Saturday 18 November 2023


 I seen somebody posting a picture of the full neg of this image on Instagram recently, Its a big neg from a very big camera(life-size image). Well here is one I made on 10x8 of an original contact print from the same negative. 

 At the time I was doing some prep work on photographic items for a big expo at the NLI. When I was approached and asked if I had a solution for a complex problem, it was to make a copy of this and hang it in the show,  ( now that might not seem complex but hey so), at the time I think I was shooting a 12mega pixel(mp)  digital dslr and the 22mp Hasselblad was still beyond me( I think two years later I got the 39mp H series camera and so my high mp life began) But up to this point it was always based on needs what format you could do a job on . And as it turns out the the 10x8 camera provided us with the solution at this particular time. The camera itself was a gift to me from photographic friend, ( now deceased) Brendan Doyle, Brendan was the photographer at the National Museum since the 70’s through to his late retirement at the age of 70 in the late 90’s, so this kind of kit was hight tech stuff in his day but had started to wane in use as film got better and then as digital took over it faded from view. Now days it is the preserve of the very wealthy photographer as the price of film soars and the availability of processing and scanning shrinks to a few labs worldwide, But back in the day ( this was shot around 2005-6) this was a viable solution.

  Brendan had given me the camera some years earlier ( perhaps around 2001) but it was shy a lens and a very important bellows. It took some years  but  I acquired a bellows thanks to a college contact David Laudien, who found the needed pieces on German eBay. With the bellows for the camera I felty confident to buy a Schneider 300mm lens on eBay also, it came all the way from California and shocked me when it arrived on account of its sheer beauty. A few film holders and then I was ready to go. So when the request came through to find a solution for the Maude Gonne photo I thought immediately  of shooting it on 10x8 transparency. 

  So a plan was put in place - my good friend Matthew Cains for the Library came across to the National Photographic Archive where the piece was held, unframed the print and brought it on its baseboard into the exhibition space on the ground floor.

 I loaded up 4 or 6 sheets of film below in the darkroom, got the camera in place and lit the work with a couple of Bowens flasheads, balance the lighting, metered for an aperture value and bang the work was done. I am not so sure but I think our good friend Jim Butler of Repro 35 looked after the processing of the film, he definitely  had the scans done on an old drum scanner somewhere in Dublin, and after we corrected for the silvering on the base of the print (caused by oxidation over time) he made a fine print ready for the expo.

Matthew had concerns about the frame and wanted it restored, so in the meantime he commissioned a duplicate to be manufactured, This was done by my own dear brother Ian.  This   marked our first collaboration in working together to bring good work to show. It was a tricky task, although the frame was plain in appearance, the method of manufacture was by todays standards complex but Ian like myself Matthew and Jim, rose to the ocassion. Over 20 years later the work is still on show at the Nli permanent expo YEATS:The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats

So here is the full roll of honour regarding this image, 

Alfred Werner the image, (life sized from his v big room sized camera)

Maude Gonne,Sitter

The Photograph was kept safe by the Photographic Society of Ireland

Before it was acquired by  Grainnne Mac Laughlin for the National library of Irelands National photographic Archive.

Conserved by Matthew Cains

Rephotographed by me on the fab Linhof  Kardan Color  10x8 inch Camera

processed by Jim Butler for Repro 35

Scanned by ?

Printed by Repro 35

Camera provided by Brendan Doyle, 

Facilitated by David Laudian

and some man in California

Sunday 16 April 2023

a metaphor for our times

this  post was first published in 2010 I have just added the second photo inline for my good friend Vukasin

Early last year i was walking down O'Connell street,Dublin.And I passed a building I had passed Hundreds of times in my life.It was the former main bookings office of Aer lingus,
the Irish national airline.This was in its day a beautiful example of Irishness, both in its look and in its ambiance.My lasting memory of this office the warmh which exuded from the people who confidently greeted you from behind the the service counter,as they tapped away on their green screens to bring you up to the minute information on pricing and availability of flights out of and into all of the main capitals of Europe and the U.S.A.

