Making It Home is a series of photographs shot between 2014 and 2015 that explores the re-settlement of 11 Irish ex-servicemen to Cleenish Island, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Began during the Centenary of World War One the project explores the story and legacy of this unique part of the post war re-housing scheme developed under the Irish Land (Provision for Soldiers and Sailors) Act 1919. Inspired by the postwar regeneration drive in Britain the idea of “homes fit for heroes” became the guiding force in what became an Anglo-Irish project to house and grant land to eligible Irish Ex-Servicemen who fought in the war.
Cleenish Island itself was a curious site to build these homes, given that there was no access except via boat. Combined with the fact that of the eleven men granted homes many were suffering from either mental or physical injuries from the war and had little or no experience of farming, it is not surprising that many of the men found life on Cleenish very difficult, and looked to build a life somewhere less isolated only a few years into their tenancy. By the time a bridge was built in 1956 only one man remained on the island — named Johnny Balfour. The fate of the rest was unknown until recently. Upon walking the island today only Johnny Balfour’s home, which is still inhabited by his son and daughter, remains intact. The other 10 homes are largely in a state of complete disrepair or completely demolished, leaving today only ruins of these former soldiers’ homes.
By connecting to a site such as Cleenish Island to the war crossed men that once lived here we indelibly link the site to this time in history and place it amongst the long list of sites bearing stories from the aftermath of conflict. The landscape and remaining soldiers’ houses of Cleenish Island now serve as a biographer to this time, allowing us to place a specific site to each man so that we may remember them and their continued struggle to survive, and re-build their lives after making it home.
— Mark Rhead, London
Much of my work could be seen as an attempt to decelerate or suspend the irreversible flow of time. The Out of Season series uses the disappearing motels of Wildwood, New Jersey as its subject matter and endeavors to bring out the interplay of an idealized past and its inexorable disappearance.
People inhabit these images only by inference and allusion; and in many ways, it’s this physical absence from which the work draws its strength. Impressions are made at a more elemental depth, below explicit communication, echoing that most universal of all human experiences: the relentless passage of time what is left behind in its wake.
When I make photographs, I continually find myself coming back to something Milton Glaser said: “I am more interested in what you can’t tell a story about. Which is to say, the overtones of our subconscious, the connections that are made below the level of narrative.”
— Mark Havens, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
The Smile of God follows the Connecticut River Valley from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Long Island Sound. I made several trips to the river in 2014 to photograph a region that was, for several centuries, one of the engines of American prosperity. The valley produced firearms and machine tools, automobiles, board games and life insurance. Apart from a few remaining pockets of great affluence, the region has been in economic decline for decades.
The title, The Smile of God, appears in at least two popular histories of development on the river from the early 20th century. The authors assert it’s a translation of the name the native populations gave the river before the arrival of white settlers, but I haven’t found any credible citations for this. The river and the geography of the valley are beautiful and ancient, and so are many of its towns and cities, but the works of the European settlers were built on blood and bones.
— Mark Barnette, Portland, Maine, USA
Through my fractured imagery I explore the influence of memories and perception on the state of the environment. The images create a venue for social commentary and the population’s “collective” memory.
Everyone views the world from their personal perspective, seeing their environment in a unique way. Any two people will recall different images of the same scene or event. My images serve as a metaphor to those landscapes seen by many eyes and varying recollections. The fragmented pieces of our communal memory of an event are presented as they are truly experienced by the population in multiple frames, viewpoints, and perspectives.
The fractured imagery reminds us of the limitations of film-based capture and the limitations of our memories. We cannot capture a complete moment of time with a photograph, just as we can never remember a complete moment of time accurately. Humans can only remember bits and pieces of a moment, and as time moves on biases and changed perspectives cloud that vision.
— Mark L. Eshbaugh, Westford, Massachusetts, USA
Guided by the allure of the unexpected and the revisiting of my personal past, I began to make photographs in my home state of Wisconsin in 2005. Coinciding with increasing political attention on Wisconsin, I traversed the entire state several times over the course of five years. The image of Wisconsin being portrayed on the national stage was quite different than the one I had come to know over a life lived within its borders.
These photographs constitute a personal and unique portrayal of the state. They are steeped in unassuming Midwestern solitude, populated by timeless characters, and set in a landscape that is neither dull nor spectacular and always seasonally in flux. While these photographs may live within the stereotypes of the Midwest, they also confound them with a reverent and dignified perspective on the land and people of Wisconsin.
Absorbing wit, humor, melancholy, and irony, the photographs in On Wisconsin seek surprise in the familiar and familiarity in the new. The images transcend the mere documentation of place to become paragraphs unto themselves, countering the instantaneous nature of our era and inviting the viewer to pause.
— Mark Brautigam, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA