Gregory Dunn's amazing photos of everyday, overlooked Dublin.
15th Jaunary 2016
Last December, filmmaker Gregory Dunn took to the stage for Pecha Kucha at the Sugar Club to talk about his photography. I had neither seen nor heard of his blog ‘Stoneybutter' but I was immediately taken by his photos of Dublin.
His speciality is picking out the little details that 9 out of 10 people would walk by, capturing them on his pocket camera and publishing them with smart and witty observations added.
The pictures are a rare view of the little details that make up Dublin City. The unplanned, unglamourous stuff that makes you smile when it's pointed out to you.
We asked Gregory if he would appear on The Locals and talk us through 30 of his favourite Dublin photographs.
All my pictures are taken with a point-and-shoot camera
I was born in London in 1960 but grew up in Deal on the Kent coast, a town of smugglers, boatmen, coal miners, Royal Marines and retirement homes. I couldn't get away quick enough.
These days Deal, some 25 miles from the French coast and just over an hour from London on the high-speed train is a hugely desirable place to live, full of hipsters and beardy well-dressed gay men. I could comfortably draw comparisons with my neighbourhood of Stoneybatter.
When I bought my first two-up two-down terraced house there in 1990 people of all ages seemed to turn their nose up at our choice of neighbourhood. Now the former Viking settlement is all fabulous, desirable and unaffordable.
As a photographer I inhabit a no-man's land between a DSLR camera and a smartphone - I don't possess either - all my pictures are taken with a point-and-shoot camera. I find them much less obtrusive than the former and am taken slightly more seriously than if I was using a telephone.
Still from Gregory's new film 'Toasted'
I'm drawn to the grimmer, grittier aspects of Dublin
I'm visually drawn to the grimmer, grittier aspects of Dublin - I don't know why this is, possibly because it's the complete antithesis of where I grew up.
My main raison d'etre, both in my photography and filmmaking is to document - once something's gone it has gone forever. I'm also interested in the the unconsidered, I spent a couple of years scouring, literally every nook and cranny of greater Dublin in order to document what I term 'Physical Graffiti' - the real outsider art, made without an agenda not meant to be seen by the wider public.
My most recent film, Toasted, was shown last November at the Cork Film Festival and will be screened on St. Patrick's Day at the Dingle International Film Festival. It's about Swedish artist Lars Nyberg and an electric toaster festival he puts on every Good Friday in the middle of the forrest in rural Sweden. I'd love to screen it in Dublin at some stage.
1: All Hallows' Eve
Following a stand-off between the locals and the Bridewell Police Station, An Garda Síochána unsuccssefully attempt to prevent a Halloween bonfire at Dublin's O'Devaney Gardens.
I've always been intrigued by the Boiler House that sits on the east side of the Ballymun Road on the edge of Dublin. I previously hadn't any idea what the building's purpose was. When completed, sometime in the mid-1960's, it provided heating for Ballymun's 36 flat complexes as well as 450 houses.
Its design always reminded me of a low-rent mini Pompidou Centre or even a muted utilitarian version of something distantly related to the Memphis School. I'd love to know more of the Boiler Houses' design origins, it's kind of groovy. Whilst photographing its exterior I was invited inside by a kind Dublin City Council worker. The interior is like something from Mondrian, Reitveld or Eames - a riot of primary colours.
The Boiler House will be the only structural survivor of the whole 60's Ballymun disaster/master-plan that is slowly being raised to the ground. It's due to receive a €3:6 million facelift and become an eco-centre.
3: Back to the future
Spanning the Royal Canal just before it intersects with the Liffey, this lovely LUAS bridge by London practice Future Systems looked more as if it were situated in Delhi than Dublin - It has all been landscaped and cleaned up now and doesn't appear nearly as exotic as it did.
Whilst sitting in my Toyota Starlet outside the wonderfully pre-historic Murphys grocery store in Palmerstown, this odd visual scenario fell into place. Sadly, the store is no longer with us but this short film I made, a basic document, still exists here.
