Friday, September 19, 2008

Environmental Photography

Another washed-out shooting day in (not-so) sunny Donegal.

I went into the excellent tourist information office in Donegal Town to ask where I might go to take photographs indoors. Well, I figured that as I'm here to take photographs, I can't be put off by a little thing like persistent precipitation. And, it was kind of using my initiative (for once), too - and if I'm honest, being a bit braver than usual (see Asking Permission to Take a Photograph, below).
The extremely pleasant and help information officer directed me to the Donegal Craft Village, 2 kilometers out of the town, on the Sligo road.

I made my way there, and spoke to Elaine McGonigle, of "McGonigle Glass" who specialises in eye catching glass jewelery, large glass sculptures and functional dishes. All the glass was in the kiln, and would be there overnight - so, there it wasn't possible to photograph her working, but Elaine helpfully pointed me in the direction of the other crafts people - and even introduced me to some of them. I spent about 3 hours there, photographing and - better still - engaging in interesting and often hilarious discussions with some very talented and artistic people.

I had a great time photographing Niall Bruton, a metal worker, who went out of his way (as did everyone) to help me get the best shots, even if it meant having to move half of the equipment in his workshop!

Stone Sculptor Brendan McGloin is a young, vibrant and very talented man, who has just finished a 30 month long commission to replicate (in stone) a full sized version of the Cross of the Scriptures, from Clonmachnoise, for the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, in Portland, Oregan, USA. He was leaving for Portland, the next day, to "set" the piece. I photographed Brendan at work in his yard and he showed me photographs of himself with the piece, before it was shipped to Portland, in 3 parts, and the Irish President, Mary McAleese. He also offered to stand next to (actually, he climbed onto the base of) a full size model of the cross, made from polystyrene foam, in his studio.

I finished the craft shoots with painter Johnny Mcabe, who has some fascinating portraits of figures from popular culture - like Bob Marley, a young Johnny Cash and Elvis and two versions of portraits of Samuel Beckett, one of which was my personal favourite.

It turned out that Johnny and I had a lot in common, including our accents, previous career choices and above all, the internal belief that we were destined to be the thing we always wanted to be (in his case an artist and in my case a Lothario - sorry, photographer) and it was just a case of finding a way to make it work. In Johnny's case (judging by his boyish visage), I reckon he got there a lot sooner than I did. And very good luck to him!!

Photographs: Sculptor Brendan McGloin (top), Painter Johnny McCabe

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