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Fiona O’Brien

fifi_design@yahoo.co.uk Website

Irish Lights

‘Irish Lights’ is a film installation which was developed on revisiting my melancholy dream like memories connected to my family. Stemming from an interest in family, life experiences and storytelling. The subject matter is the Dublin dockland and The Commissioners of Irish Lights, often shortened to Irish Lights, the body that serves as the general lighthouse authority for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and their adjacent seas and islands. My father used to work for this organisation when he was younger.

The work integrates still photography from a family album and interviews with my father, which are combined to construct the film’s. The work becomes a biographical document, a portrait of my father’s time at sea and with Irish Lights. The work is driven by an aspiration to question the formation of my identity, heritage and cultural awareness of Dublin, a love of the sea, Ireland’s coastline and Light Houses. The works enable the viewer to engage its coastline a shared memory of my father’s time at Irish Lights.

In addition to the still family photographs the film also uses a series of visual references and sound sources to speak about the Irish Lights and working at sea. These take the form of analogue communication technology such as the fog horns, paper maps, the telephone, morse code, radar signals, analogue radio transmission, light signals, and the compass. Many of the tasks that were once undertaken by men working for Irish Lights have now been replaced by automated technologies. The film in a broad sense speaks about the passing of time, social change and human and technological obsolescence.

The work which was created during Covid-19 lockdown required certain forms of communication due to distance and unpredictable times. Created by a series of texts, phone calls and recordings with my family the work created emotions of isolation; how to navigate the storm through remote communication and to arrive at the final destination, which in turn became a metaphor reflecting the journey at sea and the lighthouses of Ireland surrounded by a storm.

These works act as a mechanism to speak about memory and societal transformation merging the emotionally personal and the political.

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