Anam Cara, Irish for Soul Friend, is an ode to love, friendship and life. It represents my forming and continued growth as a person through those I hold dear. The project is based on John O’Donohue’s writings on Celtic Spirituality and the ethereal relationship between the aforementioned.
This current period in time has led to much introspection and soul searching. During the first lockdown I spent a lot of time walking through Epping Forrest. This change of environment paved a cathartic epoch during which I began reflecting on the people and experiences that have formed my life. Having grown up in Ireland amongst nature and subsequently moving to London I had failed to recognise the void which this had consequentially left in my life. These excursions were spent alone and in a contemplative state, it is believed in Celtic Spiritualism that solitude brings forth the true sentiments of the soul. This unreservedly led to emotions of both joy and deep sadness due to the passing of a number of close friends.
There is a divine interwoven relationship between people, nature and experience, without religious prescription. When my friend Anthony died through suicide of the subsequent thoughts and emotional grappling which ensued, I realised that I could not disassociate my experience of life from his image. Recurrent in my memories of childhood and adolescence is his presence. My friendship with him remains although circumstantially altered. The same sentiments are also present through the passing of my friend Ramona, whose mam is photographed in this project.
Shortly after booking flights home for March of this year, I woke up to a number of missed calls. I have developed a pre-emptive recognition that such occurrences are likely distressing. Another one of my friends had passed away through suicide. I was able to make it home for the burial and the majority of the images in this project were produced during this time.
Such experiences of loss have provided me with a much deeper appreciation of those I hold dear. In Celtic thought there is a thin veil between the living and the deceased, death is seen as a passage to the eternal world rather than a destructive event. Wakes are followed by funerals which are followed by singing and storytelling. The transience state of life lends itself to the portraiture within this project. I have produced images of the individuals whom have shaped my experience of this life and continue to do so.
The people whom comprise this project are conduits for connection and experience. These tenets of life are irrevocable bound to their environment and the landscape. John Moriarty spoke of the hospitality of the Irish landscape. Stating that we are living, dreaming and thinking with the land, this intimacy is sacred. John O’Donohue wrote of the landscape's memory, the wild yet serene complexity mirroring the Celtic consciousness. We are the custodians of this land which ineffaceable carries these traditions through generations.
The final image in this series is of a lone tree in a foggy field titled ‘A tree. A country road. Evening’ evoking the setting of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The stoic approach to the circumstance of life throughout the play was a recurrent inspiration during the project.
- Anam Cara