If you’ll be in or near London on St. Patrick’s Day, you are invited to the opening of Kim Cunningham’s ‘London Irish’ exhibition on 17.03.15. This exhibition is a series of beautiful, contemporary photographic portraits of the Irish in London. This opening be an informal, community event as part of the London Irish Centre’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations.
Once again Ireland faces losing large numbers of its population to emigration,
in particular the younger generations. Our close proximity to the UK has meant
that London has been the destination of choice for many over the years. Our
presence hasn’t always been welcomed however, and once again immigration
is a hot topic in the UK. This time round, we seem to have avoided a lot of the backlash.
So who are the new faces of the Irish diaspora, and do we even feel like immigrants
anymore? How do we compare to previous generations, the notion of what it is to
be Irish and indeed the stereotype that sometimes goes before us?
It seems this new generation (although still leaving Ireland through necessity)
are embracing their circumstances and turning it into a positive, empowering
experience. This series of portraits takes a look at those who have left the homeland
to experience, connect and contribute to the melting pot that is London.
There is also a forgotten and unidentified face to the Irish diaspora; the second
generation Irish. Those who feel as patriotic and connected, but their accents and
geographic location dispute their authenticity. I want to challenge also the exclusivity
of being Irish, and include those who have chosen to embrace their Irish roots and
sense of identity.
The London Irish Centre, in Camden, has helped and supported the Irish community
since opening it’s doors sixty years ago. To celebrate their anniversary this year,
I have been commissioned to photograph the latest influx of Irish to the capital city.
An exhibition of my work will open on Saint. Patrick’s night in the centre, March 17th 2015,
and will continue over the coming months.
(Kim Cunningham, Feb 2015)