Killarney Camera Club’s exhibition ‘The Story behind the Photograph’ was officially opened in Killarney Public Library on Thursday evening 22 March 2018 by Gallery 21’s fine art photographer Keith Woodward. A packed room heard Keith talk about how important in this age of digital ephemera the printed work is for its permanent documentation of the times and for its personal creative vision. There is plenty of both in this splendid collection.
Thirty nine images, most printed for the Club by professional photographer Graham Daly, went on view in the Library until 28th April. Even though images speak for themselves, there is always something the photographer will want to tell you about the location or the subject or the problems getting the shot or the motivation behind the image. In this exhibition, each image is accompanied by the photographer’s story, short but in some cases detailed.
The beautiful scenery of our beloved Kerry is well represented. There are two quite different but equally striking views of An Searrach, the magnificent sea stack near Kinard, one by local Noel O’Neill and the other a telephoto view during Storm Brian by Billy Dermody. Liam Sugrue gives us a smoothly executed long exposure of the sea and rocks at Brandon Bay. Thomas Bradley, always with an eye for great colour, captures sunset over the Blaskets. Michael Kennedy looks out lovingly from the Umar of Bunaneer where many a naomhóg has taken to the sea. At Clogher strand, Mary Sheehan gives us a crashing image of the Wild Sea and, if I am not mistaken, Maryann Heidtke’s haunting monochrome Waves are at the same location. Nikki Foley beautifully exposes her Soul Place at Inch beach while, on the north side of the peninsula, Billy Dermody takes to the sky and makes a fascinating surrealistic image looking directly down on the waves and sand and solitary person and shadow on Stradbally strand. Terry MacSweeney gives us a recent picture of the Sunbeam, moved further out along
Rossbeigh by violent storms, and adds a great view of the Milky Way in these unpolluted skies. Closer to Killarney, Paul Garnett makes a characteristically stunning image of the Upper Lake at sunset with a boat beached in the foreground and James Galvin presents an image of the Dundag, resplendent in its fresh coat of green paint, sitting serenely on the mirrored waters of Muckross Lake. Karina Murphy catches the lush colour of an early Spring sunset over Loch Leane. It might be difficult to believe that there can be a new take on Ross Castle, but Adrian Healy has accomplished precisely that, the castle lit up at night surrounded by snow. Martin Veskilt has an endearing picture of baby ducklings who live beside the castle. Pat O’Shea presents a well executed shot of the ruined Molly’s cottage at Dromluska in the Black Valley. Billy Horan, famed for his mountain photographs and recently exhibiting also in Killarney House with Norman McCloskey, captures brilliantly the dawn fog in Hag’s Glen with vibrant reflections and Moonrise at Carrauntoohil, the latter presented unfinished because Billy’s printer ran out of ink! John Keane also printed his own images of the Fenit lighthouse on Little Samphire Island and the windmill at Blennerville, both showing off admirably the magnificent light that we get north of the Sliabh Mish.
Not all the photographs are landscapes or seascapes. Anthony Kelleher found two palm prints in the road that look like cave drawings of old and his masterly photograph of them spreads the message someone else was sending to the world – I am and I was here. There is a picture of the gloriously colourful frontage of Dan Foley’s in Annascaul by Pat O’Shea and another, not so often captured but equally worthy, of the shop in Killarney Railway Station by John Lynch.
Some members journeyed further afield for their images. Keith Johnson went well beyond the county bounds for his lovely slow image of the eponymous waterfall at Poulanassig in the Mullinhassig wood. Paul Garnett displays a delicately balanced Winter Wonderland, a snow decked avenue in London’s Regent’s Park. Sheila Foley travelled to Slovenia and shows a church that is reached only by boat on Lake Bled with a clear complete reflection in the water of the lake; when weddings take place here, the groom is expected to carry the bride up the 99 steps. Seamus Long was in the south of France and came back with a truly mesmerising image of the wild white horses of Camargue galloping towards him. Seamus also travelled to Offaly to capture the rich redness of a field of wild poppies that he had been told about; his story reminds me of a field of tulips I saw some years ago also in Offaly. Martin Veskilt shows us Old Tallinn in Estonia with its ancient towers subtly fading into the monochromatic background. Lesly Martinez visited the Carnival of El Callao in southern Venezuela and captured her Negro Medio Pinto coated from head to toe in charcoal and molasses. A small boy plays outside his colourful and unconventional home on the Camino de Santiago in James Galvin’s lingering image of hospitality in action. And Eric Jenkinson went to Oregon to the Portland International Airshow and brought back a nice sharp image of two aeroplanes in flight together, one a World War II fighter and the other an F-22 Raptor, the latest in fighter plane technology.
There are great portraits in the exhibition too. Deirdre Donoghue gives us a delightful image of her grandson River with his balloon and Noel O’Neill makes a candid monochrome image of Eoghan. Marek Hajdasz uses lighting after sunset to connect with the character of his
Matriarch in a remote village of Rajasthan. Back in Udaipur, Marek uses a light reflector to bounce sunlight onto the face of a man Possessed by the Gods at the entrance to Jagdish temple. The man has a broad red stripe down his forehead, which I suppose has religious significance. Next to this portrait on the wall is my own close up macro of a Redback in my son-in-law’s man shed down under; the venomous spider displays a curiously similar red stripe on its back with a connotation that is far from religious. I think the curator has a sense of humour.
A big thank you to everyone who made this a great exhibition, to the Library staff, to Keith Woodward and Graham Daly, to all the club members who helped out with collating all the images and stories, to those who organized the exhibition, to those who framed and hung the pictures, to those who provided the refreshments at the opening and, of course, to all the artists who presented their work.
by Mícheál Ó Searcóid