INIS MEÁIN 1973-2023 by Chris Rodmell
INIS MEÁIN 1973-2023 by Chris Rodmell
Chris Rodmell Inis Meáin 1973-2023.
Photographing 50 years apart, the book chronicles the culture and way of life on the island and how it has changed in half a century.
The second largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Meáin is situated across the mouth of Galway Bay on the West coast of Ireland. When Chris Rodmell arrived in 1973 the island was eagerly anticipating the arrival of electricity, the population of just over 300 people taken up with trades of fishing and cattle rearing. 50 years on, less has changed than might be expected. Fishing and cattle rearing are still a large part of the way of life, along with the Inis Meáin Knitting Company, founded in 1976, is the island’s largest employer producing Contemporary Irish knitwear.
" Such a beautiful book from the opening pages. The gentle, distinct sense of Ireland and the islands is there from the outset. No forced cliches nor traditional 'Irishism' in the mix. It seeps authentic Arran Island and rural Ireland in all its harshness and its beauty. The inclusion of text throughout the book, pulling back the viewer sharply to the context of island life, enhances the pictures in a way that makes you revisit the previous images again, just to reinforce to yourself the beauty is underpinned with challenge. This is a stunning set of pictures and one for all lovers of photography from Ireland” - Tracy Marshall
Rodmell first visited the island after winning a £250 award from Thames Television to film life in an “enclosed community living on one of the remote islands off Ireland or Scotland.” Setting off with a 16mm Bolex, tape recorder and a medium format Mamiya, Rodmell spent three weeks with the people of Inis Meáin and has maintained a lifelong admiration for the place and its culture. Rodmell revisited a number of times in the intervening years, and in 1996 began to rephotograph in earnest for what would become Inis Meáin 1973-2023
The book comprises two halves, the first containing the photographs from 1973 and a few stills from the 16mm film, the second reflecting back from our vantage point in 2023. Rodmell’s moving image background is evident in his approach to photography, weaving the narratives of everyday life together giving the viewer an immersive experience of island life across the decades. The book is interspersed throughout with interview excerpts from the 1973 film connecting the islanders through time.
"amazing to see" - Martin Parr
A foreword is contributed by Tarlach de Blácam, founder of the Inis Meáin Knitting Company, who also moved to the island in 1973 and a reflective essay by schoolteacher Róisín Conneely who was born and raised on the island. The text is presented in both Gaelic and English; the Aran islands boast one of the highest concentrations of Gaelic speakers anywhere in the world with many residents still speaking it as their primary tongue. The preservation of the language is bound together with the preservation of island traditions and these texts provide important context for Rodmell’s work and his place within the island’s community.
Inis Meáin 1973-2023 is published in a first edition of 400 and including a special edition of 30 copies with two 10x8” signed and limited Giclée prints available for pre-order exclusively from RRB Photobooks. The book is designed and edited by Jotte Studio.
Chris Rodmell was born in Surrey. He studied film and television production at the West Surrey College of Art & Design. He was awarded a Thames Television bursary in his penultimate year and travelled to Inis Meáin to make a documentary film and produce a photographic essay. The film was shown by the BBC in the series ‘The First Picture Show’ . On graduating, he joined the BBC as a film trainee. He has since had a successful almost 50 year career in the film and tv industry in the UK. Throughout his career he has always continued to work on his personal photographic projects.His photography has been published and exhibited world wide.
Listen to Chris Rodmell interview on RTE's Arena here