PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIDIE LEWIS
Bridie Lewis’s Yer Not In The North Now Ya Know is an exploration of the island of Ireland’s border through photography. Lewis’ project raises questions as to what borders are, why they are and how we photograph them. Ireland as a place is full of history, questions and curiosities for its many visitors however its border between the UK and Irish Republic is a unique place in its own right.
Spanning for nearly 300 miles from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough, the Irish border was created in 1922 when Ireland became a free state and Ulster remained British. The now invisible divide zigzags up and down the two countries, sometimes it stretches along roads then other times it cuts through rivers and even divides small villages.
Long gone are the days of customs posts that acted as pin points for the dividing line. Today the border is open as both States share a common travel area so much so that the markings of the border are inconspicuous, there isn’t the traditional road signage that notifies travellers when they are crossing into a new country, it really is just a line on the map. However, both sides of the border have shared a long conflicting history which makes the concept of an open border even more confusing for people who do not know or understand Irelands history.
On the 23rd June 2016 Britain voted to leave the EU raising more questions than answers in the political sphere. Now the question of the Irish Border has gained greater significance. Its landscape, communities and politics is a place with a troubled past and now an even more uncertain future. It is the question of the Irish Border that inspired me to begin this project.
Over the course of seven months Bridie Lewis frequently drove up and down the borderline of Ireland, through towns, villages and rural backroads. However, she didn’t just drive the line of the border she hopped back and forth from North to South. Influenced by the writings of Colm Tóibín and Garret Carr, who have each journeyed and examined the Irish border themselves, Lewis’ often stopped to examine the desolate beauty of the places and landscape that the border holds.
Yer Not In The North Now Ya Know addresses contexts of landscape, documentary and topographics. Throughout the images the absence of people is juxtaposed with traces of human activity, like a bin on fire, an abandoned lorry and a boat in the sea. Furthermore, there is a celebration of colour photography throughout the project from American influences such as Stephen Shore and Robert Sternfeld. In particular Shores, American Surfaces and Sternfeld’s, American Prospects.