Beckett and the Visual Arts

Beckett and the Visual Arts

Beckett and the Visual Arts and Media, 6-12 February 2009 was a collaboration of the Naughton Gallery, Drama Studies at Queen’s, the Queen’s Film Theatre, and Reading University. The programme marked the 20th anniversary of the death of globally renowned writer, Samuel Beckett, and included an exhibition of Beckett’s Doodles by artist Bill Prosser, a series of films including Beckett’s Film, and a seminar on Beckett and the Visual Arts and Media.

The Beckett and Visual Arts and Media programme was launched with an exhibition of Beckett Conference, Beckett and the Visual Arts, by Bill Prosser in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s. The images are based on the figurative doodles from the margins of Human Wishes, an unfinished play by Samuel Beckett written some time between 1937 and 1940. Prosser worked as an illustrator for many years with clients ranging from The Times to American Express. In 2008 his drawings were shown in The University of Rome and Art et Litterature in Paris.


The drawings in this exhibition form part of a research project entitledBeckett and the Phenomenology of Doodles, at the University of Reading, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which aims to bring attention to this little-known aspect of Beckett’s output.

Prosser is making a drawn catalogue of all Beckett’s spontaneous drawings held by the Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading, as well as an extended series of larger works. It is hoped that Beckett’s drawings can begin to be appreciated in their own right, and not seen simply as the quirky by-products of an iconic author.

The exhibition was accompanied by an introductory talk by Beckett expert, Professor Mary Bryden (University of Reading).

The Naughton Gallery also commissioned a new work by performance artist, Alastair MacLennan. The actuation, Killskill, based on Beckett’s work, took place on Friday 6th February, 12pm - 7pm [need link to the Naughton Gallery’s web sites.] ?? Alastair MacLennan is a former Professor of Fine Art at the University of Ulster and one of Britain’s leading practitioners of live art. Since the 1970s he has developed work for galleries and performance art festivals throughout the world, some of them lasting up to 144 hours each, non-stop, usually neither eating nor sleeping throughout. His subject matter generally deals with political, social and cultural malfunction. ??Killskill is an installation/actuation in the spirit of the work of Samuel Beckett, one of MacLennan’s seminal influences.

Queen’s Film Theatre and Drama at Queen’s hosted a day seminar on Beckett and the Visual Arts and Media, with talks by Professor Everett Frost (New York University), Professor Anna McMullan (Drama at Queen’s) and Dr Des O’Rawe (Film Studies at Queen’s). Professor Jonathan Bignell (University of Reading) and Drama graduate student,Patricia McTighe, introduced screenings of Beckett’s Film, starring Buster Keaton, and Keaton’s famous film, The General.

From 8th – 12th February, Queen’s Film Theatre hosted introduced screening of the Beckett on Film series: these are filmed adaptations of 19 Beckett plays produced by Blue Angel films (Michael Colgan and Alan Moloney) in association with Radio Telefís Eireann and Channel 4.