Martina Mullaney: Turn In

  March –
April 2004

Image by Martina Mullaney from the exhibition Turn In at Gallery of Photography Ireland, March 12 -April 11 2004.

We “turn in” for the night when we need comfort and rest. But for people without a home, this is not such an easy option. Beds can be found in night shelters and hostels, but they are only a temporary solution to a more fundamental issue: that is a sense of isolation, which is one of the most devastating effects of a sustained period of homelessness. Isolation and loneliness, manifest in so many aspects of life is a central theme in Martina Mullaney’s work.

Martina’s work is directly informed by her experience of working closely with clients of night shelters and hostels over recent years. In the accompanying “Dinner for One” series the decline of the ritual of the daily evening meal and the growth in the number of people who eat alone further explores this theme.

An integral part of this exhibition is an installation of images produced by residents of night shelters and hostels around Dublin. Following discussions with Martina, participants were encouraged to express their concerns and individual experiences in photographic form. As co-conspirators in this project participants give us direct insight into the plight of the homeless. This collaborative process continues to inform Martina’s own practice.

“Turn In” comprises lavish and elegant large-scale colour prints. Contrary to its austere theme, the images initially appear luminous and seductive, yet upon closer inspection the photographs reveal evidence of alienation and melancholy. Here the detritus of occupation in the form of graffiti, scant belongings and the stark atmosphere of the institution are omnipresent. Finding beauty in these spaces raises ethical issues about the representation of the dispossessed. In not giving us sentimentalised portraits of the marginalised, Mullaney, in a very apposite way, provokes critical and aesthetic debate about how any artist can adequately represent the experience of other people, alone, impoverished or otherwise.

Artists Talk: Martina will give a talk at 1.15pm on Friday 12th March. Admission is free, all are welcome.

Martina Mullaney and the Gallery of Photography would like to thank the residents and staff at the following organisations for their contribution to Turn In: Canal Road / Ranelagh Road – Dublin Simon Community; Cobra House and Whitworth Road – Fr Peter McVerry ; Back Lane Hostel – St Vincent de Paul; The Extension, Spokes, The Coffee Shop, Georges Hill – Focus Ireland; Cedar House – Salvation Army; John Cluskey / Kodak and Derek McCauley and Jack Gilligan, Arts office, Dublin City Council.

About the artist

Martina Mullaney is an artist from Co. Mayo. She studied Fine Art at Sligo Institute of Technology and Photography at the School of Art, Media and Design, University of Wales College Newport. She has exhibited widely in the UK and is currently undertaking an MA at the Royal College of Art, London.

A Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales, Touring Exhibition

Outreach Project organised in collaboration with Dublin City Council.