The Gallery of Photography, Dublin – Critical Reflection.

The Gallery of Photography, Dublin was founded in 1978. The Gallery of Photography is not just a gallery, it features digital production studios, a dark room, a bookshop with a great range of artists’ work which are available to purchase, as well as the chance to become a member and the opportunity to be part of book clubs. Although most importantly, there is the exhibition spaces. Despite the areas being fairly small, the exhibition rooms are a good size allowing enough room to move around whilst taking in the work which is on show. It gives you chance to understand and get a feeling of the work which has been displayed for viewers, as well as being able to develop your own opinion.

At the time of my visit to the gallery, the work being featured was produced by finalists of the showcase award. Included artists were Alberto Masarin, Ann Marie Curran, Ciaran Og Arnold, Martin Cregg and Richard Gilligan. Their pieces of work were intended to give an overview of contemporary Irish photography, as well as attracting more art curators to view it.

One particular piece of work which attracted my interest was by Richard Gilligan – DIY.

“DIY is a series of photographs about home-made skateboard parks. I have been documenting them around the world since 2008. I am interesting in the people that occupy these spaces and the sculptural qualities of the environments they have created. My hope is that the images are interesting to people who know absolutely nothing about skateboarding as they are to the skaters themselves. My aim is to present an honest and uncompromising vision of this often misunderstood subculture.”

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I was really interested in this work more so than the others as for A-Level I attempted something similar, working with the idea of skate culture and photographing the places and people that make it a way of life. It was really inspiring to see another photographer explore this kind of aspect, particularly how the skateboarders were building their own parks – reflected in the unique title DIY which at a first thought wouldn’t necessarily suggest skateboarders. I think it is important to understand the people before photographing their ‘place’ which in this case is the skateparks as this will produce better images with more feeling/meaning. An interesting aspect to this selection of images is that they all appear quite calm and relaxed which allows the viewer to take their time when taking in the surroundings, there isn’t too much going on to detract attention away from the purpose of the image. Some feature people such as the fourth image which is quite intimate and adds emotion to the photo – their body language is relaxed and casual suggesting their laid back personalities. In contrast to this, the 5th image is very empty. It almost appears quite lonely, this single unoccupied skatepark surrounded by trees, fields, and buildings far into the distance. This gives the sense of a little world within a huge one and I think this works really effectively. Personally, my favourite image is the first – there is quite a lot going on with the different groups of people, however it doesn’t make it too chaotic. The atmosphere it creates is still calm and intriguing. There is a great range of tones in the image. Lit with natural light it has caused some heavy shadows creating interesting contrasts of light and dark. The area looks quite industrial and unappealing, however there is an adult in the middle with what appears to be a small child showing it is a safe environment. This contributes to how Richard wanted to “present an honest and uncompromising vision of this often misunderstood subculture.” From my own work, it was understood that not everyone thinks of skaters with a good image, often seen as a nuisance. However his work tackles this stereotype, and shows that they are real people too and how their skateparks are their place of being.

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on February 15, 2013.

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