Northern Irelans

Clare Gallagher

www.claregallagher.co.uk

Biography

Clare Gallagher (b. 1978) is a Northern Irish artist whose work focuses on the ordinary, everyday practices of home. A photography lecturer since 2003, Clare teaches on the BA and MFA Photography programmes at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University. She is also working on a practice-based PhD using photography to research the hidden work of home and motherhood. Her book The Second Shift will be published in late 2019.

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Portfolio

The Second Shift

The Second Shift is the term given to the hidden shift of housework and childcare primarily carried out by women on top of their paid employment. It is physical, mental and emotional labour which demands effort, skill and time but is unpaid, unaccounted for, unequally distributed and largely unrecognised.

Hidden in plain sight and veiled by familiarity and insignificance, the second shift is largely absent from photographs of home and family. This work is an attempt to recognise the complexity and value of this invisible work. It is a call for resistance to the capitalist, patriarchal and aesthetic systems which ignore it.

‘I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes - and six months later you have to start all over again.’ - Joan Rivers

‘Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition. The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.’ - Simone de Beauvoir

‘I understand the snare of the slimy: it is a fluidity which holds me and which compromises me; I cannot slide on this slime, all its suction cups hold me back; it cannot slide over me, it clings to me like a leech.’ - Jean-Paul Sartre

‘In 2016, the value of the UK’s unpaid household service work was estimated at £1.24 trillion…; overall unpaid household service work was equivalent to 63.1% of gross domestic product (GDP).’ - Office for National Statistics

‘And what’s worse is that all of it, all of this work that I shouldn’t be doing, is taking place in the one place I shouldn’t have to be doing work at all: in fact, the one place I come to get away from work. It is taking place at home.’ - Edward Hollis

Portfolio

Domestic Drift

Domestic Drift is concerned with everyday life - the ordinary activities, states of mind and conditions of existence that fill time outside the moments of drama and spectacle. It examines the sense of ordinariness inherent in the repetitive, habitual work of home while trying to appreciate the experience as simultaneously mundane and precious.

The everyday is complex terrain. It is always there, readily and universally available; surely it is so obvious that it needs no unveiling. And yet, it is also shrouded in haze, our sense of it dulled by familiarity and habit. It may induce a feeling of comfort in simple rituals or of imprisonment in tedious routine. While the ordinary and unremarkable constitute the fabric of much of life, our attention is lured away from the quotidian toward the dramatic and exotic.

Inspired by Guy Debord's Theory of the Dérive, I began by following his directions:

'In a dérive, one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.'

Portfolio

Verges

The photographs in Verges examine the potential for everyday resistance through the growth and habits of weeds. Attending more closely to our ordinary surroundings and appreciating the familiar undermines the capitalist desire for commodity and spectacle, for the exotic and dramatic.

It is easy to feel so tightly constrained by grown-up concerns that we don’t have time to notice what we encounter every day. It becomes hard to see the opportunities for pleasure or plenitude lurking within them. Rocks and trees stop being forts, scraps of paper become just mess, and dandelions, goosegrass and buttercups evolve from playthings into hostile invaders of our land.

These photographs aim to reclaim some of the freedom and creativity that weeds exhibit. They defy preoccupations with property and boundaries, growing wherever suits them, however untidy or inconvenient it is for us. Making use of tiny scraps of dirt to grow roots, weeds use ingenious ways to find spaces in hostile environments to thrive, teasing our desire for order and control. They suggest a view of nature as autonomous, rather than one in which it exists only to serve us.

Observing and recording weeds offers a playful, life-affirming perspective that resists judgmental thinking about our everyday environment and invites us to experience it anew.