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Paul Gaffney
Paul Gaffney

Paul Gaffney

Born 1979, (Navan, Ireland)

Paul Gaffney holds an MFA in Photography from Ulster University and his practice-led PhD research explores different ways of experiencing and representing the landscape, and how the act of image making can both enable and disrupt a sense of flow and connection with our environment.

His work has received a number of awards including the Arts Council’s `Next Generation Award’ and Visual Arts Bursaries, the FSAS Digital Media Award, and a Strategic Projects Award from Wicklow Arts Office.

Bio & Career

Gaffney’s books have been nominated for the Photobook Award at the International Photobook Festival Kassel (2013 & 2016) and shortlisted for the European Publishers Award for Photography, and he has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions in the US, UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and China.

“Gaffney’s photographs emerge out of intuition, coincidence, and an underlying longing for connection and stillness. And although it’s tempting to call them landscapes, they are created through different ways of knowing a place – ways that acknowledge the moving, feeling body, rather than the distanced and distancing eye, as the foundation of our experience.”

Eugenie Shinkle – Reader in Photography, University of Westminster


Appears in

  • 2017, Perigee, Dublin & Dudelange: Published in association with the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (CNA), Luxembourg, ISBN 978-2-919873-29-6
  • 2016, Stray, Dublin: self-published artist’s book
  • 2014, 3 Jours a Tharoul, Tharoul: unique artist’s book
  • 2013, We Make the Path by Walking, Dublin: self-published, ISBN 978-0-9926004-0-2

Awards and honours

  • 2021, Strategic Projects Award, Wicklow Arts Office, Bray, Ireland 
  • 2018, Digital Media Award, Fire Station Artists Studios, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2017, Deutsche Borse Prize (nominated by Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland) 2016, Next Generation Artists Award, Arts Council, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2017, Visual Artists Bursary, Arts Council, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2016, Prix Pictet (nominated by Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland)
  • 2016, Photobook Award 2016, International Fotobook Festival, Beijing, China (nominated by Bertien van Manen)
  • 2015, MACK First Book Award (nominated by Karen Downey)
  • 2014, Travel and Training Award, Arts Council, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2013, Photobook Award 2013, International Fotobook Festival, Kassel, Germany (nominated by Ángel Luis González)
  • 2013, European Publishers Award for Photography (shortlisted) 
  • 2013, Johnsons Photopia Award, Format Festival, Derby, UK
  • 2013, Human Flows, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, UK


Solo exhibitions

  • 2016, November – December, PerigeeGallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2016, July, Stray, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2016, March – May Perigee, Centre national de l’audiovisuel, Dudelange, Luxembourg
  • 2015, October – November, Stray, Belfast Exposed, Belfast, Northern Ireland 
  • 2014, July, We Make the Path by Walking, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2014, February – March, We Make the Path by Walking, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales 
  • 2013, July, We Make the Path by Walking, Instituto Cervantes, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2013, We Make the Path by Walking, Cortona on the Move Festival, Italy
  • 2013, July, We Make the Path by Walking, Flowers Gallery, London, England 

