Monday, 23 November 2020

In some ways it was great already!

 As I move on  through this Pecious Silver Process   I am discovering the depth of meaning beyond the object that is captured within the image, I know this sounds a little hard to touch, but if I allow myself the space to explain this to myself, we may all be able to move forward from this point with a little insight.

 So Let me explain, This work  is made to examine optically, and on a precious material(type 55 Polaroid), objects that hold a particular value to me, (beyond a monetary value).

This particular piece, is for me the symbol of the darkroom, a fine piece of engineering,  and a physical reminder of a very special time in my life when I discovered photography. When I was in the school darkroom processing film and the Gralab let out its piercing buzz, there was no doubt it was time for you to retrieve your film or at least move on to the next part of the process.

But this particular clock bought by me to replace a now defunct clock in another college darkroom where I now officiate, has proven to me to be a touchstone for a whole different set of experiences. It embodies for me my own experiences of the U.S.A. what it has become and how it may progress.

 Firstly I bought the 1970's clock on a visit to the U.S.A. in 2014 in a shop  which in 2020 was set on fire during the the 2020 Chicago riots,The Chicago Sun, reported , Chicago’s iconic Central Camera Company store was damaged in a fire amid wide-spread protests and property damage downtown Saturday over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. 

The clock was manufactured in the  heartland of the American indusrial mid-west  in Ohio and here in lies the knub of my clocks hidden story and it is this  which fascinates me.

The Dimco Gray Company  of Ohio is located in  one of the mid-west states , as one website put it,  that was Once recognized as the industrial heartland, the region has experienced a sharp downturn in industrial activity from the increased cost of domestic labor, competition from overseas, technology advancements replacing workers, and the capital intensive nature of manufacturing. The fortunes of this industrial heartland of America shifted between the 1950s and 1970s when the region's dominant industries faced minimal competition. Powerful labor unions in the automotive and steel manufacturing sectors ensured labor competition stayed to a minimum. As a result, many of the established companies had very little incentive to innovate or expand productivity. This came back to haunt the region when the United States opened trade overseas and shifted manufacturing production to the south.

But this was  not the case for the Dimco Gray company, When faced with going out of business in the eighties a worker buyout saved and turned the fortunes of the company around in a few years.

 This is not the story I am used to telling myself about America and American Manufacturing, My story is the one where rich investors trade in shares of all American companies - trying to squeeze out of them all of their worth, Not really caring where the product base originates once it either increases or does not imapact the bottom line.  The Shareholder profit motive  facilitates a certain fluidity where large American corporations move their capital around the globalised world seeking profit, only to benefit these shareholders - not really caring what carnage is left in the wake of opening up manufacturing in ever cheaper,  sometimes even unregulated production facilities - etc. etc etc. All the time driving the thin wedge of earnings upwards towards the one percent, as the only motive to succeed is to generate profits. 

But it is not all black and white so to speak, in every situation there is nuance, subtle hues through the gray areas from the whitest whites to the darkest black, are in fact what reveal the true depth of a scene, and the Dimco Gray company exist in this space. Now that I know a little more about them    I can clearly see how attached I have become to this item, especially as I can see that their focus is not to earn  dollars for faceless shareholders. This solitary fact makes  my feelings for this classic version of their Gralab timer, makes me glow more now more  then ever.                Especially when I hear the foghorn of its alarm buzzing through my head to tell me the the minutes have have elapsed on this over 50 year old piece of American Darkroom History!

That is the message I see deep in this photograph,   and because I bought it at the Central Camera Company Which has since been burned down, I am reminded that the American society is now deeply troubled. I hope that in the years to come it can start to heal  and what motivates American society in general can be a force like that of the Dimco Gray workers, who invested in themselves for the good of their community.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020



 Earlier on this blog there was a post called a short essay on overspin. in this post I tried to show how  a good news story could be made from the most mundane event, ( a habit of the government of that  time) In the post I argued that ( amongst other things), the appearance of a potted palm on the Western Way in 2012 was a sign of economic recovery. I was shocked over the last year or so to see more and more of these plants around the town the next in worse state then the last. It now appears the pots have been gathered up and deposited in one site and this as a direct result of a global pandemic.