5: Dead or Alive
Having lost three musical greats, Mick Lynch (Stump), Lemmy and David Bowie all within three weeks of each other I thought I'd pay tribute to them via those odd anachronistic retail experiences that remain strangely hidden from view - this one was at Whitefriar Street Church shop.
6: Six Feet
There is something almost biblical about this image - like a mule carrying a heavily pregnant Mary to Bethlehem or Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I asked the rider what the name of his equine companion was; "Cunty" was his reply.
7. Flight Path
Anyone who's ever seen this image thinks I've manipulated it - Truth is, I wouldn't know how to, that's just how my little point-and-shoot camera recorded this relic of the latter part of the Celtic Tiger at Balgriffin.
8: Plastic Bag Bush (Plastic pera frutex)
Ever since the Irish Government's plastic bag levy was introduced in March 2002 the common Plastic Bag Bush (Plastic Pera Frutex) has been threatened with extinction. I found this rare survivor in full bloom on waste ground at Cabra West.
A lone squatter surveys the 4.2 acre site at Grangegorman that has been home to a group of like-minded dwellers for the past two years.
10. Sacred Heart
11. Rust Never Sleeps
Sometimes the combination of an overcast winter's day, extremely bad governance and spectacular neglect make for a beautifully muted colour palette.
Hardcore mid-week lunchtime Bingo addicts at Whitehall must, like afternoon Mass-attendees, be a dying breed.
13. Dublin Baywatch
It seems almost sacrilegious to say it, but I think Dublin's skyline would have been greatly improved if those chimneys had been demolished.
14. Jimi / Philo
I got talking to this sunburned, but affable bloke on the North Circular Road a few summers ago. Pointing to the icon hovering above his right nipple I said "I see you're a fan of Hendrix". He replied, "no, it's Thin Lizzy", I said, "no, I think that's Jimi Hendrix". The bloke then assured me that he'd requested the tattoo artist to embellish his chest with an image of "yer man from Thin Lizzy".
I decided at that stage that I'd said enough. Anyhow, they were both musicians, both black, both dead and both sporting afros - surely the fact that one hails from Crumlin and the other Seattle didn't in that instance, mean that much........
Someone once suggested that these recessed concrete balconies at sheltered accommodation in Kilbarrack reminded them of Second World War machine gun nests.
16. I'd like to teach the world to sing
Dublin must be one of the only capital cities in western Europe where owning a horse is almost a sign of poverty - an anti-status symbol.
This wonderful mural, possibly dating back to the 1970's, at the rear of Hill Street flats was recently power-hosed away for ever as part of Dublin City Council's renovation programme.
18. Hanging on the telephone
Our Lady of Mount Brown gets steamy in her perspex box.
19. The Iron Duke
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, PC,FRS.
Arbour Hill - for the year that's in it.
22. Benburb Street
I often find it pays to have a camera at the ready - the vaguely Scully-esque blocks of colour on the facades of these houses on Benburb Street were odd enough, then, stranger still, two random people, in bright sunlight with open umbrellas walked into the frame.
Looking like a Rachel Whiteread installation, this little-known chimney stack in red brick and grey render is quite simply one of my favourite pieces of vernacular design in Dublin. Father Christmas has his work cut out here!
24. Air Canada
Clontarf's somewhat tame suburban waterfront gets a dose of wildlife.
25. Death Row
This block, part of the Charlemount Street Flats complex, awaits its fate like so many other social housing units around the city. A White Lady lounges defiantly on the 2nd floor.
26. Mona Lisa
Immortalised in perspex, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa can be found at 176 Crumlin Road eating a murder burger - I love this.
27. Rubber Banditry
Urban crop circles mysteriously appear overnight at Stoneybatter.
28. Home Improvements
Scandi-chic comes to the Northside.
This lamppost is situated on Beresford Street not far from the fruit and veg market - I love the utterly spectacular miscalculation and resultant botch job. It's even had a fresh lick of paint.
30. The Locals
Meet the locals, my Stoneybatter neighbours at O'Devaney Gardens.