Shane J. Horan: “You Gotta Do It”

Over the past few years, photographer Shane J. Horan has been an important part of the Cork music community. Not only has he documented the recent development of the scene for Goldenplec.com, but he’s provided advice and support to local music industry professionals, drawing from his own experience and expertise. Mike McGrath-Bryan gets a chat in about the hard work involved.

From his time running gigs in Limerick cafés, to co-founding community metal promoters Bad Reputation and sharing his knowledge with a new generation of promoters and artists on presenting and framing music, the importance of the work of photographer Shane J. Horan in the Cork music scene cannot be understated. Most recently, he and Good Day News contributor Cailean Coffey have been working together to document gigs and artists in Cork city via Irish music site goldenplec.com. His professionalism and dedication to the ongoing health DIY music and its culture in the city is rooted in his own passion for collaboration. “It’s people creating, and pushing themselves to do more. It means so much for people to get out there, and show what they have made to others. To allow others to take part in the experience. I know people can agree that getting out there and making a human connection is more important, with social media sucking people in these days. However, it’s always been important. It’s inspiring to see individuals in corpse-paint and kilts, or making rhythms and expressing themselves. Take Post-Punk Podge: if expressing yourself means putting an envelope over your head, and banging out dance tunes on a violin, then you gotta do it.”

Not only are collaboration and working together toward a common goal a professional motivator for Horan, but the community spirit engendered by Cork’s music scene has been a big part of his (and others’) personal life, as collaborations become friendships. “I mean, I’m surprised at the amount of people that bond over watching that Post-Punk Podge. It’s the work of others that helps us express ourselves. Sometimes just to dance, sometimes to question your values. It’s the grouping and bonding of people. It might start with a chat at a gig, and then you’re sharing a house with one guy, and working in a job with another. Sometimes it’s years apart between things happening.”

Developing over the years, first as an events professional, then as a photographer and music aesthete, Horan has loaned his skills and expertise to promoters in Limerick and Cork city, most recently mucking in with Cosmonaut Music, a promotions marquee for ‘aggressive but intelligent music’, to paraphrase founder Cormac Daly. As Daly himself transitions into a managerial role for local artists, Horan discusses his experience working together with a driven and focused promoter. “I have worked loads with Cormac of Cosmonaut, in many different venues, and as part of many different teams. He is very responsive to suggestions and collaboration, which makes for a great work environment. I generally keep my mouth closed, though when given the chance though I’ll find myself relighting the stage. After that it’s a case of just being observant.”

As mentioned at the outset, Horan is presently working with Goldenplec.com, and aside from his own work and building a mighty portfolio of music photography, he’s been working with Cailean Coffey, utilising his own contacts to enable Coffey’s own work and professional development via the Irish music-media survivor. “Working with GoldenPlec is a pleasure. I couldn’t ask for better than working with Coffey. I helped him with a few introductions, and since then it’s a partnership. It’s great having a sounding board for your ideas, and with someone who has a different experience and needs something else from the same events. We come from two different points of view on many things musically, I don’t think our playlists overlap. Often, Coffey has a history and insight into how things work which I’d never get as a photographer. It’s also beneficial to see what he sees at gigs and in music media. Highlights how you need to draw influence from all different parts of society.”

GoldenPlec itself is something of a survivor, now, with 16 years of serving Irish music under its belt. Rare has been the digital long-runner among Irish outlets, to say nothing of the changing role of print in media consumption, so the question is: how does an outlet like Goldenplec stay relevant and adapt? “I think they’ll adapt well with the ever-changing landscape of media consumption. They keep their ears close to the ground, and aren’t afraid to cut their own cloth either. There’s a high level of communication within GoldenPlec. Ideas get pitched around all the time, and there’s loads of freedom to experiment. I think the pressure of the changing media will be on bands to self-promote. It’s a delicate balance between staying relevant and over-exposure, but it’s an interesting thing when your local act is fighting with the likes of CNN for your attention and time.”

Having spent a number of years in Cork building a body of work to stand by, the photographer now has his sights set on the future, but is holding his cards close to his chest regarding the specifics. “There’s a couple of projects just started, and a few areas of my personal work I want to focus on. I’m currently drafting up a list of who I want to document. It will be a case of a lot of logistics, which is something that isn’t really seen when you just see the finished work (laughs).”

Search “Shane J. Horan Photographer” across all your social media, and check Goldenplec.com regularly for his visual coverage of Cork city’s music scene.

Cork Photo Festival: “Expect Some Big Changes”

Cork Photo Festival celebrates photography and all its forms in the city’s venues throughout the month of April. Ahead of the festival’s opening, founder and director Naomi Smith speaks with Mike McGrath-Bryan.

