What do I write about these small icons of Irish architecture?
Sometimes I feel it’s better to just let the photographs do the ‘talking’: No captions, no explanations, just open ended images that let the viewers eyes and mind roam.
Last Saturday brought with it a taste of spring; the sky was clear blue, the birds were singing, and standing in the sun one could feel a bit of glorious heat. My little boy asked if we could go out for a bike ride, so we dusted off the saddles, checked tyre pressure, oiled the chains, and hit the road pedaling.
We made a few stops along the way – Noah would huff and puff and complain while I whipped out the mobile phone and put it to good use documenting the 2up2down houses along the back country roadeens.
Cycling the back roads is a beautiful way to travel and one sees and hears, and experiences so much more compared to traveling in a car.
I am also taking advantage of other mobile technology and am locating these houses using Google Street View. So far, within a 20 mile radius, I have located over 100 of these design icons. I reckon there could be up to 2000 of these houses around the county.
For some time I have been thinking about documenting the 2down2up type house that are prevalent throughout County Wexford, Ireland.
Designed by Wexford County Council up until the 1930’s, they are simple in form, have classical proportions, a pleasing scale, and enduring qualities. Of all the dwellings throughout the landscape of Wexford, they have – in my opinion – the most charm.
Many of these labourer style cottages have fallen into disrepair, but many too have survived, and are lovingly cared for by their owners. Over time, the basic form has been altered by porches, side and rear extensions, and – in a similar manner to icons such as the VW Beetle and Combi – they have been deemed worthy of creative individual paint finishes.
Yet for all this they remain readily identifiable, sitting comfortably in the rural landscape surrounded by green fields, or overshadowed by characterless new buildings in built up suburbs.
This then, is a tribute to understatement; a tipping of the hat to a classic enduring Irish design.
Sometimes I don’t have anything to say about photos and photography. I just wonder about all of the photos out there and what people do with them. The photo below, for example, has been sitting somewhere in my hard-drive for the past two years. I was always aware that it was there but just didn’t know what to do with it. I still don’t know. Maybe over time, it will become part of a bigger collection of my photos from Finland, or a totally different project. It can take on meaning by becoming an integral part of something bigger. But for now, I’ll just show it to you as a single image, and leave it open to interpretation.
I recently started documenting the rural vernacular buildings of my locality. The long-term plan is to record these important records of our architectural and social heritage before they crumble, and merge with the landscape. Of course many of these are still in use, and it is great to see that people still find these worthy of preservation.
Many of these buildings are hundreds of years old, and are a testament to the coming together of communities of skilled people.
I have started taking thse pictures on a Leica M6 with 35mm Summicron lens in with black and white film. It seemed the logical thing to do. However, I will also be experimenting with digital colour, and medium format, before deciding on the most appropriate method of this documenting process.