Irish Photographer / Visual Artist / based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The History of The Allotment Garden in the British Isles can be traced back 1,000 years when the Saxon’s were able to clear land and hold it for common usage...
Irish Photographer / Visual Artist / based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The History of The Allotment Garden in the British Isles can be traced back 1,000 years when the Saxon’s were able to clear land and hold it for common usage of the people. Following the Norman conquest land ownership became more concentrated in the hands of the Church and Monasteries and the Lords. The Reformation in the 1540’s confiscated much of the Churches lands and transferred them via The Crown to the Lords. During the 17th and 18th Centuries Land was being enclosed and during the Industrial Revolution thousands abandoned a rural subsistence way of living and relocated to the Cities to work in Factories. Poor pay and the conditions combined with a lack of land to grow food meant that families faced starvation. The general enclosure act of 1845 attempted to provide better protection for the interests of small proprietors of the land as well as the public. The Act required that Commissioners should make provisions for the landless poor in the form of “ Field Gardens “ which were limited to a quarter acre. This was the beginning of the Allotment Garden as it is known today. I had grown up in Northern Ireland during the 1970’s & 80’s and had left to live in the Republic of Ireland as a young adult. I was interested in travelling and working abroad this led me to work in France USA Scandinavia and the Middle East as part of Cultural Exchange programs led by Atlantis and Project 67. These organisations promoted sustainable farming and food production for people from around the world. They promoted a positive way of living and used farming and gardening as a social tool, these experiences had a positive and profound effect on me as a young person. My Photographic project Hinterland’s emerged out of what was the early years of Northern Ireland’s peace process which began in 1998. Historically Northern Ireland’s photography has always been associated in some way with the troubles and the conflict and division which it caused for over 30 years. Hinterlands series of photographs was my way of engaging with that negative history by showing another side to Northern Ireland and it’s people, a side that brought people together in a positive way. Hinterland’s began in 2006 in South Belfast and slowly developed to East Belfast and North Belfast and then Derry / Londonderry. Further development’s led me to photograph in the Republic of Ireland in South Dublin and North Dublin as part of the same project. I was initially interested in the improvised sheds built out of the detritus of the everyday built out of practical necessity to shelter and for storage. These structures became over time like portraits of the people who had made them or like vessels of identity. Affordable and sustainable food spaces which existed in the back laneways and hidden corners of our Cities.
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology