Flann is still the man

A NEW exhibition exploring the work of celebrated Strabane author Flann O’Brien has opened at the Alley Theatre.

Entitled, ‘The Ever-Widening Spiral,’ the exhibition uses both traditional and technical mediums to bring its themes to life. The work is inspired by O’Brien’s writing, in particular ‘The Third Policeman’ and comprises different artistic mediums.

Responsible for the exhibition are local artists Eddie, Joanna, and David O’Kane. Edie explains how it all came about.


“Well, my son David and I are huge fans of Flann O’Brien’s work, with The Third Policeman as our favourite story, so it was only natural that we would be interested in interpreting it for an exhibition. As far as I’m concerned, Flann is up there with titans of Irish literature like Beckett and Joyce.

“David and I got grant assistance around ten years ago to go over to Boston College and examine his works which are stored there. Once there, we found a wealth of stuff ripe for interpretation and set to work. Flann was very much inspired by his surroundings, not just in Strabane but also within the local area, where he would often go for bike rides soaking up the people and places for his stories. Although it’s based in the Midlands, it’s my belief that The Third Policeman was very much inspired by the people in Strabane.

“The art on display delves into many aspects of Flann’s life, from the times he spent at the local cinema, to his writing and stories he would have heard from his family. There’s also a scientific element. Flann was fascinated by science, and I became familiar with 3D printing to make sculptures of the scientific inventions mentioned in his writing. The Arts Council and Creative Ireland were instrumental in helping with that as was a talented lecturer in engineering Chris Roulston.”

This exhibition is part of a series of exhibitions being shown in venues including Salzburg University, Burns Library, Boston College, USA, and Boston College Headquarters, Dublin and comprises of mediums such as painting, sculpture, print, film, and animation.

Eddie continued, “I’m delighted to see it in Strabane, it makes sense to have the exhibition in the place where Flann began.”

The exhibition was opened last Wednesday by Mayor of Derry City & Strabane Council Alderman Graham Warke. It is one of two Flann O’Brien exhibitions at the Alley Theatre, with ‘An Introduction to Flann O’Brien – A Man of Mystery’ running till 2022.

For those unfamiliar with his works, Eddie says he hopes the exhibition will inspire a whole load of new followers.

“I believe the exhibition will show that there’s an awful lot to his work and it’s my hope it would inspire people to read him and what kind of writer he was. It’s important we have pride in one of Strabane’s sons.”

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