28 August 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard


Well-known Monaghan Town photographer John Nutley unveiled an impressive body of creative work in his chosen medium at the Market House in the county capital last Thursday evening.

His exhibition “The Reality of Being”, consisting of a series of imaginative photographic essays backed up by a rolling slideshow display of a large body of his professional and more candid work, remains on view until Saturday, September 19.

“John is a diverse and keen photographer who can photograph almost anything,” the literature accompanying the display remarks, and the images on show are testament to the Dublin native’s versatility.

“The Reality of Being” is the product of skills honed in Monaghan’s Spectrum Art Group and the local Photographic Society and brought to maturity through study at O Fiaich College, Dundalk and DIT Dublin.

As a reflection of the exhibition’s contents, its chosen title is playful rather than ostentatious – the images on view communicate an awareness that the superficial reality captured even in the visual documents created through the camera lens is open to a multitude of meanings and interpretations, and that the arrangement of photographs in sequential sets can become narratives and commentaries in skilled hands.

John’s a bit of a story-teller, and a good one – he can make you laugh (Low Life’s rodent-eye view of the Monaghan streetscape is a bittersweet satire on the economic downturn) and jerk a tear from you (the chilling juxtaposition of nursery imagery to communicate the tragedy of Angel), and he can retell a tired fairy tale vividly (inviting us to take the role of the Big Bad Wolf in Temptation) and utilise the same forest setting to ghost story effect (although the evocative Lost seems to follow with most fidelity the pathways through vampire-haunted Transylvania explored by his kindred Dublin creative spirit Bram Stoker).

John’s recourse to Rossmore Park as a venue of creative and spiritual renewal is demonstrated in a kaleidoscope of colour and his keen eye for the beauty of his adopted town is perhaps best represented by the way in which Rainy Day in Monaghan transforms the drab into the dramatic. The stand-alone Remember is a seductive invitation to return to childhood Christmas innocence; while a new take is offered on the photographer’s representation of the female nude that reinvigorates the jaded sensual palette by recasting the from as a segmented landscape rich in visual and erotic exploratory possibilities (Bodyscapes).

Speaking at last Thursday evening’s launch, Monaghan Co Council Arts Officer Somhairle Mac Conghail spoke of John’s contribution to the local community and the general well-being of the town. He said that John had invested a lot of his time in the town and they had all seen his photographs on social media and in the local newspaper – the Market House was proud to give him the opportunity to show his work.

Mr Mac Conghail encouraged those present at the launch to return to the exhibition during the course of its run and to spend more time looking at the photographs on display.

Welcoming everyone present, John himself said there were a lot of people who had helped him over the course of his career to date, and he wanted to express his thanks to them, and his appreciation to the Market House staff for affording him the opportunity to put his work on display in this beautiful venue.

“Most of my work takes place in Rossmore Park and in Monaghan Town, which are two little gems that need to get out there,” the photographer stated.   “They are absolutely hidden away but there is beauty within the two of them.”

He paid tribute to his tutor Ken Finegan, stating that he had learned a great deal for him and Ken had provided him with great help. “Were it not for him, I would not be putting this exhibition on display tonight,” John told the audience.

Prior to officially opening “The Reality of Being”, Ken Finnegan congratulated John on the diversity and quality of his work, which showed what was going on in his mind. He also thanked Somhairle and his staff at the Market House for their generous welcome and for providing what was a great space for this type of work.

Mr Finegan said the presence of a number of distinguished figures in the attendance, such as DkIT course head Anthony Haughey, showed the respect which people had for John.

“When I look at the skillset necessary to become a photographer, one of the main attributes is imagination,” Mr Finnegan stated, stressing the importance of a photographer taking an idea and developing a project from it, and looking at something familiar and producing from it a comprehensive body of work.

It was also important to have the ability to make one’s images in the camera, rather than relying on a certain amount of software. This was a technique that had been ongoing since the beginning of photography – it was not new, but he still thought it was important.

“No matter how good you are imaginatively or technically, unless you have the drive and willingness to go out and make this work, it will not be seen. No matter how good a photographer you are, or how good you are in any walk of life, unless you put in the work, ultimately no one is going to see it.”

Mr Finegan also emphasised the importance of ongoing education: “No matter what age you are or what level of education you are at, never stop.” Noting that John had returned to study a number of years ago and was now in the third year of his degree, he said that no one should be afraid to go back to education.

He concluded by congratulating John, and describing how pleased he was to see his work on display – he was totally honoured to open the exhibition.

John Nutley Exhibition.01-2

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