Arts Diary: Perfect tower for artistic retreat- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: Arts Diary: Perfect tower for artistic retreat
Date: 1999-04-26
Journal: The Belfast News Letter
Author: -
Type of resource: News items
Status: text
No. views: 1332
Description: history of the Cushendall Tower and Drummond's plan for an annual Cushendall art award (only residents can vote on the winner, and the art must have been produced by an artist in residence in the tower)

Arts Diary: Perfect tower for artistic retreat

By - (1999-04-26, The Belfast News Letter)

TO the north side of Cushendall's Mill Street, almost you might say in the shadow of Court Hill's fortress and Lurigethan and near the sweet curves of the river Dall, stands a remarkable 1809 40-foot slate-hung four-storey red sandstone tower, once the eccentric and demented disciplinary extravagance of Francis Turnly, a Nabob of the East Indian Company, and now to be the locus, learns The Diary invited to the village for tea and scones, of a remarkable experiment in the arts.

For just as Turnly had his eccentricities, the force behind the tower's new use has had his adventures and extravagances in the past. Now he's Bill Drummond, writer of journals published by Penguin. Once he was a member of rock group KLC whichtransmogrified itself into the iconoclastic and secretive K Foundation which once summoned journalists to a photo-call and burnt a real pounds 1 million in legal tender right before their very eyes as performance art.

Bill acquired Turnly's Curfew Tower from the Heart Revolving Fund, which had restored it under the watchful enthusiasm of architectural historian, author and poster designer Marcus Patton, who makes up the second of the triumvirate now governing theAnnual Cushendall Art Award. The third is acclaimed sound sculptor Susan Philips of Grassy Knoll Productions.

Hearth, when it had completed restoration, would have preferred a local resident, but when none came forward and when fire regulations prevented its operating as a NITB-approved holiday home, Bill came to the rescue, intending to live there and write.Two children later this has proved impossible.

Turnly wished the Tower garrisoned by an army pensioner provisioned with musket, bayonet, brace of pistols and four-metre pike. It was to serve as a place of confinement for idlers and rioters.

What Cushendall's citizens will make of their new tenants is not yet recorded but the In You We Trust trust is offering it out, rent free. It is available, for a week, to any artist, writer, photographer or whatever with suitable disciplinary proposals.Next summer, the village, not the Trust, will vote on the artworks which emerge and judge the winner.

"That night," says Bill, "in the village hall or Johnny Joe's Bar, or from the top of the tower, the winner of that year's election will be announced."

William Makepeace Thackeray lodged in an inn here, but the Diary concludes it is not Johnny Joe's. Pity, for W'll'm wrote of tackling in it a good dinner of fresh whiting and boiled bacon washed down with small beer. All for eight pence.

A brass trophy, in the form of model of the tower based on one made by the village school cook, will then be presented. Only members of Cushendall Parish may vote.

Proposals, slides, tapes, prints, CVs, should, Susan tells the Diary, be forwarded to the Trust c/o Heart Revolving, 66 Donegall Pass, BT7 1BU Tel/fax: 325033 e-mail:


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