Works:

Remembering the Celtic Peregrinati – Saint Patrick, Brendan and Columba

North – Looking towards Scotland. The North Channel, Benbane Head, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 2013. The North-west Point of Northern Ireland.

East most – Looking towards Scotland. The North Channel and The Irish Sea. Burr Point, The Ards Peninsula, County Down, Northern Ireland, 2013. The East-most point of all Ireland.

ColmCilleSpiral Thomas Joshua Cooper

Looking towards Ireland – St Patrick’s birthplace. The River Mite, Ravenglass, Cumbria (2013)

Evening – The Reputed Burial Place of the Irish Saints –Patrick, Brigid and Columba. The River Quoile, Downpatrick, County Down, Ireland (2013)

Evening – St Columba’s Birthplace. Gartan Lough, County Donegal, Ireland (2013)

Last light – Looking West – the Birthplace of St Brendan the Navigator, the Wanderer. The North Atlantic Ocean and Brendon Bay, Brandon Point, The Dingle Peninsula, County Derry, Ireland, (2002-13)

Last Light – High wind – A Crossing Point. The River Foyle – Lowther Peace Bridge, Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland (2013)

Over an eleven day period, Thomas Joshua Cooper, travelled to Skye, Raasay, Cumbria and Northern Ireland, covering a total of 3135 miles.

He worked on two photographic bodies of work. For one series, he went to the very edges of land, visiting the cardinal points of Northern Ireland including Benbane Head, County Antrim, the north-west point and then onto the east-most point at Burr Point on the Ards Peninsula.  In particular, with the latter location, he focused on the view from Ireland across the water to Scotland, aiming to echo St Columba’s last view from Ireland, before his exile to Scotland.

For the second series, he travelled to photograph the birthplaces of Saint Patrick, St Brendan and St Columba. The way he described Lough Gartan, St Columba’s birthplace as having, “Three silver birches, leaning towards the Lough, a trinity picture”, echoes the mention of trees in Sorley MacLean’s poem ‘Hallaig’. MacLean imagines the cleared village’s absent women as, “ … a wood of birch trees / Standing tall, with their heads bowed.”

Cooper also described the title of the residency and exhibition ‘Convocation’ as having meaning for him in terms of how he works with the land, as he only takes one negative at each site. “Can there be a convocation with the site? In enough silence, things will speak. If there is enough respect and the site is willing to participate, then that for me is a conversation.”

Professor Thomas Joshua Cooper is School of Fine Art’s Senior Researcher at The Glasgow School of Art.