The entrance to the this building was beautifully crafted in polished steel and glass,very clean modernist lines,with a large double glass door which effortlessly swung open with the timidest of pushes.
The crowning feature of this design had to be the winged handles.
You could say this doorway was in itself a beautiful framing of all of Irelands aspirations as it prepared to fly as close to the sun as any other nation could manage.
Anyhow, this all changed when in the nineties aer lingus suspended selling seats from this, and all offices and retired to web based sales.
the Office closed and was never reoccupied.
So back to the day of my stroll.
In the past I had mused over the possible meanings of the wings being bound in chains but never ever read it as a curse.So on this snowy sunday morning in february 2009 I was shocked to pass the building to find,that not only had the chains been taken from the doors, but the wings too had been removed!Two months later the whole building was gone, around about the same time the country almost ground to a halt as the huge bubble that was the irish property development industry imploded on itself!

Personally I feel saddened that such apretty piece of our past can go almost unlamented.
I can only draw sollace from the fact that on two of the hundreds of times that i passed this way I was carrying a camera to document the passing of this little treasure!

Please comment on this post as it will help shape the content in the future postings

Wednesday 13 April 2022


 Sometimes you know when things are just right. It has been a while since I have put together a presentation, hung it on a wall and invited all and sundry to come have a look and see what they can see.
Last month I was invited by Karolina, owner of Mish_Mash, one of Dublins finest  independent coffee shops, to do just that. I have to admit, Although I had one large piece in this years Halftone print fair,  in the past couple of  years I have been reluctant to put my work out there in a public presentation. But the calm and the attitude that exudes from both Karolina and her place assured me that this was the right   time to step up with  a series.

I decided to try and bring the viewer to this  virtual space by using two posts from my blog here at the lilliputian.
Because the issue at hand within these post had both local and global dimensions,
it work resonated with Karolina, and so we moved forward.
The idea behind the work may actually not be the work itself, and this, I hope will prove to be the reward for those who take a second look at the pieces and go online to check out the posts that the show points to.

The work aims to demonstrate how the written word can effect the meaning, or indeed refine and concentrate the meaning of a series of photographs.
The work itself tries to distract at the surface and uses the thinly veiled disguise of typology
to hang the work as a series of similars. It succeeds at this I feel, and therefor will entertain the casual   glance. However if one follows the crumbs dropped in the space - if one wants to seek out another  meaning of the work - one can be taken off in a completely different direction - a direction that points at nasty side of human nature - mans ability to take advantage of an unfortunate situation.

Mish Mash is for me one of the calmest spaces in Dublin 
If you have not been I invite you to have a visit while my work is 
hanging here. I am looking forward to reaction to the works 
and I am now happy to show once more in public,
and I am delighted to find that this is the ideal place to return to the 
public domain with my artworks, and look forward to showing 
many times more in the coming years as my work evolves 
and I finish the series I am currently working on.

Keep your eye open here for news of upcoming events
and at for new series.
And remember a great coffee is waiting for you at MISH MASH

Wednesday 20 January 2021



One day last week I had  my reading glasses on and I glanced down at my hands, ( just to check in disbelief that I actually needed this focal aid) Anyhow with the ability to focus I noticed that my fingers bore the scars of a life lived and wondered how many of the marks and nicks had been experienced over the last year of extreme washing and cleaning, or was there a longer timeline involved in the marking up of my prints!

I was listening to the radio a day or two after and I heard an interview with a man of 107 years old. Michael J O'Connor from Muckross, in Kerry is an amazing character with a perspective on life that we can only imagine.

As a child of six he was unfortunate to contract the Spanish flu. Remarkably he recovered but sadly it killed his mother. From this start this man lived through two world wars, (was torpedoed in the first one)  lived through endless cycles of recessions, the ups and downs of life and now seems to be coping well with the latest challenge Covid 19.