Placing photography at the centre of the city with exhibitions and events throughout the city, Cork Photo Festival has become a fixture of the local arts calendar, marrying the art of photography and curation of same with the DIY vibe that permeates Cork. For founder and director Naomi Smith, placing festival hubs around the city centre is an important pillar of its mission statement of community outreach. “(Last year’s) festival featured a festival HQ at Cork Photo Gallery, Fitzgerald’s Park. We held an open call to source work for the gallery and we were delighted to present Cork-based artist Derek Foott. Open calls are an important element to the festival, so this year, we linked up with Triskel Arts Centre, creating the Triskel 40 Photo Prize. Collette Lewis from St. John’s Central College came on board as one of the judges.”

“This year, we have five festival hubs. These are spaces where the Cork Photo team has curated or programmed the venue. Izabela Szczutkowska joins us as the lead on our partnership with TIFF Festival, Wroclaw, bringing the work of Marlena Jabłońska to CCAD Gallery at No.46 Grand Parade. The festival launches at this venue on April 5th at 6:30pm. Kate O’Neill, The OGC, joins us as guest curator to bring Elastic to St Peters Cork, a collective exhibition showcasing work by seven photographers, exploring mental health issues in work practice & process. You’ll find even more at the other festival hubs: Cork Photo Gallery, UCC’s Boole Library and The Glucksman.”

Submissions for various exhibitions and events closed last month, and the reaction to the open calls has been enthusiastic to say the least, with hopeful exhibitors sending work from all over the world. “We had a great response to the Triskel 40 Open Call. It was difficult selecting a winner, we had a lot of submissions with a broad range of approaches. It was great to see submissions coming from Ireland & further afield.”

This year’s programme forms a trail across the city with the aforementioned venues joined by the likes of Elizabeth Fort, The Vinyl Lounge at Golden Discs, St Peter’s Cork, South Parish Community Centre and more. Smith goes into detail on selecting venues and partners to work with. “Cork has a wealth of businesses & heritage sites already engaged in showing work, making it a great city to run a festival in. Also the Individual exhibitors joining us over the years have always been adventurous, making for some pretty interesting exhibition locations. Preparations for our Hub spaces began back in 2016, we work hard at these partnerships and are proud to be working with some of Cork’s finest arts venues & organisations. Plans have started already for CPF20. While we will continue with our open theme, you can expect some big changes.”

A number of exhibitions and events are happening throughout the month – what would be some highlights for those new to photography, or maintaining a casual interest? “Follow the map around the city, you’ll get to see some great work by a range of photographic talents. We’re proud to present a solid programme once again this year. We hope you’ll also be inspired by the DIY element of our festival, it is open to anyone working in the medium who has the determination to get work out there. We recommend dropping in to Phillip Toledano, Maybe: Life & Love at Crawford Gallery on Emmett Place and definitely take a trip out the Sirius Arts Centre to see Spike Island: People & Place. It’s a nice festival trail to follow, pick up a map at any of the venues and make your way round to all the shows! Triskel Christchurch are also presenting a season of documentary films which focus on four notable photographers – Vivian Maier, Don McCullin, Sebastião Salgado and Bill Cunningham.”

Touring publication curators Photobookshow are coming over from Brighton to partake in the Photo Festival proceedings, displaying the photobook medium and showcasing compilations from all over the world. “Book Show runs just for the weekend: April 14th & 15th in The Glucksman, this pop-up show features photobooks selected from open call and is presented by the great team over at Photobookshow. We’re excited to have them here in Cork, they are working their way through the alphabet and you can see the previous lineups on photobookshow.co.uk.” Another outlet bringing their specific expertise to the event is photography journal Source Photographic Review, reviewing local photography and touching base with the community. It is the continuation of a long-running partnership. “We’ve partnered with Source Magazine since 2015, they have offered free portfolio review as part of the festival programme each year. It’s a great opportunity to get work seen by an editor of Ireland’s most prestigious photographic publication and past participants of the festival have been published in the magazine. You can subscribe over at source.ie and get access to their digital library too!”

The festival culminates in the awarding of two prizes. In addition to the winner of the Triskel photo honours, a public vote opens online for the city’s favourite exhibited work from the festival’s array of submissions. “The Triskel 40 Photo Prize was awarded to Kallie Cheves after an open call to celebrate The Triskel’s 40th year here in Cork. Kallie’s work, Pageant Wounds, opens April 7th at 2pm in the Triskel Gallery Space, and we are very excited to bring you work all the way from Texas! Those joining us on the 7th will get a chance to chat to Kallie about her work. And from April 1st, we’ll be inviting you to vote online for the Lomography People’s Choice Award, we have a great prize this year from Lomography & love the buzz that the vote creates. Follow the festival trail and let us know which was your most memorable. The winner will be announced at the festival roundup in Cork Photo Gallery at the end of the month.”

With a packed schedule for the next month, and a steadily-building buzz behind Cork Photo Festival, Smith collects her thoughts on the weeks ahead. “It’s a busy & exciting time full of lists, coffee and emails. We can’t wait to launch and get out there to see some photography!”