 The scientific community  look to the trafficking of the pangolin as the host of a bat virus that jumped to a human strain now known as covid 19 or corona virus.
It was  internationally spread from Wuhan in China by  human travel.
Its route to Ireland was manifold  and it may have traveled from China, Italy,  and Singapore initially as well as some other well documented routes. From my reading of the situation International travel will  be the cause of this viral infections longevity.
The effects of this virus have been far reaching and wide, not least it has so far taken the lives of 1,777 people who got in its way in the Rep. of Ireland and 848,000 people word wide.
Needless to say it has to be halted and to date the majority of the population have followed the  recommendations of the Irish Government in this regard, who follow the advice of local health experts and the World Health Organisation. My post here has no wish to deflect from the gravity of this situation. But I could not help but notice the shabby and crass nature of one  manifestation of my local councils response to covid 19. In fact I feel that it could be argued that the particular visuals facilitated by these council actions shows a lack of respect to those who have suffered the effects of this virus.


So, here I am speaking of the Dublin City Council Covid Mobility Team who have engineered  mobility solutions which aid peoples travels around its  physical area of responsibility. A noble aspiration which they describe the following way, (their objectives I have described above)

The measures developed in response to these objectives are being introduced to respond to a new and unprecedented emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  They are being implemented on a temporary basis to respond to the urgent and immediate needs of the city.  They will be reviewed periodically to assess their effectiveness and, because of their nature and type of implementation, can be modified as needed to respond to changing needs and requirements.

In Grangegorman  Dublin 7 they have erected a road block described as Filtered permeability, in their words, 

Filtered permeability is effectively a ‘cycle gate’-cyclists are able to travel through the ‘cycle gate’but other  vehicles cannot. Implementation  of  filtered  permeability  will  not result  in  any changes to existing footpath facilities.  The  filtered  permeability  trial  on Grangegorman  Lower is  due  to  commence  on 6  July  2020. The  measure  will  use  bollards  to  prevent  motorised  through  traffic  in  order  to  create  a pedestrian  and  cycle  friendly  zone  and  a  safer  space  for  local  residents  and  for  thousands  of pedestrians and cyclists arriving at TUD from September 2020.

In their description in documentation there is no reference to the means of negating the existing parking bays on the very wide concourse outside the HSE Building which was at one time the centre piece of the Grangegorman  complex. (It is only these particular measures I am referring to here). 

It is achieved by the combination of a new set of 24hour clearway signs, and a bunch of dishevelled  potted palms that have seen better days( since their first sightings in 2012), The already generous footpaths have been extended onto the road and marked out with a row of new luminous stick bollards. 

This now large open space can only be described as the  proverbial ‘Dogs Dinner’ and the lack of though by those who designed this feature leaves the council open to accusations of shoddy practices. When the dust settles and the area is a bustling concourse full of local and student life I sincerely hope that some better street furniture is chosen. Something  that may synergise with the fine design and restoration already evident on the Grangegorman site.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Back on the block at


There is no doubt about it, the world twists, it turns, things mutate, todays critical discourses are not the exchanges we were having six months ago. There is no doubt that from month  to month society is consumed by one subject or another and when the dust settles it always appears that most of the time spent paying attention to an unfolding narrative, was wasted time. Remember the Millenium Bug, or perhaps Brexit. They held our thoughts and were a major item of public discourse for years but now the story of Brexit seems to be disappearing from the everyday news as fast as that Bug story did at 12:01 on  January 1st  2000. 

There is a lot wrong with our world and a lot of it centres around divisions and polarities within peoples. Without getting into the whys and wherefores  of political and economic systems, we must look to ourselves to create a small world around our own personal contacts. We should do this with a humanity that exudes love, kindness, equality, all the time remaining curious about what we can do to build  better relationships with the world around us. Don't leave it up to the political classes, craft your own special relationships with all of those you come into contact with. Remain open to learn from others and give freely through positive actions.

One step on my continuing creative trajectory towards this goal is the creation of a new personal website at

Above is the first photograph you will encounter on this new site.
It may take a few weeks for the data on this new site to overwrite the old data on the original David Monahan site but all should be good in a few weeks. And so 
I start to build and I hope the site will change frequently to mirror my own personal growth as I share our now smaller world..... its almost lilliputian!


