Colourfully classic Christmas lights are strung up across the top floor of the Atrium and lovely music drifts through the warm air, creating a wonderful sense of cosiness at the Dublin University Photography Association (DUPA) winter exhibition. As attendees walk and talk around the holiday spirit infused space, sipping mulled wine and devouring mince pies, they take a journey through time and space into each photograph as they move from life to life through different lenses. Because while the theme was journeys, as anyone could submit an image, the way they were captured and expressed was unique throughout.
There were children and families, old and young, friends and lovers, isolation and emptiness, joy and connection, each thing an experience unto itself, all on display against a blank wall. There were descriptions in varying degrees of briefness below each image, inviting the audience to interpret, feel, and even project their own experiences onto them. An enormous amount of skill and passion was on display, each picture suffused with its own mood and story told in a different way. DUPA’s chairperson, Seamus Carroll, highlighted the differences in style being a driving force in putting together the exhibition.
“The aim of this exhibition, and with all our exhibitions, it’s just about showcasing the photographers we have in the student body on Trinity campus. Bring everyone together, giving everyone a chance to showcase some of their work, and everyone else getting to see different styles of photography that maybe they’re not familiar with”, Carroll said.
From film cameras to phones and everything in between, the transitory state pervaded each moment captured, and was appreciated by many. Admiration buzzed through the Atrium which was densely packed, with the area around the table serving free beverages and snacks being especially congested. Yet the members of the Traditional Irish Music Society (TradSoc) playing in one section of the space were given room, even with people coming and going, or stopping to look on and listen.
As one looked on, not only at the musicians but at the photographs, there was a sense of nostalgia. Though of course there were many other emotions and journeys displayed against the walls, there still a large feeling of the photographers reaching back into the past. This may have been due to the subject matter, or the viewers’ perspective being warped by the upcoming holiday break, or the lighting and editing choices made. It was perhaps all of these things, but also the inspiration that drove the choices of which photos to exhibit.
“I think we just wanted something that captured the sense of nostalgia around Christmas. Obviously young people travelling over the summer is usually where you feel very inspired to take pictures, but I think a lot of the work we’ve got is more the sense of coming home – and around Christmas I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for”, said Carroll.
The nostalgia and the community was there in each picture. Even with many images being of individual journeys, in that packed, warm space, there was a reminder that no journey has to be taken alone. The feelings and experiences were familiar and cathartic, rendering the aims successful, and the inspiration actualised. While the photographs and journeys can be empathised with at any point in time, amidst the atmosphere in the Atrium that night it truly embodied a holiday exhibition.