“The drink, they fight and they fornicate.”

This is how the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is described in a new movie biopic about their lives, entitled, Liz & Dick.

Starring walking train wreck actress Lindsay Lohan as the legendary Taylor, and Grant Bowler as Burton, the movie tells the tale of the couple who met on the set of Cleopatra and went on to have one of the most tempestuous and talked-about marriages Hollywood has ever seen.

The made-for-TV movie, which debuts this November on Lifetime is a no-holds barred portrayal of impossible love.

Francesco
Arts, Lifestyle, Men's Fashion

An interview with international photographer Francesco Sapienza | Jamie Tuohy

International photographer Francesco Sapienza

When the immensely talented Maria Martinez, of Robert Chambers on Grafton Street, Dublin and thecitycoiffure.com asked me if I’d be interested in engaging in some follicular exploits in the form of the innovative psychobilly haircut, I instantly jumped at the opportunity. Likewise, when she asked me if I’d consider having my picture taken with the new style, by international photographer Francesco Sapienza, my answer was an expeditious YES!

Francesco Sapienza is a multi-faceted and exceptionally talented photographer, who was born in Rome and educated at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and as well at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. After branching out from his initial profession as an engineer, Sapienza soon found himself published in prestigious publications such as The New York Times and has gone on to photograph everyone from musicians to Oscar winners.

Francesco is in Dublin for the opening of his bother Alex’s photography studio (where I met him) in South William St. and he kindly gave this interview: be warned, his words WILL inspire you to get up, realise your ambition and ACHIEVE IT.

Yours truly, shot by Francesco Sapienza

Francesco, how did you first become involved with the art of photography?

It all started some 20 years ago when I got a camera from my father and I shot a few rolls. While shooting was fun, I found the entire process rather slow and time consuming – from actually taking the picture to eventually seeing the finished product. I was restless and I quit. But then in 2004, I ended up going into a photo store for no apparent reason and ended up buying a digital SLR. It reignited my initial passion for the craft and this is when I really started taking pictures. Then in 2005, I realised that I had a long harboured dream to become a professional photographer.

You were working as a successful engineer before you became a photographer, is that right?

Yes! From a very young age, I was always fascinated with disassembly. If something could be taken apart and reconstructed or reworked in some way, I relished it. So I went to university to study electrical engineering and I obtained my Masters from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, although I studied for the first three years at the University of Rome, La Sapienza. My major was Radio Communications and during my 10-year career I became one of the major experts in the world in mobile communication systems, in particular 3G and 4G. When I rekindled my interest in photography, I started taking on assignments, but most of them would need to be completed during business hours, so I would take vacation from work to carry out my photography assignments. It sounds crazy, but before I knew it, my photography career took off and I was able to leave my old job and become a professional photographer. It was a dream come true.

There must have been tough times as you were making the transition and establishing yourself as a photographer? What kept you going?

There were, but knowing that we only get one life and we should try and do what we love is the number one motivational argument. You know, very often we chase the wrong things in life, and things pass us by. Having dreams is so important and when those dreams are recognised and pursed, it makes the world a greater place.

Does your background as an engineer help you as a photographer?

Oh immensely. You know, my first career was great. I got to travel around the globe and train thousands of people on how to build their mobile networks. However, it was always ‘just a job.’ In saying that, it allowed me to develop so many transferrable skills that I can call on as a photographer. It gave me a lot in terms of business experience and I learned invaluable presentation skills. As a photographer, you are running your own business and at the end of the day, it has to be profitable. Otherwise it doesn’t work. It’s the same with technology. Any technology that aspires to become popular needs to have a strong business case behind it. If it doesn’t, it’s irrelevant. This is especially true for photographers who want to make a living out of their art.

So, as a photographer, you have to be able to do more than just ‘take a good picture’?

