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Portrait Joe Sterling
Portrait Joe Sterling

Joe Sterling

Born 1954, July, 29th (Dublin)


Dublin born Joe Sterling received a Higher National Diploma in Design for Communications from Dún Laoghaire school of Art and Design in 1980.

In 1989 he began teaching photography at Sallynoggin college of further education.

He would go on to receive a BA Hons degree in Documentary Photography from Newport college University of Wales 1999.

He received National recognition for his exhibition “Acting Normal” a series spanning 1995 to 2004 that sought to explore the ongoing relationship of a father and his children after divorce. The work was featured in the National Gallery of Photography Dublin, The Mermaid Gallery, Bray and as a segment on RTE’s Nationwide, and The View respectively.

2009 would see him become the recipient of an MFA In Fine Art Photography from Newport college University Wales. His Graduation show “Working Distance” examined the lived experiences of polish migrants coming to work in Ireland, leaving their homes in Poland as generations of Irish had done before. 

2011 exhibition Wanderings in France was a ten year retrospective of journeys to France tracing and contrasting the iconography of various regions. It was exhibited in the Alliance Fracaise Dublin.

In 2014 he co-founded with Christine Redmond The History of Photography and critical practice Module for the NCEA national council for educational awards. His longest ongoing body of work Obair Chrua (Hard Going) from 1991-2022 Chronicles the lives of small island communities off the cost of Connamara as their lifestyle and traditions disappear. It was published by Cafe Royal Books, England in 2020.


Appears in


Photography books with contribution by the artist

  • 1999, Source, “Source Magazine n19”,Belfast, ISSN 1369-2224
  • 2010, THIS IS IT GALLERY, “Home”,Dublin, a contemporary photographic exhibition
  • 2011, Justin Carville, Photography and Ireland, Dublin, Reaktion Books, ISBN 978-1861898715 2


Solo exhibitions

  • 2017, Obair Chrua – images from the island, Galway City Gallery, Ireland.
  • 2004, Acting Normal, Christine Redmond, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2011, Wanderings in France, Francoise Brung, Alliance Francaise, Dublin, Ireland.

Group exhibitions

  • 1992, fêtes Irlandaises,n/a, exhibition of Irish and Canadian Photography, Montreal, Canada. 
  • 1998, Portrait and Identity, Christine Redmond, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland
  • 1999, Acting Normal, Source Commission, Old Museum Art Center, Belfast, Ireland.
  • 2008, Working Distance, University of Wales, The Turner Gallery Wales, UK.
  • 2009, Working Distance, Christine Redmond, Airfield House, Dublin, Ireland.


  • Obair Chrua Inis Mhic Cionnaith (1991)

    This CRB edition features Joe Sterling’s images of the occupants of Inis Mhic Clonnaith, an incredibly small island off the coast of Galway. In these photos, Sterling preserved the culture of the island, whose younger population had been steadily leaving for a life on the mainland. Sterling shot the residents over a period of 28 years, documenting the a way of life which was evaporating in front of him.

    Published by Café Royal Books
    32 pages
    140 x 200 mm3


External links & References