Paul Gaffney


For the past number of years, Paul Gaffney (b. 1979) has been investigating different ways of experiencing and representing the landscape. His current PhD research explores how the act of image-making can enable and disrupt a sense of connection with one’s surroundings.

Drawing on Arnold Berleant’s theory of a ‘participatory approach’ to landscape, in which the artist, environment and viewer are considered to be in continuous dialogue with each other, his practice proposes to communicate an experience of immersion in nature to the viewer.

Gaffney holds an MFA in Photography from the University of Ulster in Belfast, and a Diploma in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport. He has been selected for the Arts Council’s ‘Next Generation Bursary Award’ 2016-17 and has been nominated for both the Prix Pictet and Deutsche Borse prizes.

His books have been nominated for the Photobook Award at the International Photobook Festival Kassel (2013 & 2016), shortlisted for the European Publishers Award for Photography, and selected for several ‘Best Photobooks of The Year’ lists.

Gaffney’s work has also been presented as solo exhibitions at the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (Luxembourg), Flowers Gallery (London), Gallery of Photography (Dublin), Belfast Exposed Gallery, Ffotogallery (Cardiff), Oliver Sears Gallery (Dublin) and in group shows and festivals in the US, UK, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, France and China.

His images have been published internationally in print and online periodicals including American Suburb X, Harvard Design Review, Creative Review, The New Yorker, European Photography, DU Magazine, Katalog, PaperJam, Source, Photomonitor and Landscape Stories.

Paul is represented by Oliver Sears Gallery (Dublin, Ireland).

Selected Awards / Nominations / Shortlists
2018: FELIFA International Prize (finalist)
2018: Digital Media Award – Fire Station Studios (winner)
2017: Arts Council Visual Artist Bursary (recipient of award for 2017/18)
2017: Deutsche Borse Photography Prize (nominated)
2016: Arts Council Next Generation Bursary (recipient of award for 2016/17)
2016: Prix Pictet Award (nominated)
2016: Photobook Award 2016 – 8th International Fotobook Festival, Beijing (nominated)
2015: MACK First Book Award (nominated)
2014: Portfolio Days – Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (CNA), Luxembourg (winner)
2014: Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50
2014: Arts Council Travel and Training Award
2014: Culture Ireland Visual Arts Grant
2013: Photobook Award 2013 – 6th International Fotobook Festival, Kassel (nominated)
2013: European Publishers Award for Photography (shortlisted)
2013: Johnsons Photopia Award - Format Festival, Derby
2013: Human Flows – CRASSH, University of Cambridge (winner)



Stray was photographed in a dense pine forest in near-total darkness during an artist residency in the south-east of Ireland.

“Drawn with light that is barely perceptible to the eye, Gaffney’s photographs emerge out of intuition, coincidence, and an underlying longing for connection and stillness. And although it’s tempting to call them landscapes, they are created through different ways of knowing a place – ways that acknowledge the moving, feeling body, rather than the distanced and distancing eye, as the foundation of our experience.” - Eugenie Shinkle


We Make the Path by Walking

During 2012 I walked over 3,500 kilometres with the aim of creating a body of work which would explore the idea of long-distance walking as a form of meditation and personal transformation.

My intention was to create a series of quiet, meditative images, which would evoke the experience of being immersed in nature and capture the essence of the journey. The images seek to engage the viewer in this walk, and to communicate a sense of the subtle internal and psychological changes which one may undergo while negotiating the landscape.

Paul Gaffney