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HomePlaces: Family albums

Posts related to photographs and family albums, as part of the HomePlaces project in conjunction with PhotoWings.org

Homeplaces project for Transition Year students, by Lara Roche

the mill
The mill in County Cork – Christine O’Flynn

Over the past six months,   the Homeplaces project, a collaboration between PhotoWings, a not-for-profit organisation based in San Francisco and  the  Intergenerational Learning Programme in Dublin City University, has been piloted for Transition Year students in 2 Dublin secondary schools.

The goal has been to connect generations through sharing photographs and stories. Dr Cathy Fowley, with the help of Lara Roche, 2nd year Multimedia student in the School of Communication, is currently finalising a digital toolkit to connect 4th year transition year students with their grandparents’  generation. Our aim is that students all over Ireland can utilise the toolkit to bring the generations closer together.

Last Tuesday,  we were treated to a viewing of the first pilot with local participating transition year students from St. Aidan’s Community College and the Dominican College , accompanied by  two of their teachers.  Christine, Carmel, Joan and Mary, are all ILP participants, who had been interviewed by the young students.  They joined us to see how the project was progressing.

 

Homeplaces participants

Cathy gave everybody a warm welcome and introduced us all to the project.

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Dr. Trudy Corrigan gave us an insight into the work of Intergenerational Learning Programme and the project, and the students then  introduced their projects and talked about how much they enjoyed the process. Although they had technical issues shooting, saving, editing and uploading their projects, the stories they heard and shared far outweighed these initial teething problems.

Christine’s photographs and stories about the mill where she used to live is one example of the young students’ work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HomePlaces workshop in Brno University

 

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On November 19th, as part of a symposium on Intergenerational Learning in Brno, Czech Republic,  Dr. Cathy Fowley gave a workshop on the HomePlaces photography project (funded by PhotoWings).  Veronika is a PhD student in Brno University, and she shares her experience here

I had  an opportunity to participate on a workshop on the Homeplaces project led by Cathy Fowley within the symposium about intergenerational learning that took place in Brno, Czech republic. It was the first time I heard about the Intergenerational Learning Programme that is organised in Dublin City University. The main aim of its HomePlaces project is to create an environment for intergenerational dialogue by using family photos. I have never experienced such a method so I was curious about it. While listening to the presentation about the project I still could not really imagine how it works. But when I saw the video where participants of this progremme were filmed while discussing the pictures, I understood how interesting and inspiring it can be for both generations. Sharing your family pictures with other people makes you naturally to open up. People somehow share things that they would probably not share during “normal” dialogue. You show a picture and suddenly you feel like explain what happen there. You start briefly but then you realise that you need to add other and other details about yourself, about the place where the photo was taken, about the other people at the picture, about the atmosphere, about the experience…during the workshop I could see how people were presenting their own pictures. They usually started uncertainly and after few words they suddenly started to smile and naturally talk about the photos, and share their experiences, thoughts and emotions.


This workshop was special for me because as I just started my PhD studies I still don’t know my collegues very well. And during this one hour workshop I suddenly get to know them much better than in those 3 month I was meeting them at school. Suddenly it seemed to me that we are closer to each other. Maybe it was because we shared sometning that other collegues probably doesn’t know (because you normaly don’t share these things whille meeting at the corridor) or just because we had a chance to relaxt together and laugh together. Which only proves what I said before – this method that works with family pictures can make people to open up although they sometimes don’t even notice.

Veronika Žďárková
Masaryk university
Brno, Czech republic

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Photographs on a Friday afternoon, by Christine O’Flynn

Suzie and ILP participants on a photography outing

I was quite apprehensive last Friday afternoon.   Four from our Digital Photography class were going to meet the famous Suzie Katz of PhotoWings fame.   I couldn’t imagine what I, amateur snapper, possessor of a little compact Canon camera, would have to say to a world-renowned photographer.  Worse, what would she think of my impertinence in coming along at all?  We all felt a bit daunted as we waited for her at the gates of Trinity College.

Suzie arrived, with a big welcoming smile.   She began to admire the light over Trinity and drew our attention to the way the clouds were breaking up to reveal a blue sky, mottled with small white fluffy clouds.   The blue was the same colour as the clock in the apex of the building.   The effect was spectacular but, I am ashamed to say, would probably have gone unnoticed by those of who are more used to looking down at the ground than up towards the stars.

Light is Suzie’s especial interest and she was quick to see a spectacular effect of pure white light seeming to rise up into the sky over the buildings at the end of Grafton Street.   One roof there, green and turret-like, has what looks like a cross on top.  The combination of the religious-looking turret with this lovely light, seeming to go up into the heavens, is the kind of effect that appeals to Suzie and is the type of thing she looks for when taking a picture.    This is what changes the mundane snap into a work of art.

Inside the gates, the scene was very colourful.  There had been a graduation and happy graduates in red and yellow gowns dotted the grounds.   Suzie was more interested in pointing out the beautiful reflections to be seen in the small panes of glass in the windows.  Some of them had the original old glass, thick and distorted which changed the reflections into modern art.

We experimented with the different settings on our cameras, how to make a picture of the lovely setting but also to show the movement of people, giving life to a photo.  We were so engrossed that we lost track of time until tired feet and rumbling stomachs reminded us that we had missed our lunch and it was time to remedy this.

We repaired to a restaurant in Dame Street.   During lunch, we had time to look at some of Suzie’s more amazing photos – her view of the Taj Mahal, taken in the early hours of the morning, was the most heart-stopping picture I have ever seen.

We learned many lessons on Friday, including how important it is to keep old photos of families and times gone by – and also to remember the stories that go with them.  What seems like an insignificant photo today could be of utmost importance and interest later.   Suzie told the story of her aunt, 95 years old, who had lost all her belongings in Hurricane Katrina.  The biggest loss, in all their eyes was a painting of their aunt, done when she was young and very beautiful and which always hung on her wall.   Suzie looked through her Dad’s old album and there among all the photos, was one of the painting.   She had it scanned and printed and presented it to her aunt on her birthday.  Her aunt cried when she saw it, she was so surprised and happy to see it again.

This story should remind us that family gatherings, weddings, christenings, when the different generations get together, are ideal opportunities to bring old photos to share with other family members and, maybe, find out who is the person in the corner, making funny faces, or who the lady with the spectacular hat really was.

Thank you, Suzie, for a lovely afternoon and for all the information you imparted in such a friendly, non-patronising way.  I completely forgot my shortcomings as a photographer and felt I had shared the hours with friends.

 

Watch Suzie tell the story of her aunt’s lost photogaphs on the PhotoWings website.

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