The arts are good for us, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal in December 2019. Attending even one or two museum, gallery or theatre events during the year was found to correlate with a longer lifespan. The Journalism Society received an invitation to attend the opening of a photography exhibition by Pete Smyth during November 2019. Visiting galleries while in college could spark the habit of a lifetime, and as well as improving health, it gives the visitors something to talk about afterwards.
The exhibition at the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar was titled Local.
This reflects the fact that the photographer had documented his own area over thirty years. A representative for the area introduced the work and told us how Tallaght, a sprawling new town of council housing built on the west of Dublin, used to have almost no provision for shops or services — just housing. Vans used to go around delivering groceries, and some of the Vietnamese Boat People who settled here added to this, by industriously driving vans selling curries around the neighbourhoods. The Traveller people were on the outskirts as they camped out on a half-built road, waiting for housing to be provided. Many of the portraits we saw featured Traveller women and their struggle to raise children in muddy caravan sites.
As we strolled around the gallery’s various levels and rooms, we met friends including media lecturer Susan Sweeney; while former DBS media lecturer Dragana Jurisic complimented the body of work in RTE in November, calling it ‘powerful’. Aidan Dunne picked the work in the Irish Times as well. The opening was absolutely packed and the strong black and white images provided many talking points.
The modest artist Pete Smyth posed for a photo for me, but he was in demand to autograph copies of the book Local. The exhibition was free to view until 12th January and after that you can still Google the images, or visit the Gallery and check out the book while they prepare for the next exhibition.