For press enquiries please contact:

Ben Eastop (Difference Exchange) on 07803 725 706
John Hartley (Difference Exchange) on 07769 582 156

Press Release: 8 May 2013

Colm Cille’s Spiral is a present-day re-imagination of ideas from the distant past spread by the sixth-century Irish monk Colm Cille, or St Columba, through an ambitious collaboration of artists, writers and academics.

Following an imaginary spiral, six contemporary artistic interpretations will link revered and significant sites from the furthest reaches of the UK and Ireland along once-vital perimeters and sea routes, to be re-presented at the end of the year in Derry-Londonderry as part of City of Culture 2013. The artworks and performances will be accompanied by talks and discussion in each ‘knot’ of the Spiral, enlightening and inspiring new understandings of a fascinating shared history of these islands.

“A project which uses the inspiration of the past to fuel creativity in the present and collaboration in the future.”

Michelle Brown, Professor Emerita, University of London

Colm Cille’s Spiral is being developed by London based agency Difference Exchange, in partnership with the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies (CLAMS) King’s College, London, and supported by King’s Cultural Institute (KCI).

The project will cross the modern national borders of Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland at a pertinent moment in their collective histories. Yet, the 6th century picture was very different. Colm Cille was a key figure at the heart of the explosion of culture and learning that emanated from early medieval Ireland and spread through and beyond the British Isles. Carried on this wave of monastic innovation, a new culture of word and image spread open access to knowledge. Some of our contemporary principles of tolerance and social justice, which will be explored by the project, can be traced back to Colm Cille’s legacy.

A new artist’s commission by Ceara Conway will be launched in Derry-Londonderry during St Columba Day festivities from 7 to 9 June 2013, before the ‘spiral’ moves on to the Western Isles and Glasgow; Lindisfarne, Bamburgh and Newcastle in the north east of England; Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex together with London; Lichfield, Staffordshire, linked with Llandeilo in Wales; and Dublin; then culminating with an ‘exhibition of exchanges’ – artistic products of each stage and a ‘creative conversation’ – back in Derry~Londonderry in December 2013.

For more information contact: 

Ben Eastop (Difference Exchange) on 07803 725 706
John Hartley (Difference Exchange) on 07769 582 156


Notes to Editors

The Spiral – Six knots

The Voice -Derry-Londonderry (7-9 June).

Performance and voice installation by Ceara Conway on the River Foyle arising from walks by the artist at significant Colm Cille sites from Donegal to Derry-Londonderry. Derry~Londonderry will also host the culminaton of Colm Cille’s Spiral in December involving further performances, a ‘creative conversation’ and final exhibition. Curated by Greg McCartney with curatorial support by Maggie McKeever.

A Convocation –Western Isles and Glasgow, Scotland.

Two ‘illuminators’ will creatively document a journey of thought and enquiry by artists and historians at the edges and then the centre of Scotland. A rumanatio will initially ‘chew over’ ideas on the island of Raasay followed by a revelatio sharing insights through discussion and exhibition at CCA Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art. Curated by Jenny Brownrigg, Mackintosh Museum, in collaboration with Atlas.

The Word – Newcastle, Lindisfarne and Bamburgh. Poets including Sean O’Brien and Colette Bryce will work with artists from the Culture Lab to deliver sound installations in St Aidan’s Church Bamburgh, and on Lindisfarne. Led by Professor Linda Anderson at the Centre for the Literary Arts, Newcastle University.

Ethical Knowledge – London and Essex.

Early career researchers will work with Marc Garrett from media arts group Furtherfield to explore and present insights on the ethics of knowledge at Bradwell-on-Sea, site of St Cedd’s church. This will provide a springboard for a subsequent artists commission and response.

The Book – Llandeilo, Wales and Lichfield, Staffordshire.

A contemporary, artistic response to the Chad Gospels, the history of which links Lichfield and Llandeilo, with installations in vitrines at Lichfield Cathedral and St Teilo’s church, Llandeilo, and talks in both locations. The new art works will re-examine exchanges between the contemporary world and the distant past and also between these two sites and their cultures. Curated by Mike Tooby.

The Object – Dublin, Ireland.

Artefacts from the time of Colm Cille will be reinterpreted in contemporary contexts to produce a set of public installations, forming an exploratory walk across the city. The installations will be accompanied by a series of talks by artists and leading academics in November 2013. Curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey with Ruairí Ó Cuív, Public Art Officer, Dublin City Council.

