Fidelma O’Riordan reflects: Ancient Mariner

Today, in her second piece, Fidelma O’Riordan – Creative Apprentice at John Hansard Gallery – responds to The Ancient Mariner Big Read.

The Ancient Mariner Big Read is an inclusive, immersive work of audio and visual art reflecting the abiding influence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 18th century epic poem and it is free to access online.

Ancient Mariner
by Fidelma O’Riordan

Listening to the Ancient Mariner podcast made me want to read the poem, as I had never heard of it until I learnt about this exhibition. Before listening, I read a summary of the poem, just so I had some context. I enjoyed the podcast, because when you work on something for a long time, especially five years, you have a lot to reflect on that can’t be included in the final product that everyone sees. I think a podcast is a great way to hear an unscripted and personal response from the people who put the project together, as it provides anecdotes and further thoughts and context to the entire project. It was interesting to hear about the various people who connected to it and how their view on the poem changed as they worked on it or listened to it as the days went by, and how it made a lot of people feel included, especially in this trying time. Joining all the dots from the project planning to the various speaker’s own personal experiences was interesting to me, as I had never read the poem, but understood that many people felt like it was a universal experience that they held onto for many years.

In the podcast, they mentioned that theatre and writing is different to art as it can be rediscovered, adapted, and reinvented over the years, which I do not necessarily agree with – I think that the way that paintings and fashion design will influence modern art and trends is exactly the same thing as rediscovering a poem and finding a new meaning in it for the current times. I think that it can be difficult to find an original idea now when “everything has been done”, but I also think it is great, as to reference something or someone in your own work is a wonderful way to show admiration and joint understanding.

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