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New Irish Works II: Noel Bowler and Dara McGrath

By 02/08/2016February 24th, 2019New Irish Works, News

4-21 August
Opening: 6pm 18 August
At The Library Project

For the second edition of New Irish Works 2016, PhotoIreland presents Noel Bowler’s Union and Dara McGrath’s Project Cleansweep.

Every month from July 2016 to July 2017, a special presentation will be hosted at The Library Project for two selected New Irish Works artists at a time. The presentation will include a display and a launch of a publication for each artist’s project.

Find out more and pre-order your copies at

Union is a series of photographs made in the trade union offices of fourteen different countries around the world. Taken over a four year period defined by increased worker insecurity and changing work practices, this body of work is a response to the current recession and its impact upon the working landscape. The constant threat of redundancy, a move towards working from home, the role of gender inequality and the role of decision makers within the Union movement are all central themes that are explored in this body of work.
These photographs document the presidium like interiors of a number of trade union offices in Ireland, Britain, France, Russia, Scandinavia and the United States. Although situated in different societies that have distinct cultural and historical differences in the evolution of how labour was organised, these offices all share commonalities in terms of bureaucratic and organisational structures. These in turn inform how the iconography of organised labour emerged within a society. Interspersed with portraits of contemporary union leaders, this series seeks to interrogate the constructed nature of organised labour, alluding to the immense workings of power defined by a nineteenth century ideology, as well as the hidden decision making process that occurs within the spatial confines of these buildings.

Project Cleansweep
Project Cleansweep takes its name from a Ministry of Defence (MoD) report called Operation Cleansweep issued in 2011,identifying sites in the UK where tens of thousands of tonnes of mustard gas, phosgene and other lethal chemicals were, since World War 1, made, processed, stored, burned and dumped in England, Wales and Scotland. To this day such sites along with biological weapons testing, which chemical weapons is inextricably linked to, remain problematic even today when they have been returned to civilian usage.
Details of Operation Cleansweep was released into the public realm to provide “reassurance” that residual contamination at UK sites did not pose a risk to human health or the environment. Even today some of these sites have ongoing testing to monitor for contaminants. In all 14 sites were identified in this report. Subsequent research uncovered a further 56+ sites in the UK where chemical and biological weapons were once manufactured, stored, and tested. These sites are now almost all returned to civilian use, and are now within the landscape as local bathing spots, publicparks, pathways, deer sanctuaries, industrial estates and petro-chemical facilities amongst others.
They are post militarised environments and infrastructure, and a reminder still of what was a sustained military land grab in the 20th century, when over 371,000 hectares of the British landmass was reserved and appropriated for military use


About New Irish Works
Selected by an international panel of 23 professionals, New Irish Works brings you a selection of 20 projects and 20 photographers representing the diverse range of practices coming from Ireland. New Irish Works 2016 is a year long project of 10 presentations and 20 publications that aims to highlight the great moment Irish Photography is experiencing.

The artists selected are Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Aisling McCoy, Caitriona Dunnett, Dara McGrath, Daragh Soden, David Thomas Smith, Eanna de Freine, Emer Gillespie, Enda Bowe, Jan McCullough, Jill Quigley, Kate Nolan, Mandy O’Neill, Matthew Thompson, Miriam O’Connor, Noel Bowler, Robert McCormack, Roseanne Lynch, Shane Lynam, and Yvette Monahan.

Every month from July 2016 to July 2017, a special presentation will be hosted at The Library Project for two of the selected artists at a time. The presentation will include a display and a publication for each artist’s project. The two artists that will be presented during PhotoIreland Festival 2016 are Daragh Soden and Mandy O’Neill.

As part of the project, PhotoIreland will bring New Irish Works abroad at key events like PhotoEspaña, with the support of the Embassy of Ireland in Madrid, and to Paris during Paris Photo, with the support of the Centre Culturel Irlandais and Culture Ireland.