Services » Corporate and External Affairs

Impressions of Irish History

Impressions of Irish History exhibition group 

Stella Cherry, Curator, Cork Public Museum, the Lady Mayoress, the Lord Mayor, Maria Bradshaw and Dr. John Bradshaw photographed at the Impressions of Irish History Exhibition at Cork Public Museum.

The exhibition ‘Impressions of Irish History’ can be seen in Cork Public Museum from Wednesday 13th November 2007 to February 9th 2008.  It is the result of a two year photographic project by Dr. John Bradshaw.  The object of this work was to create 64 new monochrome images covering ten thousand years of Irish History.  Printed to Fine Art standards using traditional darkroom methods, the images cover a wide range of places, people and objects, from the Ice Age to the present day.  Some of the photographs have been printed using special techniques such as hand colouring, chemical toning or Bromoil to reinforce the sense of history.  Each image will be accompanied by a relevant quotation from Irish Writing which will further enhance the context.

Impressions of Irish History exhibition

Dr. John Bradshaw showing the Lord Mayor the exhibition. 

Impressions of Irish History

Conventional approaches to History often include old photographs as historical documents in their own right.  Furthermore, most history books contain images from stock libraries or of items photographed in conventional ways of the museums own collections.  This new approach will provide an alternative insight by virtue of the entirely original nature of these images (often of places or objects not widely known about) and the personal vision they represent.  This collection should be of wide interest to the general public and to visitors to Ireland.

Impressions of Irish History2

John Bradshaw was born in West Cork in 1944.  He holds  Medical qualifications from the University of Dublin.  Currently living in England he has worked in Ireland in the 1960’s and intermittently since 2004.  A serious amateur photographer all his life, his work has won several competitions and has featured in the Royal Photographic Society’s International Exhibition.  His unique work on the Grand Tour of the German poet Goethe was published in 2004.  This formed the basis on which he was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2005.  He works exclusively in monochrome using traditional darkroom techniques.

 Impressions of Irish History 3

Some of the photographs have been taken using Infra-Red film. This is not like a night-vision camera, but imparts a subtle ethereal glow and sense of mystery to the resultant images.

During printing some of these Monochrome images have been chemically toned. This produces a subtle colour change as can be seen with Gold Chloride (blue tone) or Selenium (purple tone). More conspicuous tones can be achieved with Sepia, where the colour ranges from yellow, through brown, to reddish purple.

Parts of some images have been selectively coloured by hand. This requires a special photo paper without a shiny surface. This allows the colours, known as Marshall Oils, to sink deep into the image which may also have previously been toned with an overall colour such as sepia. The result is quite different to conventional colour printing.

Other prints have been produced using the Bromoil process. In this technique a conventional black and white print is produced which is then bleached to remove the visible image and tanned to harden the remaining gelatin emulsion. This layer, when damp, will now accept printers ink applied by brush or roller, when the image reappears in a rather different and evocative form.

None of the images are colour prints. Those that show colours have either been toned or coloured by hand. All images have been produced in a darkroom. Digital /Computer techniques have not been used.

Impressions of Irish History 4

Back to list