David Granville reviews If Ever You Go To Dublin Town, photographs by Elinor Wiltshire, text Orla Fitzpatrick, Women's History Project and the National Library of Ireland, IR£9.99 and Family, Friends and Neighbours, an Irish photobiography, text and photographs by Oistin Mac Bride, Beyond the Pale £24.99 pbk
A COLLABORATION between the National Library of Ireland's photographic archive and the Womenís History Project, the first of these books offers a unique vision of Dublin between 1955 and the late 1960s as seen through the lens of photographer Elinor Wiltshire.
Throughout most of this period, Elinor and her husband Reggie ran a photographic studio in Stephen's Green. It was Elinor's purchase of a Rolleiflex camera in 1955 which led her to start photographing Dublin and its inhabitants.
Unlike single-lens reflex cameras, which are held at eye height, the Rolleiflex enabled her to hold the camera at waist height. As a result, many of her subjects did not even realise they were being photographed. The natural, visual intimacy which this can produce is abundantly evident in this published collection.
In her illuminating and informative introduction, Orla Fitzpatrick pays tribute to Wiltshire's photographic skills, pointing out that she is one of the few women to have achieved recognition in an area largely dominated by male photographers.
The second superb collection, shot in a different part of Ireland, and under very different circumstances, is Oistin Mac Bride's Irish photobiography.
An experienced and widely-travelled photographer, writer and occasional broadcaster, Mac Bride has covered events in the north of Ireland for over 20 years. As an up-front, campaigning photographer who has chosen to work in the 'front line' of the conflict, Mac Bride, and his photographic equipment, have frequently fallen foul of the authorities, to say nothing of hostile loyalists.
Subjected to arrest, detention and assault in the course of his everyday work, he has produced a passionate chronicle of the conflict from the perspective of the politically-committed member of the northís nationalist community.
But, make no mistake, Mac Bride is a talented photographer whose work shows that he also possesses a creative mind and a perceptive eye.
December 2001/January 2002
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Copyright © 2001 Connolly Publications Ltd