Festival Theme 2019


Westival 2019 takes inspiration from, and pays homage to the theme ‘BRITTLE / FRAGILE’. The festival’s heart, its flagship visual-arts exhibition, will reflect this theme by inviting art submissions that relate to the theme along with a major glass exhibition – the most brittle and fragile of constructs. Broadening out from here to encompass the entire programme, the theme is wide open to a myriad of interpretations, and fertile ground for creativity.

As concepts, brittleness and fragility are often construed as negatives, but participants can  explore their inherent strengths as well as their frailties. On a personal level, for example, the experience of being fragile or vulnerable can help us to grow stronger and more empathetic; having the courage to be vulnerable with another human helps us create strong, deep connections; witnessing something or someone’s fragility produces feelings of protectiveness, a desire to shield, to safeguard.

Beyond the intimate, so much in our world seems fragile today. Wars, political extremes, intolerance, border tensions and inequality all conspire to create a brittle, fractured geopolitical landscape governed by brittle, prickly personalities.

But our planet is probably the greatest embodiment of fragility. Teetering on the edge of environmental annihilation, its delicate ecological balance has been thrown utterly out of whack. Can we find the strength to protect it, to save it? To save ourselves?

Fragility and brittleness also imply transience; something with no guarantee of permanence, something that could disappear if touched. Something ethereal, delicate, fine, flimsy, dainty.

And there’s always the dreaded ‘fragile hangover’, when your whole body and soul feel as brittle as sugar glass. Or what about fragile masculinity? Or brittle bones? Or the classic hopeful, trusting, pleading instruction on a parcel: FRAGILE. Be careful. I break easily. Handle me with care. I’m worth it.

We at Westival are certain that no matter how ‘BRITTLE / FRAGILE’ is interpreted across the programme, it will generate many exciting, meaningful, fun, thought-provoking, creative and colourful responses, and a festival to remember: strong enough to celebrate the fragile, confident enough find the craic in the brittle!