Republic of Ireland

Miriam O' Connor


Irish artist, Miriam O’Connor (b. 1973) lives and works in the Cork. Drawing inspiration from the language, sights and sounds of the everyday, her photographic practice frequently engages with matters which reflect her everyday surroundings and contemplates the manner in which this persuasive medium permeates the way we engage with the world around us. Rather than providing answers, O’ Connor positions photography as a tool for posing questions, a medium in itself that commands interrogation. Her projects have explored themes around looking and seeing; the relationship between camera and subject, and the complex nature of photographic representation.

She completed a Research Masters at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology, Dublin (2011) and her BA in Photography at TU, Dublin (2007). Her work has been featured in magazines including; Camera Austria, Source Photographic Review, The New York Times and The Guardian. Recent exhibitions include newly commissioned work Isla Blue for Active Archive - Slow Institution - The Long Goodbye at Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2019) and works in The Parted Veil at The Lewis Glucksman, Cork (2019). In 2018 she exhibited in Interiors and Other Landscapes, Sternview Gallery, Cork, RHA Annual Open, Dublin and in Encountering The Land at VISUAL, Carlow. In conjunction with Galleri Image, Denmark, she was commissioned to produce work for FRESH EYES - International Artists Rethink Aarhus, which was exhibited during Aarhus Capital of Culture, 2017. In the same year, her work was part of a touring show Post-Picturesque: Photographing Ireland at Rochester Arts Center and the Perlman Teaching Museum, USA. Publications include, Attention Seekers (2012) The Legacy Project (2013) and Tomorrow is Sunday (2017).

In addition to her art practice and farming, O' Connor also lectures part-time at Griffith College Dublin. Her work is part of FUTURES, a photography platform that pools the resources and talent programmes of leading photography institutions across Europe in order to increase artist visibility.

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Tomorrow is Sunday

Tomorrow is Sunday engages with Miriam return to the family farm following the death of her brother in 2013. Up until this point her brother had thoughtfully managed the farm for almost three decades and the task of keeping things going was then conferred to her and her sister. The project employs photographs, texts, logbooks and inventories, which reflect on this complex transition through labour and everyday farming practices.

Historically women have played pivotal roles in the agriculture industry, but this work has traditionally remained hidden, was often undermined and largely, fiscally unaccounted for. Today in Ireland, there continues to be a significant gender imbalance in farm inheritance and her own experiences reaffirm that while women’s roles and visibility in agriculture have marginally improved, patriarchal legacies of inheritance continue to prevail. Utilising her own first-hand experiences, she recognises it as significant moment to cement new partnerships to amplify the representational deficits that prevail of women’s work in this sector.


Isla Blue

Isla Blue was commissioned for Active Archive – Slow Institution – The Long Goodbye a research project by Lívia Paldi, Curator of Visual Arts, Project Arts Centre, Dublin. This initiative was devised as an exploration of the art centre's history of programming. Between 1998 and 1999, Valerie Connor had curated an Off Site visual arts programme produced by Project Arts Centre during the redevelopment of the art centre building at its current address. Valerie Connor was invited by Lívia Paldi to reflect on the purpose of the Off Site programme.

In 2019, the gallery at Project Arts Centre was transformed into a workspace, where documents relating to its archives and history were shared and examined, giving cause to new conversations and connections to emerge. I was invited to visit locations in Dublin city centre where the Off Site programme had transpired and respond to those places as they are now. Inspired by the spirit of Off Site and its ability as a programme to unfold in both a nomadic and structured manner, I engaged with these places, those events, that history and the city through a contemporary lens. The final sets of photographs were presented in 5 individual folios released at various points throughout the show's duration.


The Legacy Project

The Legacy Project is a commission work with The National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI). The NWCI initiated the Legacy Project to challenge mainstream representations of women and work and to look instead at the alternatives. These commissions aimed to create another kind of public dialogue that would amplify the advocacy work of the NWCI, the membership, interested communities and individuals.

The result of this commission was The Legacy Project a photobook comprising of images taken at the workspaces used by NWCI and its member groups, including some groups that struggle for media visibility and operate in a very transient way, meeting often in improvised settings. Some of the images direct attention outside the frame, towards everyday details and gestures, observed at these workspaces - details that all too often slip beneath the radar of awareness. Additionally, intermingled in the book are excerpts from the NWCI photographic archive - written notes, queries, remarks and images, that evoke memories of work already done, of staff and events that have come and gone. By dwelling on these kinds of photographs, these particular notes and images, we are reminded too about the complex work of representation itself.

The Legacy Project which formed part of the exhibition, Still, We Work was launched at The Gallery of Photography, Dublin on October 18th, 2013.