‘Beneath / Beofhód’ is an ongoing photographic series examining the degraded raised bogs of the Irish midlands, and the communities connected to them.
Peat harvesting and turf cutting are woven deep into the cultural fabric of the region however, these activities have also led to significant depletion. In recent years, legitimate environmental concerns have resulted in pressure to preserve the remaining bogs, heralding significant change for affected communities. Although the benefits of preservation are well documented, the human cost is not.
This project contemplates a local and human perspective, often lost in a polarised climate change debate. It documents the decline of Irelands working relationship with bogs while contemplating what our modern landscapes say about us.
Bogs are not only a source of latent energy but an archive of history and place. Below the surface, within their subterranean layers, they hold remarkable preservative qualities. The resurfacing of exceptionally well-preserved Iron Age bog bodies highlights the historical reverence for bogs, and their archival qualities. Beofhód; an Irish word translating as ‘life beneath the sod’, allows our modern excavations on bogs, to be re-imagined as a metaphorical archaeology of knowledge and legacy, unearthing the histories and memories held within bogs and people.
About the artist:
Shane Hynan is a landscape and social documentary photographer. His photographic work is project based with a research and anthropological approach focusing on rural Ireland’s dwindling connection with the land and the old ways. The work engages social and environmental issues, on a local and regional level, with a realist documentary approach to subject matter. The interrogation of land, people and place is used as a vehicle for metaphorical exploration of personal and existential issues, which underpins his visual enquiry and acts as a significant subtext throughout his work.
In 2018 he took up photography full time, moving away from a career in Structural Engineering. He studied at Belfast School of Art (Ulster University) for 2 years and completed an MFA in photography in 2019. In 2020 he won the Emerging Visual Artist Solo Exhibition Bursary Award, and the Gill Berry Visual Artist Bursary Award, through the Kildare Arts Service. He has also received Arts Council funding to continue developing his practice around bogs, rural Ireland and the built environment. His work has been shown at a number of group exhibitions, including the RHA annual exhibition in 2020.
Beneath / Beofhód exhibition is supported by Kildare County Council and Riverbank Arts Centre’s ‘Emerging Visual Artist Bursary Award’, which Shane Hynan was awarded in 2020.