Cottages of Quigley's Point
This work is a series of interventions in abandoned vernacular dwellings in my local area of Quigley's Point in County Donegal. In a landscape dominated by the legacy of the housing boom the remains of these older cottages are easily found, down country lanes and hidden in clumps of trees. They are known in the community by the names of the families that last lived in them, whether these families still live in the area or have moved away, and reflect that the historical aspects that linger in rural places remain a part of contemporary life.
It is common to read images of derelict cottages in a nostalgic light, celebrating the simplicity of an older way of life with a romantic attachment to hearth and home. This romanticising tendency precludes the encountering of such spaces as they actually are, as part of the current landscape. These redundant interiors allow for appropriation and disruption by adding bright colour and movement, creating a temporary fantastical representation of this aspect of the community. Intervention provides a means of situating the subject in the present.
My motive with this project is to disrupt rather than oppose traditional imagery of the Irish cottage, avoiding the dichotomy of the romanticised and the real. Rather, by interrupting the static interiors of these buildings I add an active and particular dimension to this element of the rural landscape, pursuing a personal means of negotiating past and present in my local community.
Part of my role as roving curator and photographer is to be on the look out for new and interesting work. Often this comes in book form, from the hundreds of individual photographers and small presses that feed the ever-growing appetite for published books. Some of these become known and create a buzz, while many disappear without trace. This market is unforgiving.
Sometimes you come across work that is yet to be published, but is of such quality it could become a book very easily. I very much enjoy identifying under-appreciated and emerging photographers and helping them find an audience.
When I was invited by the newly-established Dortmund Festival to select photographers from my last year’s travels, I chose three bodies of work including Irish photographer, Jill Quigley.
My approach to curating is always to find the best new work then figure out the ideas behind it, rather than start with a theme and try to illustrate this in the work. The work of the three photographers presented here is very different, but shares a common thread: the trend towards staging documentary photographs. These three photographers all stage or intervene in their subject matter in some way. Without this process the work would not really sparkle in the way it does.
Jill Quigley brings her version of the ruin porn trend - a style that depicts decay in the most sumptuous colour. In her native County Donegal, in Ireland, she has located abandoned cottages, and created her own clandestine ‘interventions’ such as a painting of a rainbow or items like coloured string or balloons. Quigley’s purpose is to relocate these cottages into the modern world in order to subvert romantic ideas of the Ireland of the past. The resulting images are a highly personalised take on a familiar theme. Quigley relishes the secret nature of what she does, her interventions hidden away, like the cottages she has located.
Despite the artificiality of all Quigleys project, the process of the recreation or intervention has brought this body of work alive. The unique collaboration between photographer and subject becomes the subject itself. So we learn more, both about the photographer and about the ideas they explore and make their own.
Jill Quigley is from Co. Donegal in Ireland. She recently completed an MFA in Photography at the University of Ulster, Belfast, having previously studied Art History at Trinity College, Dublin. Cottages of Quigley's Point is her masters project. It was featured in the British Journal of Photography's 'Ones to Watch' edition in January and in March will be included in group exhibitions in Swansea and Belfast.
March's featured photographer was Jill Quigley edited by Martin Parr