Absolutely! Being a photographer is not only about being very good at taking pictures. Taking pictures is a small part of the entire profession. As a photographer, you have to be a 360˚ professional. You need to be good with people, numbers, marketing, sales, networking and so forth. It’s a multi-disciplinary career.

You are here in Dublin for the opening of your Brother Alex’s new photography studio. What do you think of his idea?

Alex is an amazing cameraman and photographer and he is very passionate about the history of photography and its origins some 200 years ago. One of the techniques he’s going to offer his clients goes back to the middle of the 19th century and is called tintype photography. The medium he uses for capturing the image is a glass or metal plate that is dipped into a photosensitive solution of chemicals and then put in the camera for taking the picture. The development takes only few minutes and the plate is ready with the image on top. One of the beautiful aspects of the entire idea is that the plate is the real picture that the client brings home and it is totally unique.

You’re based in New York now, what is it about New York that you love?

New York is incomparable. Every day, you are constantly exposed to such a large variety of people, cultures, languages, styles, etc. It is also very challenging, but I believe the moment our mind stops being challenged we are in trouble. The moment we don’t feel the need to be stimulated and put to the test, we stop living. I love this quote from Pema Chödrön: “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” Also, in New York nobody cares about what you look like – it’s totally accepting and completely refreshing.

It’s a city that offers culture in abundance. It must be a fantastic mood board for a photographer?

It really is. One thing I absolutely adore about New York is how, in late afternoon, the sunlight illuminates the city from the West side. There’s usually a thin layer of clouds that makes that light unbelievably warm. It creates a glow around anything that is exposed to it. It’s like a fairy-tale.

What do you like most about your job? 

Always being in close interaction with a lot of different people and constantly being exposed to a lot of creativity, which in turn boosts my own creativity. I love the communication that takes place between the photographer and the subject and how that is reflected in an image. I love the sensation that I get when I suddenly visualize an image in my mind and the great excitement of trying to re-create that image through a photograph. The most amazing thing about taking pictures is that my focus is incredibly steady and my restless mind never wanders. It’s an incredible feeling that I can only compare to practicing meditation, which I regularly do.
Also, I’m a pretty shy person (although most people don’t perceive me that way) and staying behind the camera allows me to stay hidden and protected, but if you look closer, you see my soul in each picture, one way or another. I agree with what Oscar Wilde said: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

Finally what advice would you give to people who are chasing their dream? Not just photographers – but anyone who is working towards something they love?

Find what you love for real, what you are passionate about and pursue it wholeheartedly. I believe the obstacles you encounter along the way are like checkpoints. They are there to show you how much you really care about what you are doing. Sometimes, you need to be tested to prove this. Also, don’t be afraid to change your mind. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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maeve
Arts, Books

Beloved Irish author Maeve Binchy passes away | Jamie Tuohy

Maeve Bincy, the treasured Irish author, famous for novels such as  ‘Circle of Friends’ and ‘Light a Penny Candle’ has passed away, following a short illness.

The 72-year-old writer, who sold more than 40 million books worldwide, is survived by her husband Gorden Snell.

Maeve was one of Ireland’s best-loved authors, and her sharp wit and depiction of Irish rural life made her a household name, both at home and abroad. A number of her novels, including the famous ‘Tara Road’ were made into Hollywood films.

Having worked as a teacher and journalist following her graduation from University College, Dublin, Maeve went on to become a prolific writer of short stories and published over a dozen novels.

Born in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Maeve Binchy was easily Ireland’s best-known novelist and beloved by many.

Rest In Peace, Maeve.

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Arts, Hamlet, Lifestyle, Theatre

Absolut Fringe 2012: What I’m hoping to see!

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From the 8-23 September, Dublin is the place to be with the ABSOLUT Fringe Festival taking place over the course of the fortnight.

The festival, which is in its 18th year, is Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary arts festival and promises to bring the very best in contemporary and innovative performances to venues all over the city.

The 2012 Fringe Festival will be a haven of artistic creativity, with everything from art, theatre, comedy and circus performances being held in a wide variety of venues ranging from traditional theatres to quaint cafes.

