Paul Carroll is a self-taught photographer. It is after time spent travelling and many photographic experiments, that the first ideas for a project start to germinate. He is very interested by the concept of place, as a place of life, a functional place, a meeting place. He also explores the sometimes embittered relations between the Irish communities and their environment, in his work. Gaelic sports, the federator of the national culture, interests him further as subject to study.
For seven years, Carroll spent time travelling to over one hundred towns and villages in Ireland, photographing women’s and men’s football, hurling and camogie games. Through his shots, it isn’t so much the action of the game that he seeks to capture but the appropriation of spaces by the community, be it living, working or recreational spaces. GAA clubs (Gaelic Athletic Association) are very present in rural areas, they often had to fight battles to acquire their land, sometimes at the cost of sacrifices and compromises. It is, for example, quite incongruous, that a club has built its stands around a hundred-year-old tree, nothing can deprive the fans of their best point of view on the game. Through some clever framing, Paul Carroll also reveals the links that exist between spaces. With a plant in the background and the ground in the foreground, he creates the meeting point between places of work and the players.
In the style of the photographer Hans van der Meer whom he admires, Carroll has created a photographic book gathering 65 shots and retracing the decisive moments of the games. Throughout the pages, it is the attachment of the communities to their teams, to their territory that becomes apparent. This book, entitled Gaelic Fields, was awarded, at its release in 2016, the Irish Times’ ‘photobook of the year’ award. Some shots were also exhibited in 2018 at The Library Project (PhotoIreland) in Templebar in Dublin. The volume itself is sold online or available at many libraries in Ireland and around the world.
Today, Carroll’s research leads him to another project, around degraded landscapes. He feels that although the Irish have a strong connection to the land, they also put it’s future at risk with the mountains of waste they abandon. For this new work, Paul Carroll leaves color photography in favor of black and white. He wants to sublimate the horror, so as to cause an awareness in the viewer.
While waiting for the release of this next book, you can follow his work online:
Rachel Chenu – 2019
(Article in French on Pausart.fr)