A photograph can in some cases insert itself as a memory. The saturation of photographs in my lifetime – particularly family photographs – sometimes blurred the line between the remembered moment (images) and photographs captured in proximity to its time and place. I know I’m not alone in this experience.
For a long time, I believed the image above to have been the site of a family tragedy – an accident involving my uncle. I knew that the moment had ruptured any hope of happiness on my father’s side of the family. His younger brother having passed away, brought on a great and permanent sadness that I could observe, but only later understood. It became a marking point in my family’s history. The possibility of life irrevocably marked from that point on.
Blackrock Baths, Dublin once were a social centre for my parent’s generation, being a popular summertime place to hang out. Although I can’t remember clearly having been there (they closed when I was eight), I seem to have faint memories of being there when they were still in use.
The image of the baths, which can be seen from inside the passing train to Dublin city, was etched in my mind as a icon of family tragedy. This was further reinforced when it was closed down and slowly began to deteriorate.
The image came to represent a certain dispair and grey that surrounded life in Dublin city. The motivation for me and many others leaving our home town for more hopeful shores.
I took the image above while on a brief stay in Dublin, after I had relocated to Sydney in the 90s. At the time, I still believed it was the site of my uncle’s accident.
Although this is not the case, the image remains a strong personal metaphor for me, seeming to capture the darkness of a family loss, and the emotional state of the place where I grew up.