Roisin Taylor, a creative spirit whose aptitude for catching moments of beauty through a camera lens, is almost as dominant as her profound connection to the earth around her. For the past six-months, the 26-year-old has been crafting a truly breath-taking series of still images, captured on the majestic shores of the world-famous Aran Islands.
Taken during a succession of visits to Inis Meáin, Inis Mór, and Inis Thiar, the collection aptly entitled, ‘Within Plain Sight’, visually communicates the raw, untamed, and otherworldly splendour of the Islands, just off the Western coast – one of the most scenic stop-off points on the Wild Atlantic Way.
This coming Saturday (1st August), the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna will play host to this debut display of meditative art. I caught up with the London-born photographer to discuss the daunting nature of debut exhibitions, the unwavering mystery of creative practices, and her reflective relationship with Mother Earth.
Born in London, where her parents met after leaving Ireland to find work, Taylor remembers her time fondly before making the move back to the wild west of Eire: “I don’t have very many memories of our time in London, but those I do remember, I remember them fondly and with a smile. My parents decided to move back home to Ireland to raise my Brother and I near extended family in the small town of Boyle, Co. Roscommon, rather than raising us in the city of London. I often wonder how drastically different our lives would have been had we stayed in London…but that’s irrelevant! I’m glad of their decision.”
During her childhood in Boyle – a place famous for alien sightings and Chris O’ Dowd – she explains how the family home was always packed to the rafters with old photographs: “We have boxes upon boxes of photos at home, I used to love just sitting on my own and going through them all…especially on Sundays for some reason! Sundays seemed to last a lot longer than they do now…My brother would know his way around a camera blindfolded by now.
The “traditional” creative gene doesn’t seem to run in the Taylor clan. Through the years, Roisin, who says she was “always away with the faeries”, had dabbled in music, but felt like it never really “stuck”. The dream of being a photographer was ignited when her Father, Albert, commented on her keen eye during a family holiday. He subsequently bought that first, all-important camera, and so began her passion and creative drive.
When it comes to still images, some may argue that only a fraction of a larger narrative is being told, to which Taylor disagrees: “A photo is worth a thousand words. For me that’s very true. A still photo allows the viewer to make up their own mind and create their own story or background of the image, without it having to be explained further.
She continues: “For some, still photography is just one side of the story. For me an image can tell you a full story over time, if you have the patience to keep looking at it!”
Patience, surely, is a corner stone of a great ‘snapper’ – the patience to wait, to watch, to find the right time and collect a digital moment. For as many creatives as there are, there is also just as many varied creative processes and practices; for Taylor it isn’t merely a matter of point and click.
“When I was gifted my first Cannon DSLR by my father (thank you!) that camera came everywhere with me…literally! I would just point and snap all day, then spend the next day just sifting through them all. I didn’t truly appreciate what I was snapping up… I started getting inspiration from simple objects that would usually go unnoticed – hence the title of the exhibition ‘Within Plain Sight’ – and out came the camera again with a new passion and drive. Now I take my time when I go out with my camera and really look at my surroundings, taking them in and truly seeing them for what they are – hidden treasures! Rusted old pieces of metal half sunk into the earth over time of abandonment, twisted and contorted, rotting and flaking, but still standing strong against the elements. That’s my passion.”
For all artists, your first will always stick with you. I’ll digress and say, on a personal note, writing my first piece for publication was, arguably, the most terrifying experience ever. The thought of pouring your creative spirit into a project is daunting at best. She says: I’ve had my inner battles with ego regarding the exhibition, of course I’m hoping it goes well and people like what I have to show them and their comments are all good, but even if nothing sells I would like to think that I will still be proud of the fact that I took this chance.”
What overshadows the daunting nature of exhibiting work is the overarching process, which in itself, is an amazing journey of self-exploration and a mammoth mountain of diligent work, late nights, and vats of coffee.
“I allowed myself [6 months] not only to reserve a venue for the high season in County Clare, but also because I knew I still needed to go back to the islands at least three more times before I could even think about choosing images for the show. Getting to the islands was the easy part. Getting there on the right day, with the right weather conditions and cloud cover and having that day land on my days off from work, proved trickier than I had thought, but I got there in the end… Thanks to my very good friend, Collette Quirke, who gave me the kick up the arse I needed, I was able to make the decisions necessary in order to have the best images for the show. Without her help I’d say I would be still be going through the images trying to make the all-important cut!”
Prior to her dive in to the world of creation, Roisin trained as a Horticulturalist. Getting those hands into the earth, planting, sowing and reaping its sustainable rewards is her other great passion. She explains how photographing nature is a natural extension of her love for the rugged land: “Nature and the great outdoors will always be something I feel very strongly about…after all, we come from it! Horticulture was something I did for myself, so that I could grow my own and be somewhat self-sustainable, even slightly! My style of photography is predominately of nature, simply because I feel I can connect and understand her more than with some people.”
She continues: “The actual islands themselves are like my safe havens of serenity and beauty; my place of soul searching, located just on the edge of the world. They appear to me as perfectly illuminated, no matter what the weather; they ooze magnificence and wrap you in a protective layer of peace and welcome. The houses there have that beautiful old paint that’s starting to fade, chip and flake, but is still striking to the eye. When I visit the islands they always seem to surprise me with a new place tucked away off the beaten track, new treasures awaiting me every time! It’s where my inspiration lies right now. What’s not to love about that?”
When she’s not growing her own produce, or loaded down with cameras, Roisin loves nothing more than hanging out with her very supportive, musician boyfriend, Jonathon Fitzgerald.
“I have two dogs and an unbelievably patient partner in crime, Jonathan Fitzgerald. So on my days off, if I’m not up to my eyes in exhibition plans, we would usually go on hikes around the Burren, or go explore some new place in Clare, or sometimes it’s nice to just chill out, visit friends and take it easy. We’re both outdoorsy so when it’s good out we will more than likely be out and about. Jon recently got me mad about rock climbing. Last summer we must have been out nearly every second week. I’m still a beginner, but I love it! Unfortunately, this season climbing has been put on hold. Not to be a stereotypical Irish person going on about the weather, but seriously? Have you seen our summer?”
So, as this is Nitelife, we were keen to learn all about her musical tastes. Having a musically talented partner (in crime) must open up a whole world of melody, right?
“I used to only listen to rock and some metal… Now I like more mellow music, Alela Diane has a stunning voice I’ve listened to her a lot lately, I still have a soft spot for Tool, even if it is taken them forever to release their new album! There are two girls originally from Ennistymon who have the most beautiful harmonies I think I’ve ever heard, they are called Twin Headed Wolf. They are up there on my favourites list. But because my partner is a musician, he introduces me to all kinds of new and old music from all over the world and I love it.”
One of Roisin’s favorites!
Well there you have it – a woman who has as many layers as the islands themselves. Rosin Taylor is a true pioneer of natural art. Her creative soul is just as beautiful as her images, and I for one cannot wait to check out ‘Within Plain Sight’ next Saturday evening. Of course, Nitelife will be there to bring you all of the action from the highly anticipated exhibition.
The ‘Within Plain Sight’ expo opens at The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, from the 1st -22nd of August. Roisin would like to thank everyone who has lended their much-welcome hands over the last 6-months.The Nitelife team would like to wish her the very best of luck with this and future exhibitions – not that she needs it!