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Blues Singer Puts it up to Us

About a year ago my brother Ian played me a track he was working on, he had recorded the piece with Dublin Blues Legend Ditch Cassidy.  Ians last outing with Ditch spawned the rough and tumble 'We Built This House' A track about the financial collapse of 2007/8 which was used for the titles in Donald Taylor Blacks' excellent Feature film  Doc 'Skin in the Game' Which also featured musical contributions from Christy Moore and Barry Mc Cormack
I knew when I heard it it was some thing very special.
Around summertime we set about making a video for it, Earlier in the year I had an idea about a mysterious man in a white suit which I though might work for this presentation.
The Idea to build a sense of intrigue through sound and vision is played out  in this video,
For me it works so well, who is he, how does he relate to the singer, how does he relate to the allusions of the song and where will he take us.
Any how Ian has chosen now to release this song on youtube, and because of its spiritual nature this is probably the ideal time for this release. In order for it to succeed and raise the profile of this fantastic singer to the national level he deserves this project needs your shares.
Please go to the youtube page direct from this link and follow the links to embed  and share the work in your social networking feeds.

I will keep you all posted on where the work takes us.
Loads of love to you all,

Monday, 22 April 2019


I was delighted last week to meet with Lucky Khambule  a man who now lives in the town of Arklow, co Wicklow. Lucky was1.5 years in ‘direct provision’ before been given’ leave to remain’ in Ireland by the department of Justice. Lucky is a very striking presence who carries himself with dignity, respect for all and concern for those who remain in the unfortunate and unnecessary regime that limits their potential by means denying basic human rights.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


In an effort to add to the discourse around Direct Provision, to increase international awareness of its existence and in some small way to help bring an end to its madness, I will be adding my voice to those already active by starting a new series of photographs. Photographs of survivors of Direct Provision.
 Those who have passed through the system and come out the other end.

Friday, 24 February 2017


All is proceding well at the National Photographic Archive, the exhibition is being enjoyed by a large diverse audience, some viewing it in a series of glances and others spending time with it, looking, watching, listening, hearing, communicating. The series of events around the exhibition have all gone well and I will report on all here at a later date.

For the moment I wanted to draw your attention to the last two events in the schedule announced in the last post, both at The National Library, Kildare Street.

Wednesday March 1st at 19.00. -  Beyond Home: new spaces for migrant belonging

                                                       Speaker - Professor Mary Gilmartin

                                                 Admission is free and no booking is needed

                                      Friday March 3rd 10.45 till 16.00 -  Picturing Migration.

  A conference which looks at representation of migrations in photography and the media
Admission is free  - To book click here

Here is what the library events page has to say about the upcoming event,

Professor Mary Gilmartin, from Maynooth University for this exploration of the issues around migration.

This lecture is one of a series taking place as part of the programme around the Beyond Leaving exhibition at the library’s National Photographic archive in Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

What does belonging mean?

Seeking to belong is a common human desire. But what does belonging mean when you are a migrant, living away from familiar places and people? In this talk, Professor Gilmartin will consider the ways in which migrants create new spaces of belonging and will use examples from the experiences of immigrants living in Ireland and Irish emigrants living in other countries to show how migrants seek to belong – whether this is through local communities or transnational citizenship – as well as the difficulties they encounter.

 Fridays event is the final move of my suite of presentations on and around this subject and it seeks to locate the discourse around recent Irish migration in context with recent global trends in migration.

It features five speakers who will each make a presentation on their work and a number of panel discussions around the topic of the day.

Speakers include Melanie Friend, photographer/artist and educator, Sarah Maria Griffin, author and project collaborator, Rory O'Neill, artist/researcher, Ciara Kenny, curator and editor of Irish Abroad/Generation Emigration (Irish Times) and Vukasin Nedelikovic artist/resercher (Asylum Archive). It will be hosted by David Monahan, Dr Justin Carville and Dr Mark Curran and will take place in the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street.

This is a free event but booking is essential,  to book click here