Okay, sorry. I couldn't help that. You can shoot me now.
I traveled to Tipperary, to the lovely town of Cloughjordan, to see the work of my good friend, Dave Kennedy, former co-owner of Road Records, and now, professional photographer, who was exhibiting at this lovely bookstore, Sheelagh na Gig.
TANGENT ALERT: Some of you may think you know a thing or two about the owner of Road Records from a little book you've read, but actually that book was fiction, let me repeat that, fiction, as in, not true, so please dispense any thoughts you have in your mind about that. The only thing Dave ever said to me that I used in the book was: "At least we have the rubbish weather to keep us from being completely miserable." A sentiment I have well come to understand, and one that I couldn't even come close to expressing in as eloquently a manner, hence my stealing it straight out of his mouth for my own selfish purposes.
And, given that this blog is an attempt to write about my travels and Ireland and other assorted adventures in a truthful way, on the count of three, let's all disconnect from the world of make-believe.
Well, all of you except me, that is, because it turns out I'm not very good at this truth thing. Turns out I'm quite the cheater, actually.
I've been following Dave's photos for a long time on his blog, and it's been quite frustrating to only be able to see his B&W prints smooshed into thumbnails. They are sweeping, haunted landscapes, shot in infrared, and I know I'm not getting nearly a fraction of the impact of these shots. That's why I decided to head up to Tipperary--it's the first time I've had a visit coincide with one of his exhibits and I didn't want to miss it.
I was so excited though, that before I even boarded the train, I'd already decided what I was going to say. Two days ahead of my trip I draft-blogged that stunning as his work was online, it simply couldn't compare to the full size prints. I even had an oh-so-clever analogy: comparing his web and print shots to digital and analog--that like digital music, his web images don't even begin to capture the majesty and fullness and richness of the landscapes. I was oh-so-proud of that one, you know, the whole music analogy thing, given his previous vocation. And it sounded so nice and spontaneous.
Except it wasn't. Because I wrote it before I ever saw the prints.
So the truth is (and really, this is the truth this time) even had I gone ahead and posted just that and not confessed, that statement doesn't come close to doing his photos justice. I have literally no visual arts training, but as a writer, I do feel I owe Dave something far more descriptive and poetic than that.
So, let me put it this way. I went to the bookshop to see Dave's prints, but I also timed my visit to coincide with a writer's group meeting. I've been wanting to attend a writer's group in Ireland for a very, very long time, and given that I am about to undertake another set of revisions on my book, I was really looking forward to the chance to meet some working writers. Lucky I was, because this group was made up of an extraordinarily nice and diverse group of people, and I felt very privileged to be so readily welcomed into their circle.
As we went around the group and everyone read their work--some excerpts more polished than others--my eyes remained fixated on one of Dave's prints, hanging above the back door. It's a small skiff or rowboat, sitting in the tall grass on the edge of a lake in County Mayo, another boat in the background.
And sitting in that room with the full size print straight in my line of sight, my ears completely tuned in to the musical voices around me, I found my heart lighting straight out for that boat. I wanted to climb in it. I wanted to lie down in it. I wanted to cast off the rope and float on the lake until I had nothing left to think about. I was exactly where I had wanted to be for so long, surrounded by writers, and yet, there was Dave's photo, tugging me elsewhere.
And such is Dave's art: a fabulous revisioning and interpretation of some of Ireland's landscapes that gives you a peek into a world that Dave has not only photographed, but re-imaged through his own wildly creative eyes.
When the continents all smoosh back together into Pangea II, meaning I don't have to worry about overhead bins, I will be taking a whole bunch of these home.