According to Worldometer  2 million 68 thousand and 272 people have died as a result of this global pandemic  to date and at present the race is on to inoculate it out of our lives. We can not discard at any stage the effect this has had on the communities effected, or deny the hurt felt by relatives who were not even able to say a personal goodbye to someone they had shared their life with. To me it is unimaginable and difficult to accept the fact that we might before it is all over contract or be killed by it, or have to watch the same happen to a close friend or family member.

So I block that bit out and do what I can to help break the chain of infection (hand-washing, mask wearing and distancing etc.).  But the havoc isolation is wreaking on our lives is a tough one to quantify. This in fact is a worry and we will live with its consequences for years after the covid 19 event has been halted. 

Children are loosing so much at all ages now it is sad to witness the loneliness and isolation caused just by separating them from their peers.

Third level students in a lot of cases have not seen the inside of their colleges at all if they are in first year and perhaps since March last year for others.

Workers have been embracing working from home, but there are a whole set of ills that must be addressed to enable a seamless transition to this form of work  and the  jump start that was covid 19 was not a good start. So you have back aches and RSI  from bad furniture, huge expense re light, heat, internet, blurred boundaries both in time and space and of course the negative effects of no socialisation with ones co-workers.

The elderly have a huge burden to contend with, fear of infection, isolation, nutrition, no socialisation and of course the passage of useful time, or that fear of spending your last years in a prison or some sort of purgatorial waiting area before your inevitable death. The older you are the stronger this feeling of time lost must weigh on your soul.

With pubs abandoned,  restaurants closed and personal contact shunned what have people been doing  with there spare time?  I suppose the answer is positive things and negative things.

My Christmas this year was totally family focused and un-fussed, it worked, it was a fine time for all of us and we did it effectively for all. That was very positive.

Earlier in the Pandemic I ramped up my habitual swimming with a vigor previously unknown in my life.   For all but two days in the last opening of my local pool (I missed the first and could not bring myself to the last out of sadness), I managed to swim a kilometer a day everyday with no gaps. This made me tired, so regulated my sleep, got me up early in the morning, gave me a good start to the day, slowed down my consumption of wine and made the rest of the lock down easier to take. (This now gone I am concentrating on late nights and lie ins to make up for the elation, but to date no success).

Work wise all has faded to crash levels, and I am sure this is the case for thousands, but my work in education continues. Thankfully this has provided me with something to focus on and the enthusiasm of both my young and adult learners has been a source of great strength for me.

Money wise though I don't know  how long more I can take this financial pummelling, it's at stronger levels than the financial crash (the one where we were powerless and sat on by the troika).  But once we are sitting at home inactive we just need to feed ourselves and I suppose that takes only a little cash. 

Government reaction to this situation overall has been reasonable, leaving us with a certain liberty and /or some freedom of choice. However there was some reluctance to tread on the Good Friday protocol and our 'special' relationship with the U.K.  Our Island which may have been insulated by water was not as well protected as, lets say, other Island nations. (travel bans not issued until the emergence of new variant strains of covid).

Whilst these reactions are all subtle I can not avoid noticing some worrying local developments where the state of emergency has been grabbed and actions have been taken that are abuses of authority - the 'power grab' that can happen when peoples attention is diverted by hard circumstance.

Previously I commented on the bad planting on a so called 'covid mobility' route in Grangegorman, Dublin 7, my home patch.  I was so upset by the bad gardening that I posted about it here.  I had my suspicions at the time but lets say that these have been borne out by developments at the site in question since my posting.  The shabby gardening has been redone and corrected, that is fine for sure, but the route which was an official covid mobility scenario, has been made permanent without the crisis being over and with out any normality to patterns of travel being re - established.  I ask the question now is this evidence of a cynical hijacking of power during a crisis by an interested party to speed up their agenda, or even to make their objectives achievable in a time where it is possible, and could there be other such circumstances rearing their heads around out country?

My gaze returns to my fingers,  I hold them up to my face and peer out to the world,  I note that I am weary of it, but my focus can shift with efficiency  between the two, well at least when I  wear the right coloured spectacles!

