John Darch Photography


Donegal Art Gallery, October 2004

Review from The Donegal Democrat

Donegal Landscapes, an exhibition by Killybegs photographer John Darch at the Donegal Art Gallery

Review by John Naughton


Photography is the art of seeing.  A good photographer looks at familiar sights – landscapes, streets, groups, individuals – and sees in them a beauty or a significance that the rest of us have overlooked.  A rowing boat covered with seagulls on a quiet morning.  An isolated church against the backdrop of an overpowering mountain. Telegraph wires marching in silhouette over a hill. And, having seen these things, he captures them, and thereby enables us to appreciate them too.

John Darch is such a photographer.  As an Englishman who has made his home in Donegal, he sees its land- and seascape through fresh eyes, and uses his camera to remind us of the beauty that we may sometimes take for granted.  The first exhibition of his work opened in the Donegal Art Gallery on October 15 and runs for a fortnight. It contains some striking and memorable images.

Some are, I suppose, relatively predictable -- Killybegs as seen in the early morning and on a winter’s afternoon, for example. Errigal seen from Cruit Island.  Loch Eske on a winter’s morning.  A rainbow over Rotten Island.  The mirror-like waters of Glenveagh. Some inquisitive sheep at Meenyhooghan staring at the camera with an air of tolerant bemusement. A group of gulls perched patiently on a boat, waiting for something – anything – to happen.

But John Darch’s most striking pictures are all about the distinctive lighting that one finds only in this part of the world.  It’s an effect created by the combination of clean air and sunlight filtered through clouds. There’s a memorable photograph of the Donegal Water Bus, for example, weaving its way across the Bay, its wake rippling and flashing in the sun. But for me the high point of the exhibition is a photograph of summer showers at Carrigan Head, in which the brooding silhouettes of the cliffs contrast with the silvery sea, and the sunlight sneaks through a curtain of rain-bearing clouds. It’s a sight that those who are fortunate enough to live here probably see all the time.  But it has taken a fresh eye and a crisp lens to capture it for the rest of us.

John Naughton is a columnist on the London Observer. John Darch’s pictures can be seen at the Donegal Art Gallery, Upper Main Street, Donegal Town, until October 28.

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