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Ethna O’Regan
Ethna O’Regan

Ethna O’Regan

Born 1971, (Galway)

Ethna O’Regan (Galway, 1971) received her BA (Hons) in Photography from the Dublin Institute of Technology (now TU) in Ireland.

She had her first solo exhibition in the m3 Kunsthalle, Berlin in 2009 and also showed at the Goethe Institute, Dublin as part of ‘New Irish Works’ in the PhotoIreland Festival, 2013.

She has produced photographic series in Ireland, America, Germany and the Ukraine and has exhibited them internationally.

O’Regan has been nominated for the Berlin Art Prize, 2014, EI Award Braga 2015, Shortlist Athens Photo festival, 2015, 2016, 2020 and Shortlist Eva International, Ireland, 2016.

Her work ranges from the personal to the social and political, identifying moments where these states coincide.1


Appears in

Photobooks by the artist

  • 2019, Beyond Reach, Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 97838682894042019 2

Awards and honours

  • 2018, Portfolio review award, Athens Photo festival, Athens, Greece.
  • 2017, Landskrona Portfolio Review Award, Landskrona, Sweden.
  • 2016, Eva International (shortlist), Limerick, Ireland.
  • 2016, Athens Photo Festival (shortlist), Athens, Greece.
  • 2015, Encontros da Imagem Award (selection), Braga, Portugal.
  • 2015, Athens Photo Festival (shortlist), Athens, Greece.
  • 2014, Berlin Art Prize, Berlin, Germany.
  • 2012, Salon Art Prize, Matt Roberts Arts, London, England.
  • 2012, Self Publish Be Happy, (Honourable mention), London, England.
  • 2011, Salon Photo Prize, Matt Roberts Arts, London, England.
  • 2009,Visual Arts Bursary Award, Arts Council


Solo exhibitions

  • 2021, Nov 5th – Dec 4th, After Magdalene, KultourDiele, Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany. 
  • 2020, Oct 1st – Dec 1st, Beyond Reach, part of the European Month of Photography, The Irish Embassy, Berlin, Germany. (Oct 1st  Dec 1st)
  • 2019, After Magdalene, part of St. Brigid’s Day-Celebrating the Creativity of Women, The Irish Embassy, Berlin, Germany.               
  • 2013, July 11th to July 30th, Any moment now, PhotoIreland Festival, The Return Gallery, Goethe Institute, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2009, Nov 15th to Nov 29th, After Magdalene, Kunsthalle m3, Berlin, Germany. 

Group exhibitions

  • 2022, RHA 192nd Annual Summer Show, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2018, Portfolio match, Hamburg Photo Triennial, Germany.
  • 2017, Transitions Ep.1: Splintered Planes, Dadapost Gallery, Berlin, Germany.
  • 2015, Waterworks, Berlin, Germany.
  • 2015, Kolt, PhotoIreland Festival, Artbox, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2015, PhotoIreland Portfolio Review, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2012, PhotoIreland Portfolio Review, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2010, Demise en scene, PhotoIreland Festival, Monster Truck, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2008, RHA 178th Annual Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2007, International Graduates Exhibition, Catalyst Arts, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • 2007, RDS Student Awards Show, Ballsbridge, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2007, Iontas Small Works Exhibition, Sligo Art Gallery, Ireland.
  • 2007, Photoworks 2007, National Photographic Archive, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2005, Iontas Small Works Exhibition, Sligo Art Gallery, Ireland.
  • 2005, Portrait Ireland, Newtownbarry House, Wexford, Ireland.
  • 2003, Iontas Small Works Exhibitions, Sligo Art Gallery, Ireland.  


  • After Magdalene (2006-2009)
    These images were made in the last of the Magdalen laundries to be closed down on Sean McDermot Street in Dublin in 1996. Forty of the women continued to live on there, unable to return to an independent way of existence, until they were re-housed in 2006.
    The building had already fallen into disrepair when I was given permission to go in and photograph the rooms where the women had lived, the dining halls, corridors and recreational spaces. It is hard to describe the utter feeling of desolation, the sense of despair and isolation that was palpable everywhere. It seemed to permeate the very wallpaper and floorboards of the place.
    What I wished to set out to do with my photographs was on the one hand to make a documentation of the cruelty and savagery of the powerful over the powerless, and on the other to carry out an act of salvage. I wished to transform memory into remembrance in an attempt to restore dignity and humanity to these women who had been robbed of both by a bigoted and misogynistic Catholic Church. 3
  • Demise en scène (2010)
    Demise en scène is work that delves in to the vernacular and commercial visual surrounding the holiday experience. Many travellers are compelled by the futile quest of capturing essences of natural beauty that live up to their holiday experiences. In this work, the artist is looking the other way, unraveling the mechanics operating in perceptions of amusement and pleasure.
  • Any moment now (2012)
    The images from this series, though mainly taken in the banality of an urban landscape in San Diego, seek to dig deeper, tapping into our collective psyche by navigating the strange terrain of our inherent, yet futile quest for absolute certainty. 4
  • Nothing is ever over (2014)
    ‘ I can be far from glad in remembering myself to have been glad, and far from sad when I recall my past sadness. Without fear I remember how at a particular time I was afraid…I remember with joy a sadness that has passed and with sadness a lost joy.’ St. Augustine (X. xiv)
  • Beyond Reach (2013-2019)
    In this work I take the viewer on a visual journey using landscape as a metaphor in order to create a feeling of remembrance for the victims of the Berlin Wall. If one now embarks on a journey on foot or by bike along the 91 mile-long so-called Mauerweg (the wall trail) along the former border between West Berlin and Brandenburg, one is struck by the abundance of lush growth and woodland around the circumference of the city. This is due to the current policy of letting nature take over where the death strip used to be.
    But as I travelled along the trail I now and again came across memorials to people – often male, often young – who lost their lives trying to cross the border from East to West. The poignancy of these reminders of a now almost forgotten past motivated me to explore further and let my photographic record of the landscape in all its innocence tell the story. It is with awe and sadness that I went along the Mauerweg and I wish to dedicate this work to the memory of the victims of a painful history.


External links & References

  1. “About” Ethna O’Regan