A Fading Landscape

Oscillating between memory and presence, nostalgia and  reality, ‘A Fading Landscape’ blends photographs, archive footage, objects and artefacts to create a narrative about notions of heritage, issues of identity and legacies in relation to the history of the land.

I come from a long line of farmers, connected to and embedded within the same place for a century and beyond. The landscape is the embodiment of the labour and love of generations of men - a history of agricultural continuity that can be traced back to the mid 19th century. In 1848, Irelands Valuation office conducted its first survey of property ownership in Ireland - the ‘Griffiths Report’. The report details 36 tenants living in Cloonalough - a farming community located close to the Mayo border in Roscommon county. Houses were arranged in clusters - small groups of homesteads rented under the auspices of a local landlord for individual and collective tillage use. Listed in one of these groups was the homestead of two farm labourers - Luke and Thomas Cregg and in another group the family Cruise, my mother’s maiden name.

Our precious heritage, manifested in the sod and the grass, the turf and the mead, the ditches and dirt, the trees and the briars that surround our home, has been passed on from father to son, from generation to generation, for almost two hundred years.

I am the last first-born male to inherit the burden and pressure of expectation of on both sides of my family. This work explores the relationship between myself and my rural background, my memories of home and my search to find my place within it at this point of my life. There is a direct relationship between my role as a photographer and my family’s world of work and my rural background - a delicate and uncomfortable balancing-act between belonging and disassociation. There is a longing to connect, or reconnect, to the place and to the family. Yet, the overriding impression or feeling is one of ‘distance’.