John Minihan, “Beckett’s photographer”, at WAS

Photographer, John Minihan at WAS

World-renowned photographer and social chronicler, John Minihan, the man whom, among other works, gave us the iconic pictures of Sam Beckett in Paris, was in WAS on 20th August presenting his show, “Beckett and the Wake.”

On Friday, 20th August 2010, we had a new sort of event (for us) in Outer Space at Working Artist Studios in Skibbereen when World-renowned photographer, John Minihan, presented his show, “Beckett and the Wake” to a full and enthralled house.

John is probably best-known for his iconic images of Sam Beckett in Paris (think of Beckett, imagine his wonderfully lined and lived-in face and it’s probably one of John’s pictures you’re thinking of!) But he has also, memorably, recorded everyday life in Athy, Co.Kildare, where he grew up, since the early ’60s and chronicled the changing times and a disappearing Ireland. He was particularly interested in wakes and has developed a presentation in which he links the Irish wake with Samuel Beckett and his interest in similar themes.

His many years as a Fleet St. newspaper photographer honed John’s already sharp eye for an image and many of his works have become part of modern culture, e.g. the Beckett shots, Francis Bacon images, that photo of the silhouetted legs of the young Lady Dina Spencer and many, many more.

The show consisted of a series of John’s images of both Beckett and the Athy shots, particularly at Katy Tyrrell’s wake. The images by themselves are wonderfully evocative but when John gives an ongoing stream-of-consciousness narration, inspired by what he – and we – are all seeing, the pictures become a unified artistic body of work, a moving testament to a vanishing Ireland and a disappearing state of mind, a one man show bravura performance piece.

His talk was thoughtful and thought-provoking, witty, entertaining, insightful, informative, hugely interesting and above all, combined with the powerful (mainly) black and white images, stark and large on the back wall of Outer Space, extremely moving. Thank you, John. Thanks also to Breeda Murphy and the West Cork Arts Centre for the loan of equipment to screen the show.

Afterwards, as usual, we had music, featuring the “house band” of Breeda Murphy, Tim Abbott and Paul Ó Colmáin and also several people stepped up to read from their writings at our open (non-)mic including Frances Atkin and Tim Daly.

Thanks to all who attended, supporting the venture, the venue and the Arts. It was particularly nice to see so many young people there. For pictures of the night click here.