HOLY JOE’S [ Conversation with Kim Cunningham : Part 3 ]
S: How did you find out about Holy Joe’s? ( Holy Joe’s is a 5 years project of which Kim documented the Irish community in North London).
K: I was living in Highgate at the time, and became aware of the Irish community centre. I was interested to see what it was about and who used it. As an Irish person coming to London I never felt like an immigrant, but I stepped into a different time and experience. I was immediately attracted to the place and the people but also intrigued at the same time.
S: Do you still go back?
K: Yes, I got to know a lot of people there and call in every time I pass by.
S: It has taken you 5 years to put this set of work together. Could you tell us a little about the process, or things you have witnessed during this process?
K: For me photographing tends to be a long affair. Although there is an emphasis on the resolution of image making, for me it’s more about the process. A bit of a never ending conclusion, reflective of the reality that inspires me.
S: There is a sense of warmth and an undertone of comfort through all of your images of Holy Joe’s… how do you think ‘being Irish’ is conveyed through your work in Holy Joe’s?
K: The people there made me feel so welcome and I was very much at ease taking the photographs. Their sense of ‘Irishness’ and mine were worlds apart, and I found it almost mythical. I chose to leave my country but most of them had no choice. National identity tends to be preserved as a result of emigration and this is what I wanted to convey in the images.
S: Do you feel that there is any difference in the irish identity possessed by the people of Laytown, compared to the people of St Joseph’s (Holy Joe’s)? If so, how so
K: The Irish identity in St.Joseph’s is as a result of emigration, so is nearly romanticised. In the Laytown series I’m not looking at national identity as such, but more on an individual level.
S: What does the Irish spirit mean to you?
K: I’ll let you know when I work it out!
See more of Kim’s work on www.kimcunningham.co.uk