Photographs of Rural Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown 2012
Fieldworks presents a new perspective on rural Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. The exhibition marks the culmination of a special commission organised by the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Arts Office. Dara McGrath was invited to produce a new portrait of rural areas of the county, specifically those around Glencullen and Tibradden.
The interest was not so much in proposals that set out to capture beautiful landscapes or to uncover hidden or hard-to-find treasures. Rather, he was drawn to projects that sought to engage in new ways with the contemporary reality of the area. For the commission is a great opportunity to look again at what is on our doorstep, to show the familiar in a fresh way, and to provoke questions or unexpected trains of thought in the viewer.
During his research for the project, Dara McGrath was struck by the abundance of mountain trails and rural lanes in Glencullen/Tibradden – the area even includes a small section of the M50, the busiest motorway in the country. Taking this network of trails as a starting point, McGrath’s work explores the idea of humans as ‘track-makers’, and the way in which trails and pathways of various kinds reveal the interconnectedness of a landscape, and by extension, a people and a community.
His large-scale colour photographs challenge the familiar, picture-postcard aesthetic of traditional landscape photography. What is exciting about this work is that rather than presenting the countryside as in some way set apart from human and social affairs, through McGrath’s lens, we get to see it as something to which we are actively connected. No longer simply a backdrop, the landscape itself is a dynamic element of the pictures. From field patterns that have been established over generations, to recently planted forest, managed walking routes, or new recreational amenities, the work captures the way in which the landscape is very much a man-made artefact that has been, and continues to be, actively shaped by people.
Tanya Kiang . Gallery of Photography Ireland-September 2012
Installation Views of the commission installed at Marley Park, Dublin-Sept/Oct 2012