Over the course of half a century, Henry Glassie has carried out discipline research and written numerous papers and publications on folklore, music and ethnology. He has travelled the world insatiably in pursuit of this, touching down in all places from Eire to Turkey, Brazil and Japan, in addition to the Appalachians of his native southern states within the US.
rawn by Bloody Sunday and the broader battle, Glassie got here to rural Fermanagh within the Seventies and spent greater than a decade embedded locally of the tiny village of Ballymenone. There, he documented the music and oral custom of its 150 inhabitants in intimate element.
The documentary filmmaker and Aosdána member Pat Collins heard Glassie talking one evening a decade in the past on RTÉ’s Arts Tonight and established contact with the folklorist.
In Glassie, Collins heard simply the sort of topic that he typically gravitates in direction of in his extraordinary filmmaking: impressed intellects who infiltrate cultural realms with coronary heart, inspiration, and an eye fixed on posterity.
Tim Robinson: Connemara (2011) was one such portrait, whereas Collins has additionally educated his distinctive lens on novelist John McGahern and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.
Collins and his crew accompanied Glassie and his spouse on discipline excursions to Brazil to doc craftsmen and artisans specialising in sacred artwork, and it’s right here that we start.
In describing his strategy to discipline work, Glassie namechecks Woman Gregory’s philosophy: reverence and endurance. As a substitute of learning the individuals essentially, he would stand beside them and regard what they’re doing.
Collins adopts an analogous angle for the opening third of the movie, observing Glassie’s topics with fly-on-the-wall discretion. We open with a gentleman sculpting an elaborate determine of a saint out of clay, his expression as calm and centred as hers as his fingers delicately roll and fold and press.
An outdated grasp carves an enormous picket block into the likeness of a spiritual icon, and one other blinks over a soldering iron as he sculpts a determine of an archer out of scrap steel.
Collins’ body strikes between the fingers and the face with stealth. He captures each the channelled, unselfconscious psychological aspect, or “zone”, that the artist performs inside in addition to the extremely expert practices that they’ve honed to perfection over a lifetime.
There’s a very uncommon and mesmeric register to be discovered on this Galway Movie Fleadh winner, one which slows you proper right down to its tempo. It’s one thing Collins tends to do, and when he achieves this, not solely does his filmmaking take in you wholesale from the noise of the world, however issues discover their approach in – small delicate particulars that trendy life has no time for any longer, issues that accumulate as we start to note them and quantity to one thing quietly astonishing.
Very regularly, Glassie himself strikes into the foreground and begins to speak about himself and his unimaginable journey to set out and catalogue these craftspeople.
Appalachian folks singers, carpet weavers within the distant Turkish hinterland, Irish seanchaís and musicians, potters in North Carolina, all amalgamate their our bodies and hearts within the creation of artwork and “a momentary fulfilment of what it’s to be human”, as Glassie places it.
Collins lastly brings Glassie again to Fermanagh to stroll in his outdated footsteps and go to the ghosts of that period who so enriched his research there.
As we be part of him, you come to see that Glassie himself is now the craftsman who has come into central focus, and by him in the middle of his personal work, issues are being revealed about his explicit essence.
However what additionally happens to us within the remaining passages is that there’s another body that may be positioned round all of the creating and observing that takes place on this distinctive movie, and it’s Collins and the movie itself.
What the Cork filmmaker does could be very a lot linked to concepts of craft, endurance and reverence, of issues unforced and given time and house to blossom of their pure rhythms.
As our consideration spans shrivel and we change into more and more reliant on on the spot fixes, filmmakers reminiscent of Collins are beginning to really feel increasingly more important in reminding us to cease and look slightly extra carefully at this world and the unimaginable individuals in it.