Bygone era in Inis MeáinJune 8, 2012 - 7:00am
Inis Meáin – August 1973 is the title of a new exhibition from English photographer and film maker Chris Rodmell, which is running on the island until August 15. It’s at the Inis Meáin Knitting Company.
At a time when the majority of photographers were using black and white films, Chris used colour to capture daily life on the most remote of the three Aran Islands. Thirty-nine years on the colour gives a fresh relevance to the photos.
The Aran Islands were in decline for much of the 20th century but the 1970s marked a period of change because of a combination of development, Gaeltacht recognition, continuing emigration and population decline.
That was the last decade when Inis Meáin was still ‘isolated’ from cultural developments that were radically changing other parts of Ireland and Western Europe. At that time it was rarely visited by outsiders; strongly influenced in its traditions and attitudes by subsistence farming and unpredictable weather. People there lived without modern facilities that many parts of the western world had enjoyed for decades, such as electricity and running water.
That lifestyle, now gone, provides the theme of the photographs, but Inis Meáin continues to be a stronghold of Irish culture. The strength of our arts and culture in the current economic downturn shows that riches are not just related to money, a fact that underpins the relevance of this exhibition.