Fordham Hodges saw and touched these respectfully wild landscapes.

The exhibition comprises 5 huge paintings on canvas: barren coastal landscapes from Orr’s native Northern Ireland, and from Skagastrond, Iceland. It has been designed to be accessible to all audiences, in particular visually impaired people, through touch, sound and sight. Maurice Orr has designed audio description with accompanying large text and Braille stands for each painting. He also commissioned a musical score to accompany his work. This was not playing when I reviewed the exhibition, probably due to competing noises in the busy exhibition space.

‘Benbane Head  from Dunseverick Old Harbour’ NI 2010 (Fish leather, oil on canvas) is an “angry” seascape. Orr’s accompanying description says: “The intensely dark blue sea is very angry and the incoming surf on the waves is bright blue engulfing the rough dark wolffish skin rocks”.

The descriptions throughout are not quite poetic but vividly physical. Like his paintings, they show huge respect for both his artistic media and for these wild places. The “anger” of the seascapes is an elemental force: uncomplicated, uncompromising power being translated into “human” for us through the senses. A few high fields on a cliff show fleeting warmth, momentarily catching the sun.

I feel my way around the paintings. It feels intimate to relate to art in this way. Feeling the “Giant’s Causeway” NI 2010 (Fish Leather, oil on canvas) I experienced the difference between the smooth leathery texture of the headland (wolffish) and the bumpy scree slope (codskin). “Cod skin has scales which overlap in one direction only, giving the feel of looser rocks,” writes Orr.

For me the most memorable painting is “The Old Causeway Harbour from the Smugglers’ Cave NI”. It gives us a view of the sea looking out from a cave’s interior. The cave is ” captured in both fish leather and a very dark oil paint leading to a much brighter aspect beyond.”

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London 2012 and Arts Council England today announced that more than £400,000 of funding has been awarded to 10 commissions for Unlimited, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project. Unlimited will celebrate disability, arts, culture and sport on an unprecedented scale, transforming the disability arts movement in the UK.

Unlimited encourages collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations. They will celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and produce work like never before.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad said: “These are my first commissions since I started work for the Cultural Olympiad Board and I am proud to be working on a festival which will be offering more commissioning for disabled artists than any Cultural Olympiad and festival anywhere in the world.

“TThis is a chance to change the way work by disabled artists is perceived and enjoyed round the world, and we are thrilled to have such exciting commissions to get the programme started.”

Commissions include:

  • NORTHERN IRELAND Maurice Orr – The Screaming Silence of the Wind,
  • LONDON Candoco Dance Company – Candoco Unlimited, Graeae Theatre Company – The Garden,
  • NORTH WEST Fittings Multimedia Arts –The Ugly Spirit,
  • SCOTLAND Janice Parker – Private Dancer, Ramesh Meyyappan – Snails and Ketchup,
  • WALES Chris Tally Evans – Personal Best: Turning Points, Kaite O’Reilly with The Llanarth Group – The d Monologues,
  • YORKSHIRE Jez Colborne with Mind the Gap – Irresistible, Stumble danceCircus.- Bipolar Ringmaster (without a Circus).

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LONDON 2012 and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today that Ballymoney-based visual artist, Maurice Orr has been awarded one of the first commissions for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Unlimited.

Unlimited is the largest arts and disability programme to be delivered in Northern Ireland and the UK. In this first round over £400,000 of funding has been awarded to 10 commissions from the unprecedented three-year programme to create new work for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

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