There’s something about Kim’s photos that always puts a smile on our faces. Perhaps it’s the honesty of how she portrays her subjects. Perhaps it’s the warm nostalgia that runs through the stories that she’s trying to tell. Either way, they evoke a comfortable feeling that reminds us of home.
Stighlorgan’s first season, Autumn Eleven, is about ‘leaving home’ and there is no better person to discuss this feeling than Kim. In a 3 part conversation we talk to Kim about her background, her home and ‘Holy Joe’s’ – an Irish social centre run by the Catholic Church in North London, which Kim spent five years documenting:
HOME [ Conversation with Kim Cunningham : Part 1
S: You went back to Ireland recently after your trip to Poland, how was it?
K: I always enjoy a trip home to relax but I never switch off from the mindset of continuing my projects.
S: Where do you see as ‘home’? North London where you live? Or Laytown, where you are from?
K: I see both places as my home now.
S: A lot of your subject matter is about small village life, or more interestingly, small village life which exist outside of its original environment. What is it about this relationship between the people and their community that attracts you?
K: I think that growing up in a particular community or environment helps to shape our identity and we all feel the need to belong or connect. Quite often we find ourselves in a place that is not entirely based on choice, but essentially we have to become accustomed to. I am interested in how we fit into the society that we find ourselves part of. Through my photographs I want to depict the overlooked, everyday moments and situations and also the atmosphere and emotion, that has been my experience.
S: From your work, one gets the feeling that you have managed to become more intimate with an environment that you used to be closer to by moving further away. Do you agree? If so, could you talk about this?
K: When I first started my project I was actually still part of the community, and I have continued photographing there ever since. My intimacy hasn’t changed much in that sense as I have always had mixed emotions about the place that I grew up. Although it is very much a part of me, there is also a feeling of dettachment.
S: With your images, are you trying to show what the subject matter looks like or what the subject matter feels like?
K: My portraits feature people in their environments, and naturally there is an emphasis on their surroundings. However, it is just as important for me to convey the atmosphere and a sense of emotion in my images.
Conversation continues tomorrow…
See more of Kim’s work on www.kimcunningham.co.uk