Tina Claffey is “Ireland’s pre-eminent bog photographer”, whose latest work has been locked into a book entitled Tapestry of Light, which promises to alter the way you look at Ireland’s boglands forever.
Following a nine-year stint working in Africa, Tina admitted that her return to Ireland was challenging, as she relocated to her hometown of Birr, Co Offaly. Geologist, botanist and broadcaster Dr John Feehan helped Tina to settle back into her native country as the pair embarked on an eco-walk in 2012, which became the catalyst for Tapestry of Light.
“I was in pristine wilderness areas in Botswana, and when I came back I really felt lost. When I went out for a walk in the bog with John, I realised that it was right there all the time: that wilderness. It inspired me to get the camera out again, and I’ve been going to the boglands ever since,” explains Tina.
“What attracted me to it is how things have adapted to survive in that environment. I’m attracted to the edge of bog holes: we don’t know how deep they are, I love how the light goes through them and reflects off them. I just find it a very mysterious environment to be in. I love it.”
When one hears the word bog, quite often that dislike for working turf plagues our thoughts. Once upon a time, the cogs of Tina’s mind worked in a similar manner. “My memories of the bog are awful,” laughs Tina. “When I was small we used to go there, my dad had a small plot and we used to cut turf. My memory of the bog was pure dread.”
Times have surely changed for Tina, unlike most of us who continue to dismiss the beauty of the bog because while we are looking, we are not always seeing. “I never associated the bog with colour, ever,” admits Tina. “But it is full of colour through the seasons. And with all the mosses, there is a kaleidoscope of colour. They form all these mats, it’s like a living carpet that’s like a tapestry. It’s incredible.”
Tina did not produce the book for a specific audience, as she had everyone in mind during the production process. She hopes that Tapestry of Light will allow people to open their eyes to the alluring realm that lies just beyond their front door step.“My first show was called Seoda-Treasure Under Foot, and the bogland is like treasure under your feet. A lot of the photography in the book is micro-photography, and it shows these beautiful little things in minute detail. I would like people to be more aware of where they are in the bog, how beautiful it is and how it has adapted. I just want to reveal these little treasures.” CL
Tapestry of Light is €25 and is available to buy online at www.artisanhouse.ie or you can order through any book shop.