Taking the unusual power of the crown and the cloak wielded by the Prince Bishops of Durham as their starting point, Ní Ríain and Dale present INTONE, an installation piece comprising music, poetry and sculpture. The work reflects on the powerful public roles these men held and considers the imagined private world of worry that permeates the minds of men of faith who have had political responsibility thrust upon them.

The piece combines Ní Ríain’s new music composed for trumpet, performed by Brendan Ball, of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with a set of her poems inspired by portraits of the Prince Bishops. These same portraits were also the point of departure for Dale’s sculptural works which re-imagine the Prince Bishops’ robes – such a potent public symbol of their power – as a delicate almost skeletal framework upon which their worries and insecurities might more readily hang.

From 1075, the Prince Bishops were given powers enabling them to: hold their own parliament, raise their own armies, appoint sheriffs and Justices, administer their own laws, levy taxes and customs duties, create fairs and markets, issue charters, salvage shipwrecks, collect revenue from mines, administer the forests and mint their own coins. Indeed the Prince Bishops lived like kings in their ‘palaces’ in Durham City and Bishop Auckland.

Ailís Ní Ríain is an Irish composer and writer based in the South Pennines. She composes concert music, opera, music-theatre and site specific music. Her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall New York, the Royal Festival Hall in London, throughout Europe and on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. Her writing for theatre has been presented in Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Germany and London.

Nicola Dale is a visual artist based in Manchester. She is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors (ARBS) and has exhibited in exhibitions across Europe, America and Australia. She previously collaborated with Ailís Ní Ríain for the 2010 Liverpool Biennial. Nicola is supported by Mark Devereux Projects.

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