So I spent last week in Ireland, how exiting! It was country I’ve wanted to visit for years, and it completely amazed me of how creative the atmosphere of Dublin and Belfast is. There was so much to see, so many beautiful paintings on each building, statues everywhere; it was Instagram heaven. I had an amazing time, and it really helped me expanse my photography knowledge and my knowledge of the country.
The first day was perhaps my favourite. I was tired from the early morning rise for the plane, but we ended up being surrounded by photography as soon as we landed. The first exhibition wasn’t particularly my favourite but it leads us on to the next really well. It was all about an Irish country musician, and it was created from her family albums from when she was a baby to a teen, and then as we moved around the exhibition there were photographs of her and her band that looked very rough and armature and then finally at towards the end, highly professional images. What I liked about this project was how every set of imagery contrasted the other, yet they all showed this strong visual passion of her for her music. It showed how her life had progressed into this glamorous way, yet it was the same thing that had leaded her there. I think its important to say that I didn’t realise this was one complete body of work until it was explain to us, which is interesting.
The next exhibition was curated by a team of people, and was explained to us by one of them. It was a curated project, where they scanned photographs. This imagery that they used was given to them after they painstakingly emailed hundred and hundreds of people, and only a handful replied. What’s interesting is, that now people are coming to see this moving exhibition, people are willingly giving their photographs to them. The body of work is all about family albums depicting life, and more specifically, Irish family life. There’s a huge range of images, from nuns who sold poor children to rich families to Churchill’s driver to people who took hidden cameras into prisons to document their life. From the Rolliflex camera to the digital compact camera, it’s all in there. However, the woman curating this said that she finds that the most interesting and intriguing imagery is to do with the potato famine. Another fascinating part to this project was the poster that she held up to show us. It showed a selection of certain histories and important photographic moments, and then aligning images as examples. For instance, it starts with the daguerreotype and then under that is the hidden mothers (mothers who were hidden with a blanket, therefore they could comfort the baby as well as getting a nice image) and under that is the First World War soldier’s e.c.t. The woman also made me realise how important the National Archive of Photography is, and how much it can benefit your project, It definitely made me excited to look it up, but she also worked closely with the National Archive of Political and Culture. She gave some really important information to help us develop our own work and skills, for example using cheap prints, e.g. using thin foam boards, which means the prints become moveable and perfect for quick pop-up exhibitions, and also buying cheap frames from stores like Ikea that are a reasonable size so that you can reuse them later on.
The second day was again really insightful. The first exhibition that I visited that day was Cycling The MGWR created by Pamela de Bri. Not only is it really relatable to my current project, but it was also really fascinating with the amount of different mediums she used to create a successful experience and show her narrative to best it could have been. De Bri uses video, portraits, linoprints, diaries and a sewn map. It was really informal and therefore it made it more personal and exciting, and I really felt a connection towards the work and my own current project. It became a true reality to me, and it showed her passion and I pay homage to her, her work as an artist and the fact she cycled 1,000km.
The second place I visited was the Irish Museum Of Modern Art. I had been so excited to go here as I had heard there was various exhibitions been shown that I really wanted to see. One of these was the 2014 Turner Prize winner, Duncan Campbell. I’d seen some of his films online, but I knew it would be a completely different experience seeing it first hand, and I was right. There was two screenings, the first Arbeit and the second Bernadette, and I would really recommend these for you if you like narratives. It created a really silent and chilling atmosphere. There was also a collection of pieces in the exhibition called Primal Architecture, which included the work of Kevin Atherton, Bedwyr Williams and Jesse Jones, but my favourite by far was Mike Kelley. It something that I thought I would have never gotten into, but there was one movie that I really liked, it was so bizarre it was brilliant. It was really inspiring to see something that was so different yet so confident, it had a child-like horror too them. I also saw the Mobile Encounters series, as well as other various work.
Today I also realised how genuinely nice Irish people are, I know I’m probably stereotyping, but in England if someone sees you with a camera they walk the largest circle just to avoid you, however in Ireland it became and almost like a magnet. People were telling me the best places to go and to see, the history of Ireland and their interest of knowing where were from and why we’re here. One of these was an old man, he was extremely nice and told me that we have to take a boat around the Irish bay for the best experience, he also told us that if we go further into the country, downwards, you’ll see the real history of country as well as some stunning landscapes and finally, we have to come back here because our countries are brothers and we rely on each other.
We spent the day in Belfast, and I visited one particular exhibition, at Belfast Exposed, which really caught my eye. It was a completely false story of several members of the Down Society of Modern Art, created by Sabina Mac Mahon. I couldn’t believe this was real, but at the same time everything was real. Some of the props that were used were the artists own, like the Jacobs cracker tin, where she found some genuine photographs. She also used paintbrushes, aprons and leaflets to give the impression that this was a real narrative in the 1920’s. It questions what is an archive is. And just because this wasn’t a true real account, does this have any less meaning, opinions or appreciation? I heard one of my peers talk about what’s the point of this if its all made up, but to me it showed me how much power you have as an artist.
There was also a small exhibition of some stage three work from photographers upstairs, and it was nice to see how much this gallery push for them to be seen and educated.
Not much happened today, we all went out for a last night yesterday, which was really nice, as it gave us time to bond as a group, and become closer. I’ve really enjoyed Ireland and I can’t wait to come back and be inspired by more artwork.