I am very pleased that one of my recent photographs was selected for the online ArtNetDLR Revival exhibition.
I’d joined ArtNetDLR earlier in the year because it’s a local forum for professional artists who are themselves associated with the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown urban administrative area. I grew up here and will probably die here but I worked elsewhere in the interim. It’s good to have a gateway back into the community. That’s part of what the ArtNetDLR network provides. And so, as a member, I was thinking of Revival when I happened upon a scene that I thought could be a candidate.
I had seen the potential for a nice sunset and took a camera for a walk to the elevated viewpoint beside the Obelisk. I met another photographer en route who had the same thought. We chatted and once at the top, we watched and snapped as the setting of the sun was rendered dark and moody by banks of cloud that formed over Dublin. And then came sunbeams.
My photo was taken from the top of Killiney Hill, from beside the Obelisk that itself can be seen for tens of kilometres from all around the city. The Obelisk was built after the catastrophic winter of 1740 and the appalling famine that followed. Not the famine known globally after millions emigrated, this was a century earlier and may have killed as many as a sixth of the population in Ireland alone.
The scene I saw was very different than would have been seen by its builders in 1742. Every day, the Dublin Waste to Energy site recycles some of the 600,000 tonnes of annual waste that no longer goes to landfill. Some 50,000 homes are powered by this waste and that evening in June, there was a stream of white vapour picked out by sunbeams. The white puff seemed to be announcing change, the chimney itself almost invisible but for a twinkle of red warning lights. The disused Pigeon House chimneys and the church spires and cranes in the foreground all pointed to the heavens illuminated by transfiguring sunlight from the west. The sea shimmered in the golden hour light and I had to stop down the exposure in order to capture the steam without over exposing the image.
What to do about the bank of near-black cloud at the top of the scene? It was like a celestial floor seen from below. Others might have cropped it out but I wanted to keep the photo-realism intact. And so my image is a layered, brownish, goldish shot of Dublin’s energy revival, our waste replacing coal and oil as fuel.
I have other pictures with a similar palette and I think they lend themselves to being printed on textile and framed in dark wood. And that’s what I chose for Recycle. I produced it as a framed print made on stretched textile. And my standard is to limit such framed editions to 9.
The earlier photos are in chapbooks. As I wrote, they are also framed and printed on a synthetic textile using dye sublimation.
- The Muglins: The boat and lighthouse were covered in my post Fog Rises. I called it Rowers Rest.
- Harbour: I called the pier picture Pier Today in the post Authority or Opinion but I didn’t explain the picture; that’s for another time perhaps. I later changed the title to the more descriptive Pier Walkers because I lost confidence in my original punning title (Pier Today, gone tomorrow).