'At one time I suspected he was colour-blind!" artist Brian Bourke said of his brother, photographer Fergus Bourke, at the opening of a posthumous show of the latter's work in Dublin's Peppercanister Gallery this week. Fergus Bourke, who documented Dublin and Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, worked almost exclusively in black and white over the course of his lengthy career.
But, as his brother explained, "finally, the extraordinary colours of Connemara got to him".
Bourke, the first photographer to be admitted to Aosdána (in 1980), died in 2004, but many continue to be affected by his work, as the high turnout at the opening of Connemara Landscapes revealed.
Artist Liam Belton said he was amazed by the colour in the photographs. "It's absolutely striking," he said.
For Marie Bourke, keeper of the National Gallery of Ireland, the photographs managed to work on many different levels.
"Interestingly enough, although the works are absolutely realistic, they're very evocative, very poetic," she said.
Actor Emmet Bergin said he had been a friend of Bourke's, as well as an admirer of his photography. "I've always loved his work," he said.
Equally impressed was the Slovenian ambassador to Ireland, Franc Miksa, himself an amateur photographer, who described the photographs as "excellent". He was accompanied by his wife, Amalija Jelen Mika.
Artists Makiko Nakamura and Mark De Freyne also attended the opening, along with arts adviser for the Office of Public Works Patrick J Murphy, poet Micheal O'Siadhail, journalist Emer O'Kelly and harpist Deirdre O'Carroll, who was photographed by Fergus Bourke with her late husband, Noel Carroll.
Fergus Bourke (1934-2004): Connemara Landscapes is at the Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin, until Oct 24.
Irish Times, October 6th 2007