Group exhibitions

  • 2022, Images Are All We Have, Printworks, Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2022, On the Irish Photobook, Printworks, Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2022, The Politics of Place, Photo Museum Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2022, National Photography Collection Inaugural Exhibition, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2021, Transitory, Centre Culturel de Serbie, Paris, France
  • 2020, The Time of our Lives, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2019, In Living Memory, Emo Court, Co. Laois, Ireland
  • 2019, NATURE MUSIC, Killarney House, Killarney, Ireland
  • 2019, Press Play, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2018, Biennial de la Photographie Mulhouse, Mulhouse, France 
  • 2018, Flux Feelings, Cercle Cité, Luxembourg 
  • 2018, Beyond View, Belfast Exposed, Belfast, Northern Ireland 
  • 2018, Terra Nostra, Wexford County Council Offices, Wexford, Ireland
  • 2018, J Book Show, Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland
  • 2018, The Romantic Landscape, Noorderlicht Gallery, Groningen, Netherlands 
  • 2017, Flux Feelings, La Chapelle de La Charité, Les Rencontres d’Arles, France 
  • 2017, Post-Picturesque: Photographing Ireland, Rochester Arts Centre, Rochester, MN, USA
  • 2017, Post-Picturesque: Photographing Ireland, Perlman Teaching Museum, Carleton, MN, USA 
  • 2017, 4 Photographers, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2017, Photobook Phenomenon, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Spain 
  • 2016, In Residence II, Oliver Sears Gallery, Fitzroy Square, London, England
  • 2016, IAWATST – images from the State Art Collection – Dublin Castle, The Lab & other venues, Ireland & Northern Ireland
  • 2016, Phototropism, The Library Project, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2015, In Residence, Oliver Sears Gallery, Fitzroy Square, London, Ireland
  • 2015, A Lonely Impulse of Delight (150 years of W.B.Yeats), traveling group exhibition organised by SO Fine Art to multiple venues in Ireland, China, Japan etc.
  • 2015, Give Way, Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford, Ireland
  • 2015, Dali International Photography Festival, Dali, China 
  • 2015, Fraction of a Second, University Of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, USA
  • 2015, 185th RHA Annual Show, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2015, The Natural Collection, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2015, Indie Photobook Library Exhibition, Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2014, Senza meta. Il libro come pensiero fotografico, Fotografia Europea Festival, Reggio Emilia, Italy 
  • 2014, In a Landscape, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Ireland
  • 2014, 133rd RUA Annual Show (Invited Artist), Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2014, How One Thing Leads to Another, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, USA 
  • 2014, How One Thing Leads to Another, Cordon Potts Gallery, San Francisco, USA 
  • 2014, UU/Yale MFA Photography Exhibition, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2014, F Book Show, Gallery 72, Tokyo
  • 2014, Landscape #1, Guest Projects, London
  • 2013, Unfolding Images, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA, USA
  • 2013, Present Tense, South Studios, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2013, New Talent, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2013, Exposure, In Toto Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 2013, New Irish Works, düo, Paris, France
  • 2013, Human Flows, CRASSH, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England
  • 2012, Project 30, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2012, Foto8 Summershow, Host Gallery, London, England
  • 2012, Open Now, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2012, MFA Photography Interim Exhibition, Red Barn Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2012, Open Now, Gallery Nine, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • 2010, Foto8 Summershow, Host Gallery, London, England
  • 2010, ffotoCardiff, Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, Wales



  • Perigee (2015-16)

Perigee refers to the point in the moon’s orbit at which it is closest to Earth. Walking through forest landscapes by daylight, I documented my wanderings using polaroids. Later, I re-explored certain routes after nightfall, to photograph under the light of the full moon. Bathed in its soft otherworldly glow, the forest’s narrow steep valleys evoke a mysterious, psychological wilderness in what is, in reality, a highly managed man-made environment.
The project was published as a set of two photobooks with magnetic cover design which act as a metaphor for the lunar cycle and relationship between the moon and earth.

  • Stray (2014)

My practice-led research is concerned with how we experience landscape through movement, in a multisensorial and tactile way, rather than organising and viewing it from a separate, isolated distance, as per the rules of the Western pictorial tradition.
In particular, I am interested in exploring how the non-visual senses may be activated to develop a heightened awareness of both the body and environment, and one of these approaches has included walking and photographing in forests at night.
Stray was made in near total darkness and its sequence of images suggests a slow careful movement through a dark, enclosed space.

  • We Make the Path by Walking (2012)

During 2012 I walked over 3,500 kilometres with the aim of creating a body of work which would explore the idea of long-distance walking as a form of meditation and personal transformation.
My intention was to create a series of quiet, meditative images, which would explore the experience of being immersed in nature and capture the essence of the journey. The images seek to engage the viewer in this walk, and to communicate a sense of the subtle internal and psychological changes which one may undergo while negotiating the landscape.