Photography in Ireland and the UK has in many cases been a grass roots activity, with the stimulus for the development of photography organisations coming from photographers and curators concerned with local issues. Siobhan Davis traces this story in the history of Open Eye gallery, in particular in the gallery’s archive which contains photographs collected from the various exhibitions and commissions that have been undertaken in the last 30 years.
The Gallery of Photography in Dublin received touring exhibitions from Open Eye in its early years. Today its Director, Tanya Kiang, says the challenge is to exhibit work that deals with the specific and particular about a local situation but which also understands a global context. She descibes how the Gallery’s current programme addresses this challenge.
A commitment to a particular place is a common theme for the three photographers in this issue. John MacLean has chosen to operate only within a 5 minute walking radius of his house in south London. A process that has forced him to re-explore a place dulled by familiarity. Pacing out the same terrain repeatedly he picks up on the minutiae and incremental changes in his neighbourhood.
Kim Cunningham grew up in the village of Laytown in County Meath. She was motivated to start photographing there to explore how it had shaped her own sense of identity. Beginning the project in 1997 during the boom in the Irish economy she was interested to see how the area would be effected by wider social changes. But more than ten years later she still finds that a pervasive sense of quiet and unchanged routines are integral to village life.
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is interviewed by Edward Welch. She discuses the beginnings of the Amber Collective, and becoming part of the community in Byker, which became the subject of a twelve year project published in 1983. Over twenty five years later and after its complete redevelopment she has returned to the area, finding new access points through involving herself in an asylum seekers support group. In Byker Revisited she continues to examine issues of identity and place.
About the Publisher
Source is a quarterly photography magazine, available in print and as a digital edition, published in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They publish emerging photographic work and engage with the latest in contemporary photography through news, thoughtful features and reviews of the latest exhibitions and books from Ireland and the UK. Their website brings together an archive of writing and pictures from the magazine alongside current features.1