Last November as I came to the conclusion of the portfolio ‘The Summertime of my Autumn’ I began to plan on what the next project would be. I decided that this time I would return to work on something in Ireland. In January I broke my arm and this left me restricting on what I could do and so in early May I went away for a week with a friend of mine to beautiful rural West Cork. We stayed in an old school that has been converted as a holiday rental. During our stay the new owner had saved some old items that were part of the school. The school closed in 1975 because it numbers fell to five students and this was below the criteria required for the Irish Department of Education to support the running of the school. One of the items that the new owner kept was the school’s roll book. The book spanned the era from 1954 to 1975 when the school closed. On examining the book I began to wonder where all those pupils are now and so was born a new project. My project revolves around finding those pupils that are still alive and doing portraits of them. The other part of this is to record their memories of going to school there. Another element to this project is to include the writings of the ‘Schools’ Folklore Scheme’. The Schools’ Folklore Scheme was commissioned in 1937 by the Irish Department of Education where they got school pupils all around the county to write essays about their home place. These essays talk about incidents that happened in their locality and refer to local places where these happened. For this section I intend to make images of these areas and combine them with the essays.
In my research so far I have found most of the pupils, the majority are in Ireland with some in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand. As the project developed I realised that this was going to be a big undertaking and I can see the possibilities of doing an exhibition, book, radio and television documentary. With this in mind I have approached a television production company who are interested in developing the project as a one hour documentary. As we continue our research things are looking good and we are getting very positive feedback. Our next step is to secure funding from various sources and hope they see the potential in developing the project. You never know where research is going to take you and whatever you have in your mind you can end up in a different place altogether. I think the project will take about a year to do. Rural Ireland can have strange weather and you can experience four seasons in one day. I will try and blog as much on the project as thing develop.