Over the Christmas, as a present to myself, I treated myself to Magnum Ireland, a beautiful compilation of photographs of Ireland, rural and urban, north and south, east and west, from the 1950s to the 2000s, as seen through the lenses of iconic Magnum photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Inge Morath, Erich Lessing, Eve Arnold, Martine Franck, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden, Donovan Wylie, Stuart Franklin, and others. The international scope of the book enriches the pages.
Legendary photographer, Eve Arnold (1912 – 2012) passed away on Wednesday last, January 4th. Arnold was one of the first female photojournalists to join the prestigious Magnum Photography Agency in the 1950s. Her diverse body of work included not only portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich but poignant images of the West of Ireland in the mid-seventies, as the country and the West was rapidly changing, old ways of life modernising, old traditions being lost.
Eve Arnold, The daughter of the house makes soda bread, Aran Islands, 1974. (Copyright Magnum Photos).
Some more of Eve Arnold's images of Ireland can be seen here, and other images of Ireland taken by Magnum photographers, can be seen here at Slate.
There is a hint of the romance of "traditional" Ireland contained here, yet it lacks a picture postcard sentimentality. It speaks of something real, something dwindling. The contented faces of the characters are what I enjoy the most. As an outsider, Arnold is capable of capturing something of the last frontiers of tradition in a modernising world.