Michael Fortune: Around the Faithful Homes – A lockdown project for Co. Offaly
For the past number of months Wexford artist/folklorist Michael Fortune has been collecting photographs remotely from people of Co. Offaly as part of the project entitled Around the Faithful Homes. In January, Michael put out a call via social and local media for people to simply take photographs of objects in their homes, sheds, gardens and yards that have a particular personal association to them, their family or their neighbours and the response he got was incredible.
Images appeared from every corner of Offaly ranging from old posters, old tractors, old toys, farm implements, hurls, shop letterheads, postcards, Christian shawls, brick makers, stained glass windows, school books – you name it, he got it. However, not only did he get the images – he also got the stories about them directly from the people.
In the weeks that followed he met a core group of people who submitted these images and they in turn continued more remote collecting, bringing more and more to the table. Close to 200 objects were photographed and documented in the county however, Michael and the group have selected the best 100.
What made this project special was the geographical spread and the social engagement and meeting up, albeit virtually with the group. Michael claims that “he never expected such objects and stories to appear” and he says “In normal circumstances he wouldn’t have got such a reply and in a strange way, the lockdown and peoples need to reach out and connect has made the collecting process the success that it is.”
Another special aspect of the project was that it was open to anyone aged between 18 to 118, if you owned a smartphone you could get involved. The use of smart phones, rather that professional studio cameras was a huge plus and people worked with the best they had.
These 100 images/objects are now being archived and will be officially unveiled on Sun 21 March at 8pm at a Talk Event on Zoom. The Zoom event will feature Michael and a selection of the participants speaking about some of the objects. If you have an interest in folk objects, history, oral culture – this event is for you.
The event is FREE please email Michael firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom details. The 100 Objects from Offaly will be available to view online on the Around the Faithful Homes Facebook Page following the launch on the 21.
This project is being supported by Creative Ireland, Offaly County Council Arts Office and Galway 2020