By Don Mullan
From 23rd September to 29th October 2010
It was my children who taught me how to use the camera on my old Nokia 6230 mobile phone and it was a wonderful young woman from Nokia (Ireland), Aoife Byrne, whom the company appointed to work with me for two years during 2007 and 2008 on the idea of this exhibition.
The years 2004-2006 will long be remembered by me as a time of great darkness. Mentally and emotionally I reached the edge of a precipice which threatened to consume me as I suffered from a debilitating depression. Two thieves were robbing me of my vitality for life – bitterness and worry. The first was about focusing on regrets and hurts from the recent past, the other about all kinds of insecurity for the future. The present moment – the only moment worth living for – was being squeezed to death, literally.
During what I now call my Nokia years, the cameras on my Nokia N73 and N95 taught me to be alert to the beauty of the world that exists in the present moment. From a condition of quiet despair, my mobile telephones brought me back into the light. Now, several times a day I find myself taking sharp intakes of breath as I marvel at how light and colour can conspire to turn the mundane into magic.
One of my favourite pictures is a rose I photographed one morning in a neighbour’s garden while walking. The early sun rays appeared to be absorbed, enabling the rose to glow from within. I love that rose for it is so symbolic of my journey to recovery and is why I have chosen it to open this exhibition.
Another favourite photograph is the teardrop I noticed early one morning in the Messines Ridge Cemetery in Flanders. It somehow captured my mood in the midst of the resting place of so many young men, ‘Known unto God’, from whom life had been senselessly stolen during World War I. In reality it was a leaf – bent by the weight of a dewdrop – enveloped by an early morning mist that seemed so symbolic and appropriate. Tears were the silent words that expressed the depth of pain and sadness I was feeling in that instant. I recalled the words of the American playwright Tennessee Williams: “Death is one moment, and life is so many of them.” I owed it to these young men to rediscover A Thousand Reasons for Living – and to rededicate my life to redeeming the wastage their six feet of manicured earth symbolised.
This exhibition records over 50 moments along a two year journey. It also introduces the viewer to aspects of several projects and causes I am engaged in. These include:
- The Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project
- The Little Prince Hospital and ‘The Year of Pele’
- The Gordon Banks Monument Project
- Millvina Dean -The Youngest and the Last – Titanic’s last memoir
- The Old Shoe Museum, Mullan Village, Co. Monaghan
Sales of the limited edition prints in this Exhibition will support the Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project which I am currently developing. However, the following prints will support the following good causes:
- Pride and Dignity – to provide scholarships in South Africa for the Lakey twin girls who have the ambition of becoming doctors.
- The Youngest and the Last – to help Millvina Dean, the last living survivor of the Titanic, pay her nursing home bills in Southampton.
- Irish Drop in African Ocean and The Actress – the Niall Mellon Township Trust.
- The Little Princess, Nicky Byrne and ‘Sorry Pele!’ – The Pelé Little Prince Hospital, Curitiba, Brazil
- Touching Gold and Beach Angel – Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin
- The Holy Trinity – Tutu/Bank/Pelé, My Brother’s Footprints and African Beauty – the work of Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- the work of Trocaire
It is important to remember when viewing this exhibition that the photographs were taken by an untrained and amateur photographer on two mobile telephones: the Nokia N73 (3.2 megapixel) and the Nokia N95 (5 megapixel), both equipped with Carl Zeiss Optics. Both mobile phones are now part of the exhibition and, as can be gleaned from their well worn condition, they were, over two years, my work horses. The phones, therefore, were not used by me for the exclusive use of taking photographs. That would have been cheating. I wished to test the versatility and dexterity of my Nokia mobile phones as I went about my busy schedule. The phones, therefore, were carried by me across the world, in every conceivable climate and were used: to send and receive texts; make and receive telephone calls; to wake me up in the morning; as a diary, calendar, notebook and Internet Explorer; to send and receive emails; as well as a camera and photo gallery.