Return and rediscovery

Going Out

MOMENT CAPTURED ‘Minstrel’s Lament’, by John McAleer, part of his ‘Return to a Changing Tide’ exhibition.

‘Return to a Changing Tide’, an exhibition of work by Westport photographer John McAleer, is currently on show at the Custom House Studios Gallery at Westport Quay.
McAleer has exhibited extensively across the country, while his first book ‘Fight Night’ was published in 2016. His latest exhibition is due to be released as a book later this year.
The artist explains that after his father died in 2015, he moved from Dublin City back to Westport, where he had not lived for almost 20 years. “This exhibition of work is a response to how I rediscovered the place I grew up in, the rural corners and liminal spaces of my childhood.
“I found a home that was the same but radically different, as was I. The landscape became an extension of my grief and also helped me find a place for me to live and thrive. The anachronistic rituals, the old ancient land that lay in the shadow of a holy mountain resonated with me and pulled me from my urban reverie and into the wild natural ways.”
McAleer recognises that his journey of return is one that many are experiencing during the pandemic, as work patterns shift and city-dwellers eye the freedom of country life, where the cost of living is also less.
“With the current shift happening now in Ireland of people moving back to the West due to various reasons, mostly financial, this show taps into the feelings of rediscovering the countryside you grew up in – but also how you could interpret the landscape if you moved here for the first time. The psycho-geography of how the land can reflect your state of mind. The old rituals and folklore of the lands and finding your place in it.”
He describes ‘Return to a Changing Tide’ as ‘an artistic mediation of how it feels to move from the sharp angled concrete of the city to the natural cycles of the countryside’.
“Westport for so long was a part of me but I was apart from it, fleeting visits over the years to family and friends. Now it is an intrinsic part of my life and identity, I have moved through and beyond, changed.”

‘Return to a Changing Tide’ opened in the Custom House Studios Gallery on July 1, and it will run until July 25.