Bridget Murphy Milligan

Fireside Tales: A Convergence of Fact and Fiction

BMMilligan-A Great Sorrow, diptych

BMMilligan-A Great Sorrow, diptych

BMMilligan - A Great Sorrow (left)

BMMilligan – A Great Sorrow (left)

BMMilligan - A Great Sorrow (right)

BMMilligan – A Great Sorrow (right)

BMMilligan - Big Winds

BMMilligan – Big Winds

BMMilligan - Wren Day

BMMilligan – Wren Day

BMMilligan - King of Cats

BMMilligan – King of Cats

BMMilligan - Gone Hunting

BMMilligan – Gone Hunting

BMMIlligan-Castle Builders

BMMIlligan-Castle Builders

BMMilligan - The Pooka

BMMilligan – The Pooka

BMMilligan - Sacred Tree

BMMilligan – Sacred Tree

BMMilligan - Night Watchmen

BMMilligan – Night Watchmen

BMMilligan - The Little Land (diptych)

BMMilligan – The Little Land (diptych)

BMMilligan-The Little Land (left)

BMMilligan-The Little Land (left)

BMMIlligan - The Little Land (right)

BMMIlligan – The Little Land (right)

Artist Statement: Fireside Tales

One of the oldest art forms, storytelling is both collective and ephemeral. It embraces everything from rumors, jokes, gossip around the kitchen table, to stories once told around the fireside. In oral tradition, the life of a story undergoes multiple adaptations, and with technology constantly changing and reinventing the way we communicate and share with one another, what will become of traditional storytelling? This exhibition examines and preserves the tradition of Irish storytelling through the language of photography. Together the images recreate popular stories of faith, mystery, myth, humor, history, and legends.

The digital collages combine photographs taken while traveling in Ireland and scanned drawings, paintings, and pages from antique storybooks. They are divided into two worlds; the factual depictions of ruins, monastic sites, rocks, bogs, fields, fences, and seaside cliffs, places that once inspired these tales. The shadows, simple renderings of animals or figures representing stock characters and common archetypes in Irish folklore, twist reality into a fantasy. They transport the images into a re-imagined existence, transparent silhouettes of the real, fading in and out of being, like ghosts or memories. The digitally infused drawn and painted nighttime skies convey a sense of mystery by emphasizing the low light and looming shadows. With the darkness of night comes the unknown and are when many of these fireside tales are told and the characters in these tales come alive.

Once a story is captured and written down it is locked into context. The stories themselves change with time, audience, and location, but part of the magic lies in the fact that along the way they pick up bits and pieces of the present and record it forever. With this thought in mind, I included the fragmented and diffused texts from vintage children’s books. For me, the texts and pictorial illustrations in the old children books illustrate how the characters are frozen in time and space. My hope is to generate contemporary folklore retellings that reveal a convergence of factual places and fictional narratives or daydreams.