A free festival of visual art, soundtracked by Panorama DJs and hosted somewhere remote off the west coast of Ireland. It sounds like an unattainable utopian fantasy, but Drop Everything, so far funded entirely through online donations, is set to take place on Aran island Inis Oírr on May 18th, 19th and 20th. The brainchild of ARTISIT? co-founder and party-thrower extraordinaire Mary Nally, who turns up to our interview decked out in the most exuberant of jumpsuits and a pair of huge loopy earrings, Drop Everything is set to take boutique festivalling to a new level of brilliance.
Drop Everything started over a pint of Guinness. How did it grow from an idea over a few drinks to something that’s actually happening?
Yeah, it was a couple of pints of Guinness, I think. [laughs] To be honest though, the idea had been in my head for a while, I just hadn’t found the right location. Then I brought a couple of fashion designers over to Inis Oírr last year, and it clicked. I spoke to a few friends, and asked what they thought of doing something, and everyone seemed really into it. It just took off from there.
Inis Oírr sounds like an amazing setting…
Yeah, it’s class! It’s kind of magic. Only 200 people live on it, and it only has three pubs. You can stroll everywhere, and the weather’s usually pretty good for Ireland.
What’s the best way to get there?
There’s two ferry crossings – you can either get the boat from Doolin or Galway. We’ll have lots of information about that up on our website. You can also fly. It’s an eight minute flight, I think it’s the second shortest flight in the world. They weigh you before you get on, and somebody has to sit beside the pilot. It’s terrifying!
There seems to be a strong emphasis on the visual experience of the festival. What art events are you putting on?
Yeah, there’s a whole visual art aspect to it – Friday evening is going to be totally about visual art. At the moment we have about seven visual artists confirmed to come over, and they’re mostly doing site-specific work, so we won’t see it come together until the last minute. There are three artists from Iceland, who’ll also be doing a DJ set, then we’ve the Soundwalk collective from New York as well.
And what music events are you having?
We have Sóley doing a set, she’s also from Iceland and has just released her first album. It’ll be her first gig in Ireland, so she’s coming over to do a residency for about a week or so before, it should be great. There’ll be a DJ set from one of Panorama Bar’s resident DJs, as well.
What else is on the agenda?
We’ll be doing a series of lectures and talks on fashion. We’re going to interview Sorcha O’ Raghallaigh and Raffaele Ascione, both of whom started in Ireland, and have gone on to be worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, so we’ll be talking to them about their experiences as young designers. We’ll have a pop-up restaurant as well, working with local suppliers – we’re going to try and source everything on the island. And lots of other, smaller pop-up things, many of which are still coming together.
The festival is completely free… How are you controlling things like capacity?
People will have to sign up for some of the events. Our funders on Fund:It will obviously get preference – whether they’ve donated a fiver or €500. But people can always go along and do things themselves – it’s not just a case of buying a ticket then expecting to be entertained. Come along and create your own party!
Is Drop Everything going to be a regular event?
Everything’s done on a voluntary basis, so it might be a bit unrealistic to try and do it every year. But I’ve loved working on it, it’s like organising a party for your friends, but on a much bigger scale. If all goes well, I think every two years would be ideal.
Drop Everything takes place on May 18th, 19th and 20th.
Donate to Drop Everything on Fund:It here.
Words: Rosa Abbott