Monday 4 January 2021


 So on we go with those precious items that mean so much to us, the next is the "Golden Shit Shovel".

It is in fact my second attempt in a couple of days to make this job of work and you can see below in the image on the left that it can be clearly seen how the emulsion, the magic juice of the polaroid has solidified and refused to be squeezed out over the film to process the negative.

This sheet was left out of the fridge for over a month and now I have a better idea of its shelf life once un-thawed (two weeks max).  It is so important that we know the properties of the materials we use and how they react when they hit the air, or indeed react with other substances they come into contact with.

Anyhow, this  small utility shovel used for cleaning ashes from the grate which a few years ago came into its own as an integral part of an art project that went astray. 

Allow me to explain.

I previously tried to tell this tale and had prepared this much of the text back in 2017 which gets the story to a particular point.

This  seasonal anecdote has at its heart the same message as an earlier post on the lilliputian entitled birdstrike

A couple of weeks ago whilst walking into town I happened to pass Bolton Street College and The Chocolate Factory  on my way to power up an Exhibition in the NPA. Something caught my eye as I passed the slightly recessed joint between the Bolton Street building and the tall and elegant industrial facade of the Williams and Wood building, now home to the Chocolate Factory - an arts and Industry building -  the former site of the Irish Toblerone franchise and former home of  Silvermints (an Irish classic).
 Any how I noticed that some unfortunate had found them self in this semi-recessed place caught short with no access to a toilet and poo-ed on the street! Fairly normal thing you might assume.  I being doomed to make this observation was also doomed to pass this space every day for the next two weeks and on each occasion I had to note that this turd was not being removed.

I wondered who was responsible for this liminal space, this no mans land between  public street, educational institution and artistic entrepreneurial space where this rock now resided and was settling  in.

I looked and thought deeply. It was to the right of the Chocolate factory but a few inches directly outside the DIT College, but sitting back off the footpath, the domain of the City Council.


so to continue....

Looking at this everyday and seeing that it was only some 20 metres from two Dublin City  Council bins that flanked the entrance to Bolton Street College and also noting that the street was regularly swept, I was bewildered. I though and I thought, how could I express my disbelief in my cities ability to perform a simple clean-up. 

I had the following Idea, I could put the shit in the bin, but before I did I could paint it Gold, photograph it and create a  GOLDEN TURD  award and present it to the cleansing departments local office responsible for this spot. Then the award could become an annual event, where some incompetent official is awarded this stinker every year.

Given that this is a negative kind of award, we should really concentrate on the upside/not the downside and considering the logistical difficulties and the possibilities of infection in the field you would think that my mind would be the terminal point of this pre-occupation.

But after locating the  above shovel in my back garden, purchasing a can of gold spray in Evans Art Shop and securing a set of conservation grade surgical type gloves, I made my plan.

So late one January night 2017 I set out with my Hasselblad H3D 50, 80mm lens, flash, gold paint, gloves and Shovel!!

I have to admit I felt rather nervous as I approached the field of play, paranoid you might say. I felt as if I was being followed, being watched, surveilled by some dark dank force.

I approached the stool and took out my spray can and started to spray giving it a good solid coat.

I fired up my camera and flash and started to shoot, I was feeling the world closing down on me and even as there was no one around could feel my presence being observed by some horrible and remote person who was judging me and my actions, so i moved quickly.  Shot, got the shove picked up the Poo and moved the few metres to the council bin, dropped it in and put the now contaminated shovel in a plastic bag.

I was shocked when i got home to find that the paint had not cured on the poo and only the ground had got a good coat of golden paint and this put a stop to my overzealous plans to bring the powers that be too boot.

So I reverted to my previous good news only position, but swore I would learn a little more about the substances i was dealing with and how they wold react with the air and other materials they came into contact with.....

And of course we must also remember that no experience is lost on us and every little event is a means to incrementally advance our knowledge!


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.}

The Dimco Gray company managed to escape this downturn, and 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 does not negatively 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.