This year’s Fringe Festival looks bigger and better than ever before and it’s a must-see event for all the family! Here are some of the performances I hope to attend:

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U-R-Amleth

Everyone knows that the origins of Shakespeare’s stories weren’t always from the complex workings of his inner mind. He borrowed from legends, some may even say he plagiarised, and this show asked if Shakespeare was a “literary genius or a thieving shit?” This play by Jason Byrne, Gavin Kostick and Conor Madden (who has played the Danish prince with Second Age theatre company) explores the man who inspired Shakespeare’s multi-faceted protagonist – Amleth. For Hamlet nerds such as myself, this is a must see!

Tickets are €10 and it’s taking place in Bewley’s Café Theatre. For times and dates, check out:

http://www.fringefest.com/programme/u-r-hamlet

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FOIL, ARMS AND HOG…CYMBOLOGY

The Irish Times are calling this “the funniest shit ever” and this comedy show has sold out at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival for the last four years! The show promises to offer “wickedly twisted characters, unpredictable scenes and high energy performances” and without knowing much more, I’m heading to the International Bar to check it out!

Here are the statistical deets: http://www.fringefest.com/programme/cymbology

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Death of a Tradesman

No, I haven’t got the name wrong. This is not Arthur Miller’s play with the wrong name. This promises to be a fantastic play about an Irishman who dreams of dollar bills, but is running low on luck and funds. It’s about Willy, a 54-year-old tradesman who has a “bad back and a short fuse”. No doubt a product of recessionary Ireland, Death of a Tradesman is about “an army of men and the live register.” This should be an interesting and poignant production. I’ll definitely be going to the Project Arts Centre to check it out.

http://www.fringefest.com/programme/death-of-the-tradesmen

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Arts, Books

My summer re-reading list – Jamie Tuohy

Studying a course which is delineated by literature and almost posthumously controlled by literary giants requires me to read at a lightening pace. Reading, or rather devouring at least 6 books a week for college, not to mention sourcing secondary reading material leaves very little time for dwelling on plot, character or setting. Studying English at university level means that you have to be on top of your game all of the time – you have to be able to consume the novel, understand its themes, analyse it, psychoanalyse it, deconstruct it and then do that at least 6 times over within the space of a week. So, when summer comes, it’s no surprise that I like to abandon Trinity’s reading list and reacquaint myself with my favourites – books that I can and have read over and over again. It takes a lot for a book to merit re-reading, but here are 3 books that are always present on my summer reading list and never get old:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

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Anyone who knows me knows that this is my all-time favourite book. Jack Kerouac’s generation defining novel races across the page just as vivaciously as its protagonist Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty race across America. Set in 1950s America, On the Road embodies the generation Kerouac became the prime exemplar for – Beat. Largely autobiographical, the novel partly details Kerouac’s life and vision of a tainted American dream, filled with passion, sex, drugs, poetry and jazz. The writing is sublime – sharp, honest, brutal and unyieldingly spirited. The novel is full of life – it speaks to life itself in all its glorious forms, from down and out hitchhikers in Denver to the fast-paced American life style available in places like New York and San Francisco. A must read. I’ve just finished reading this for the 4th time and it’s as gripping and powerful as the first day I read it. Read this and then read Allan Ginsberg’s poem “America” for the true Beat experience. Here’s my full review of On the Road: https://jamietuohy.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/book-review-on-the-road-by-jack-kerouac-jamie-tuohy/

