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The photograph of Paddy Hanrahan collecting seaweed as fertilizer for his garden near Cappa, Kilrush features in the exhibition.

Champion photographer’s exhibition takes off at airport

AN exhibition celebrating the career of Clare Champion photographer John Kelly goes on display at Shannon Airport from this Friday and will remain on show throughout the month of August.

The exhibition, Between You, Me & The Wall, was previously on display in Glór last year and drew on his 25 years at work in The Clare Champion and is now being brought to this second venue, in conjunction with Shannon Airport.

Speaking this week, John said he had really enjoyed selecting the work that features in the exhibition.

“I even found stuff I had forgotten I had. It’s nice to go back and see how things have changed, see how people have changed, cars have changed, hairstyles have changed, attitudes have changed; everything has changed in 25 years.”

When he entered newspaper photography in the early ’90s, the technology being used was wildly different to today.

“We started off in the dark room, shooting all black and white film, processing with chemicals. In fact, the whole building used to smell of the chemicals we used there. That was how it was in those days. We went digital in 2000 and we thought we would have loads of spare time but effectively all the time went into computer work.”

Over the years, he has covered events such as the visits of George Bush and Donald Trump and Clare’s All-Ireland wins, although he says he takes a lot of enjoyment from photographing everyday people also.

Asked about the highlights of his career, the Mullagh man said the opportunity to photograph Clare people in different parts of the world for a special book, The Scattering, was very memorable.

“I would have to say that being released to go on The Scattering project for six and a half weeks around the world was one of the highlights of my career. I travelled to England, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. Other highlights were spending a week in Lourdes in 1996, that also comes to mind. I also like photographing low-key, ordinary, everyday people. For example, people who go quietly about their business. We had the oldest woman in Ireland in Clare, Nora Canavan, who I photographed a year ago on her 107th birthday. To meet her was inspirational really because she had lived so long and through so much. She was an ordinary person but she had been through everything and to meet someone like that is a privilege.”

Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport operations director, said, “Shannon Airport is delighted to house John Kelly’s stunning exhibition Between You Me & The Wall, which really is a wonderful collection of images from over a quarter of a century of life in County Clare from one of Ireland’s most gifted newspaper photographers. The images are drawn from key events in Clare during that time but some, in fact, are of just moments, people and places that John captured in passing in his own inimitable and captivating way. That’s what sets him apart; his eye for a photograph.

His images jump off the pages of The Clare Champion every week and make it far more than a quality local newspaper but also a real pictorial parade of what happens in Clare week in, week out.

“We are very keen to make the airport walls available for exhibitions of all sorts and have done so over the years. It’s our way of supporting local artists and John is certainly one of them. But it also adds to the passenger experience here and our passengers will certainly get a lot of enjoyment from John’s photographs.”

The exhibition will be located on the first floor, close to the security desk for departing passengers.

Owen Ryan

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