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Dr Cian Quayle is exhibiting a series of images in the LOOK Photo Biennial 2019’s Satellite exhibition, taking place in Birkenhead this winter.

In a series titled Clochán, the Programme Leader for the University’s Photography degree captures clochán huts - a dry-stone hut with a corbelled roof, commonly associated with the south-western Irish seaboard.

The clocháns, also known booley or beehive huts, act as spatial-markers or sites, which define a way of life born out of necessity, and movement determined by the land and elements, rather than a border, which restricts or prevents movement or passage between one place and another. 

At one point, these centuries-old buildings provided shelter for livestock and pilgrims and while some of them today are left to ruin in remote areas, some are remarkably intact and others have been adapted and modified to serve as tourist destinations. The exhibition presents a series of black and white photographs of clocháns huts in isolation. The project also includes colour images made in transit between each location as these sites were found along the course of a journey, which traverses a contemporary Irish landscape in a state of flux.​

Dr Quayle explains: “The LOOK 19 Photo Biennial includes photographers who have responded to the themes of translate and transition.

“My work is concerned with shifting borders, thresholds and dwelling spaces, making reference to the concept of 'habitus'.

“This collection archives the construction of corbell-built clochán huts, which once provided shelter for farmers' livestock and pilgrims dating back to the Neolithic period.

“They’ve since been adapted and modified, as sites of tourist interest in some instances, or elsewhere left to ruin in more remote settings.

“The survival of these vernacular structures is testament to a kind of resilience inherent in this landscape and the people who have lived in and who have passed through it. The scale of the structures are proportionally concise in their construction, befitting a habitation of minimal means and function. 

In this they also embody a physiognomic presence as they watch over the landscape.”

The exhibition is part of a wider of body of work which Dr Quayle began in 2002, entitled Sites of the Habitus and the Filmic.

The photographs were made using a large format camera leading to a series of handmade, black and white prints, which he has printed in the darkroom for this exhibition.

Dr Quayle added: “As work in progress, the photographs retain the flaws, inconsistencies, material presence and trace of the landscape in which they were made.”

Taking place across Liverpool, Wirral, Preston and Shanghai, LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 is part of the Open Eye Gallery’s international exchange with China.

It aims to use photography to bring different cultures into conversation, reflect on shifting national identities, worldwide environmental issues and how we can communicate effectively.

The exhibition, at Dark Side Lab, Pacific Road, Woodside in Birkenhead, is open from 11am to 5pm from Thursdays to Saturdays until December 21. For more information contact

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