“There’s a primeval plain to the south / There’s a flashing river-mouth / There’s a virgin soil – no flesh hand can crop it.”
So reads a verse by the late poet Patrick Kavanagh, identified for his vivid depiction of on a regular basis rural life in Ireland. The poem, “Possessing Eden”, is excerpted in Irish Work, a brand new ebook from photographer Tom Wood. Like Kavanagh’s poem, Irish Work depicts the unchanging, untameable countryside in Ireland, and the individuals who stay inside it.
Tom Wood is probably finest identified for his pictures of the retro golf equipment, bus stops and rubble-strewn streets of Merseyside within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties. He has gained a repute as one of the perfect photographers of his era, because of his delicate method to his topics, who’re all the time captured with dignity and humanity – he was so embedded in the area people that the locals affectionately referred to as him “photie man”.
He is technically good too, an professional in growing photographs as a lot as taking them, reproducing gentle, color and pores and skin tone to present his work a tactile, luminous high quality. He had his first main British present at The Photographers’ Gallery in London in 2012, and his work has influenced a quantity of photographers, from Martin Parr to Corinne Day.
But Wood’s story actually begins in County Mayo in 1951, the place he was born to a Catholic mom and a Protestant father. In the Nineteen Fifties, this marriage was seen as scandalous and the household was handled with hostility by the area people, ultimately main them to maneuver to England when Wood was a teen.
Wood returned to Ireland yearly, staying on the previous household farm, which was nonetheless run by family. At 21, after having picked up images whereas at artwork college, he started what would change into a life-spanning mission photographing the place of his childhood and surrounding areas, meditating on nature, household, time and spirituality.
Irish Work, printed by RRB Photobooks, collects greater than 200 of these pictures of west Ireland spanning practically 50 years. Largely targeted on on a regular basis rural life, they’re introduced out of chronological order, exhibiting few adjustments to life and panorama over the many years – time is gauged principally by the reduce of a topic’s trousers, or Wood’s swap from analogue to digital in 2010. Landscape dominates the ebook, reproduced in all its rain-soaked brilliance because of Wood’s outstanding method with color.
Although he’s finest identified for documentary-style photographs of individuals, road images isn’t fairly the precise time period for his work. Wood initially educated as a effective artwork painter at Leicester Polytechnic, and his work is extra ambiguous and slow-burning than the exhausting and quick “decisive moment” central to a lot of road images. His Irish mission permits him to discover this tendency in direction of a drifting, dreamlike ambiguity, his painterly qualities evident within the landscapes visited decade after decade.
Irish Work by Tom Wood is out there now from RRB Photobooks