Absence is a recurring theme in the photography of Amelia Stein RHA.
Erris comprises of two distinct bodies of work, taken in the wild Atlantic location of the Barony of Erris, Dún Chaoicháin, County Mayo. Wild and bleak, this landscape has challenged and shaped its inhabitants over the Millennia.
This exhibition at the RHA, in galleries 2 and 3, investigates the human presence in the landscape by the construct of studies of sky and bog. Sky, that immense and charged element, dominates and scores these images. The implied presence of the markings in the earth made by the hand cutting of the turf banks to gather fuel, the evidence of labour, of subsistence is audible in the ridges and plains of these hand worked pits. These bogs are not the wild heathlands but the scared worked surfaces of the turf cutting. The stacking and protection of the saved turf is almost anthropomorphic, telling of the personalities of those working the bog. An art form in itself, the cutting marks bear the hallmark of each individual turf cutters style and strength. These stacks of turf, dried and awaiting consumption as fuel to heat homes, are defacto sculptural forms placed in the landscape.
Habitations, sometimes domestic, sometimes agricultural, and sometimes an evolution from one to the other vie with the topography for equality under the indifferent and vast sky. Photographed with a sense of theatricality under the great sky’s and weather patterns that are ever present in North Mayo. There is an implied presence in the vocabulary used to describe these structures, the family name of previous inhabitants or owners. The human connection still alive in the vocabulary of the local inhabitants, a verbal History.
These images are presented as large scale unframed works 1.5m x 1m and 1 x 1m respectively.
As a Performing Arts Photographer, Stein has worked in Theatre and Opera in Ireland, 1987 -2000. Her signature black and white portraiture featured widely in the music industry. Elected a member of the RHA, 2004 and of Aósdana, 2006. Represented by Oliver Sears Gallery http://www.oliversearsgallery.com/artists/amelia-stein-rha/ work can be viewed http://www.ameliastein.com/