Ireland appears to be awash with photography in 2011. From PhotoIreland to Belfast Photo Festival, (both of which Source particpated in as hosts as well as attendees), and still to come in Dublin Contemporary and in the Douglas Hyde (Mike Disfarmer coming soon) it seems to be celebrated more than ever before.
Even IMMA in Dublin has a show until the 9th October, exclusively on photography, "Out of The Darkroom" showing the collection of David Kronn. Though they admit in their press release that they don't yet have a permanent collection of photography, it seems clear they are finally willing to admit photographic works into their fold;
"Although lacking a representative photographic collection, IMMA has to date sought to compensate for this by presenting a number of significant photographic exhibitions drawn from external sources... Commenting on the Kronn donation, IMMA’s Director, Enrique Juncosa, said: “David Kronn’s commitment to making IMMA the future home of his photography collection positions us as a major force in the field and comes at an opportune moment, when the museum would not have the resources to buy such prime works.”
The attendance at the photography festivals was certainly encouraging for those who may have been trying for years to find like-minded photographers and artists on this Island and it seems very likely that both of these festivals will continue in some form. Not only are the shows increasing, but there is also a growing number of ways in which the general public can engage with photography, increasing short courses and night classes, growing degree and postgraduate courses even.
I was lucky enough to be invited along to the opening of Noel Bowler's show, "Making Space" at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin on the 8th September.
It was opened with a few words from Jackie Barker from the Millenium Court Arts Centre, who will be showing the same work at a later date. Carefully touching upon the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, Jackie felt the work highlights an important time for Ireland, as a country in its multicultural infancy. The work also included portraits taken as part of an earlier project with Dublin City Council's Office for Integration.
No doubt I'll also visit a few tonight as part of Culture Night Belfast, more than I would have been able to do even 5 years ago. Thanks to the long hard slog of institutions like Belfast Exposed (Mary Mcintyre show on now as featured in Source 68) and Gallery of Photography who continued to herald photography as an artistic medium in Ireland, long after the need for argument had ended elsewhere, (not of course to forget the tacit support of Source) we now have a healthy fledgling community of practising photographers, artists and photo-curators as well as the audience interest to justify the years in the darkroom! Long may it continue...