Key Partners

Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013

CLAMS, King’s College London, with the support of King’s Cultural Institute (KCI)

The Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies was founded in 1988. The range of subject interests covered and the chronological span of the period between Late Antiquity and the end of the Middle Ages make the Centre unique in Britain, while close relations with the Centre for Hellenic Studies provide a combination of Eastern and Western Medieval Studies that is extremely rare anywhere and without obvious parallel in this country.

King’s College London has a long tradition of supporting Medieval Studies, and over the years it has been home for some of this country’s leading medievalists. Today, the Centre continues to include among its members experts in a rich array of fields: late antique and Byzantine studies, all the major medieval languages and literatures, visual culture, palaeography and codicology, medieval history, music, philosophy, and theology.   The intellectual vitality of contemporary Medieval Studies is fully reflected in the diversity of the theoretical and methodological approaches practised by King’s medievalists, for whom the Centre provides a space and catalyst for the critical exchange of ideas.

Clare A. Lees, Professor of Medieval Literature and Director of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, King’s College London

Old and Middle English Language and Literature.

‘I am a medievalist who works mainly in early medieval literature from the perspective of contemporary Medieval Studies. My work is situated at the intersection of several disciplines: Anglo-Saxon Studies, which takes as its subject English language, literature and culture from about the late fifth century to about the mid-1100s; Medieval Studies, with its emphasis on inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary work; and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

My research projects include studies of gender and the history of women’s writing, religious literature and cultural studies, especially issues of place and landscape, relations between textual and material culture and, increasingly, reworkings of Anglo-Saxon literature by writers of modern, contemporary literature. I often work collaboratively with other medievalists who are similarly interested in contemporary theoretical discourse.’

Editor of The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2013). 

Michelle Brown, Professor Emerita, University of London, project advisor.

Research interests include: Manuscript studies, Palaeography and the role of the book as a cultural medium; the palaeography, codicology, art history and socio-historical context of medieval manuscripts; late antique and early medieval history and the material culture of Europe and the Levant; art and spirituality, historic and contemporary.

Peter Jenkinson OBE, cultural broker, project advisor.

Born in Essex, of English and Irish heritage, Peter has worked for over 20 years in the cultural sector, passionately advocating and acting for deep and lasting change across the cultural and political landscape.

In his current role as an independent Cultural Broker he works across a diverse portfolio of disciplines and sectors including broadcasting, public policy, regeneration, arts, creative industries and leadership development.  Prior to this Peter has had a distinguished and award-winning career working across the arts and culture, including his role as founding director of the initially £40 million Creative Partnerships programme and the initiation and delivery of the world-class £21 million The New Art Gallery  Walsall.

His key areas of interest include the critical roles of creativity, learning, innovation, diversity and broader cultural participation across society as well as a commitment to building social justice and intelligent democracy.

Based in London Peter is a Co-creator of Culture+Conflict launched in March 2011 and leads on International Cultural Liaison for Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.  He is a board member of the Drawing Room London, the International Curators Forum and the International Culture Arts Network Derry~Donegal.

Difference Exchange

Difference Exchange helps different worldviews consider flux, disruption and emergence.

By placing critical artistic practice in provocative contexts, we connect participants to share insights and skills with fresh disciplinary, social and geo-cultural perspectives. Recent projects address rivers, faith and wellbeing with publications, symposia and artists placements in the UK, Eurasia and the Far East.

The resultant outputs aim to progress the role of the arts, strengthen interdisciplinary networks and exchange creative insights and practical applications. The agency also provides consultancy services for universities, galleries, artists’ groups and businesses seeking creative solutions to developmental challenges.

Recent partners have included: University of the Arts; LCACE (London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange); King’s College London; St Georges House in Windsor; Periferry, Guawahati; Tokyo River Boat Association; Temple of Fine Arts, Kuala Lumpur; Lost Generation Space in Malaysia; Athens Biennale.

Difference Exchange has three co-directors:

John Hartley, Tim Eastop, and Ben Eastop

John Hartley is an artist and worked in the visual arts, architecture and interdisciplinary arts teams of Arts Council England’s National Office for nine years, most recently developing national strategy for Arts and Ecology and as lead officer for the Arts Council England Arts and Ecology partnership with RSA. He is now undertaking a PhD at University College Falmouth.

Tim Eastop is an experienced contemporary arts professional working in the UK and internationally across the arts with artists, curators, venues, academic institutions and the art market.

Ben Eastop is an independent art consultant specialising in commissioning and curating contemporary art beyond the gallery and art institution, working collaboratively with artists and other partners in the UK and internationally.