The puppeteer of Notre Dame

Irma and Pascal photographed in Paris, November 2017.

Irma and Pascal photographed in Paris, November 2017.

Pascal and Irma Delamaire were friends of my mothers for many years, although I only met them for the first time shortly after I moved to Paris in 2017. Pascal and I quickly discovered that we’d much in common, including that earlier in life we’d both been puppeteers. My fledgling puppetry career was over before I left my teens, but he’d gone on to perform for many years, ending up on the best pitch in Paris – performing classical puppetry from inside a booth directly opposite Notre Dame.  When he looked up during the show, all he could see beyond the puppets in his hands was the two bell towers of Notre Dame, and it gave him a great sense of connection with all the other puppeteers who’d performed in the same spot, with the exact same view, for hundreds and hundreds of years. I love that.

For Oliver

Oliver Stanley was a beautiful man, and a really great friend to me. He died, aged forty-one, on this day in 1995. Remembered with warmth, much love, and this dedication.

He’d be pretty tickled to know I was posting a picture of his arse to the entire world, all these years later. There’s a portrait of him in this gallery.

What have you got to say for yourself?

Portraits of Margaretta D'Arcy and John Arden for a piece on married couples in The Telegraph Magazine. They refused on principle to appear in the same picture as they weren't actually living together. Margaretta filmed me as I photographed her, and when we were finished took me up to the attic where there was a tangle of wires hanging from a bare bulb in the ceiling. She flicked a switch, thrust a microphone into my face and said "You are now broadcasting live on the world's only Irish language, feminist pirate radio station - what have you got to say for yourself?" Not a lot, as it turned out.

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Trans / Punk

I shot some portraits recently of Irish transgender people for Michele-Ann Kelly’s Transition, Family and Me project. When Sarah R Phillips and I started talking about music it turned out we’d both been to many of the seminal punk gigs in Dublin. I asked if she’d seen the legendary Slaughter & The Dogs play in Belfield, and she told me not only was she there, she still goes to see them every chance she gets. Respect.

A History-Making Nerd

Liz Carolan is a self-confessed data and transparency nerd. In 2018, she set up a project to bring transparency to online advertising in Ireland’s referendum on the 8th amendment which banned abortion. That project led to a change in policy by Facebook and Google, and prompted commitments by the Irish Government to reform electoral regulations. Reading about her work makes it even more obvious that treating social media, particularly Facebook, with an ever-increasing degree of scepticism can only be a good thing. See also: T-Bone Burnett’s incendiary keynote from SXSW.

I photographed Liz last week in the new Fumbally Exchange, Dublin 8.

A different kind of portrait

Sometimes something very different comes along, such as the couple of times I’ve been asked by friends with cancer to help make a record of their experience. One such friend asked me recently to photograph her lumpectomy scars, and we were both very happy with how the pictures turned out. I’m also very glad to say that she’s doing well now, after a gruelling round of treatment. To be asked to do something like this feels like a real honour.

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