Accidental Journeys (2016)

  • Aisling Keavey

Accidental Journeys traces both the historical and contemporary journey the Irish Diaspora took from Ireland to England by photographing a journey from East Croydon to Gatwick Airport using black and white analogue film then adding dates of famine ships sailing from Cobh to America in the 1840’s and 1850’s over the images. By placing the images out of chronological order, the post-structuralist narrative of the project is alluded to and also shows that meaning is constructed at the point of engagement with the image by the viewer which also helps the images reference an invisibility of place. There are no defining features of place in any of the images which aids in the defamiliarisation of the landscape. The focusing of the camera lens is used as both a mechanical function and an approach to research, which considers history as an ongoing and malleable process. The changing of chemicals in the analogue photographic wet-room process references the change brought about by immigration and changes the Irish Diaspora faced when immigrating from Ireland to England and further afield to America and Canada. The photographs connect with personal migration from Ireland to England with that of historical migration. The work considers the traumatic disruption migrants go through when forcefully uprooting themselves from their home and immigrating to an unknown place to start a new life as a result of famine in this case, which is referenced in by using slow shutter speeds to form abstract images. The action of the camera in taking an image is used as an aide memoire to assist the viewer in visualising the Irish famine ship journey and to signify the imprints of the memory of these journeys on the landscape.