Shane Hynan’s ongoing photographic series Beneath | Beofhód explores the bogs of the Irish midlands and the culture around them. While the wider body of work deals with themes of loss, change, duality, resilience and fragility, this exhibition draws specifically upon the theme of tradition and modernity and how they overlap in modern Ireland.
Bogs are intrinsic to the cultural identity of the Irish midlands through decades of peat harvesting for employment, and centuries of turf cutting for domestic fuel. These activities however have led to significant depletion of peatlands and in recent years legitimate environmental concerns have resulted in pressure to preserve the remaining bogs.
Although this body of work records the end of an era, as Ireland’s working relationship with bogs transitions towards conservation, it is also a metaphorical exploration of Ireland, society and self. The use of photography as a tool for expression, drawing on an emotional and intuitive connection with landscape and terrain, is a central concern within the work and underpins the visual enquiry.
Bogs are alive. They are living, breathing ecosystems with the power to absorb and reveal the past, and their layered meanings and interpretations provide a rich ground for metaphor and symbolism which deeply informs this work. Furthermore Beofhód is an Irish word which translates as ‘life beneath the sod’ which allows our excavation of bogs to be re-imagined as an archaeology of history.
Beneath | Beofhód is kindly funded by Kildare County Council Arts Service and the Arts Council of Ireland.
About the Artist:
Shane Hynan is a visual artist and photographer based in Kildare, Ireland. In 2019 he completed an MFA in Photography at Ulster University following a career change from structural engineering. He currently works full time developing his visual arts practice.
Hynan’s photographic practice draws upon conceptual and documentary photographic approaches and focuses on rural Ireland, bogs and the built environment. He utilises both digital and analogue photographic techniques and experiments with video, sound, text and sculpture within his wider practice.
In 2020 he received the ‘Emerging Visual Artist Bursary Award’ from Kildare Arts Service. He’s had a number of solo exhibitions and shown work in Draíocht, Photo Museum Ireland, PhotoIreland, Limerick City Gallery of Art, National Museum of Ireland and RHA. His work has been exhibited in China and the UK and shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibition 162 and 163.