If you go down to the Centre Culturel Irlandais today, you’re sure of a big surprise. No teddy bear’s picnic is in order. Instead, expect to find a vast teddy bear in a toy car next to an equally large pink house, outside in the courtyard. Both installations are by Patrick O’Reilly, the Irish contemporary artist – hailed for his dark, deceptively sweet work – and are celebrating a decade of the institution which is usually referred to as the Irish College.
Another treat in store comes via an exhibition devoted to William Butler Yeats which captures the extraordinarily charged life of the Nobel Prize winning poet. Not only are there first editions of the great man’s verse and portraits by the likes of Augustus John, but also details about the romantic looking bard’s love for Maud Gonne and his strong links to Irish politics and, of course, The Abbey Theatre. There’s also the Poetry Hour event which boasts the likes of Sinead Cusack, Marianne Faithfull and Bob Geldorf reading from W.B.. The soirée is in honor of Josephine Hart – the late and much-missed Irish novelist – who was famous for her ‘Poetry Hour’ happenings at the British Library. The delightfully animated Josephine – I was lucky enough to interview and know her – felt strongly that poetry was life-saving. I agree with that.
"The delightfully animated Josephine Hart – I was lucky enough to interview and know her – felt strongly that poetry was life-saving. I agree with that."
However, before I step on my soap box about how poetry uplifts and how the starkness of the lines calms, make an appointment and visit the Irish College’s eighteenth century library. Resembling a jewelled casket, it’s one of the few Ancien Régime libraries to have survived and it defines divine. Packed with religious books and lined by long wooden tables and benches, I was reminded of learned theologians who argue about the aesthetic differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.