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

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If Kerouac’s On the Road is a hallmark of the Beat Generation, then this Hemingway novel possesses the defining characteristics of an era known as the Lost Generation. A term which was created by Gertrude Stein, the Lost Generation refers to the generation that came of age following the end of World War 1. Published in 1926, Fiesta: The Sun Also is one of the first Modernist novels and is about a group of American and British expats who travel from Paris to Spain to experience the hedonistic atmosphere of the bullfights. Hemingway’s protagonist is Jake, a journalist living in Paris, who is madly in love with English socialite Brett Ashley. Just like On the Road, this is a remarkable novel that merits re-reading over and over again. It’s powerful, intensely evocative and a visual and sensual feast. The bullfight in Pamplona is one of the novel’s most famous sections and gets even more wild and raucous the more you read it. This is a classic novel which established Hemingway as a literary genius. An essential read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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I promise you, I did not search around 1920s Parisian cafes and bars to pluck out two of literature’s most famous writers and drinking buddies. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are two of literary world’s most celebrated friends and influential writers, and Gatsby and Sun have also been compared to each other, but that isn’t why I’ve chosen them. So what if they may be similar testaments to a Lost Generation? They exist as separate stories and bloody good ones at that! The Great Gatsby will undoubtedly invade popular culture in the coming months with the movie to be soon released and fashion gurus everywhere claiming that their 1920s flapper dress is ‘oh so Gatsby’. While this is inevitable, it still makes my blood boil. In an ideal world, all comparisons would be nullified unless F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book has actually been read (and in my world, all comparisons are; nullified). Undoubtedly F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best novel, The Great Gatsby offers readers an indicting insight into 1920s America which is glamorous, desperate and full of nouveau riche types. Amongst the champagne-sipping exists Fitzgerald’s protagonist, Jay Gatsby – whose wild Long Island parties are legendary. However, as the narrator Nick Carraway finds out, Gatsby’s wealth is futile, when all he really wants is the affection of Daisy Buchanan. Fitzgerald tells the story of America’s Jazz Age and offers a social commentary on the ruthless 20s, where social climbing, murder and manipulation lurk beneath the glamorous, champagne-coated surface. A story that never gets old. Read it before you see the movie!

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Arts, Showbiz

Bailey’s East End: A return home for world-famous photographer – Jamie Tuohy

World-renowned photographer David Bailey has photographed everyone from The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol to Kate Moss and Jerry Hall. His iconic photography and keen eye for social nuances helped him to capture, create and define the ‘Swinging Sixties’. To those who think of Bailey as merely a fashion or portrait photographer, his latest exhibition might come as surprise, but for those who are familiar with his diverse interests, Bailey’s East End will be a true reflection on a world-famous photographer who never forgot his East End roots.

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Christchurch at Spitalfields, 1962
Image: David Bailey

The exhibition, which is running at Compressor House in East London from July 6 – August 5 hosts a series of images, split into three parts. There are black and white street shots, modern digital street shots and a wide array of large colour prints, featuring images from the 60s to the present day. Essentially, it’s constructed on the basis of images from the 60s, 80s and recent years. Bailey has said that he has abandoned fashion photography and the exhibition houses candid shots of London’s East End residents, touching landscapes and famous portraits, including one of notorious London gangsters, the Kray twins.

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Bailey captured this man in 1968.
Image: David Bailey

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Bailey’s wife Catherine in 1983 at Silvertown Docks
Image: David Bailey

Bailey’s East End is part of the Create 2012 programme, which aims to “bring creative and inspiring art to hundreds of people” and seeks to nurture creative ambitions within the community. Not completely ignoring fashion, the former Vogue photographer has included some famous faces in the exhibition, but they are juxtaposed amongst towering cranes and changing streetscapes. As well as documenting the East End’s transformation over the years, Bailey includes some images from the streets of Stratford, as preparations are underway for the 2012 Olympics.

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Two women in Newham, 2007
Image: David Bailey

 For over 50 years, David Bailey has been one of the world’s most successful photographers and his new exhibition is not only a tribute to place he came from, but a representation of the enormous achievement of one of the East End’s most famous son’s. Speaking about his return to his home place David said, “London’s East End is in my DNA and I’m thrilled to be able to return to my roots in Newham. Now the rest of the world will focus on an area I’ve been looking at all my life”.

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