The Irish Centre, Digbeth. Contact Sheets #1.

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It was only by chance that I met with Sister Teresa one Tuesday afternoon, just as she was finishing up with the Tuesday Club. She was a very welcoming person, and told me all about the club that meets every Tuesday. They are older members of the Irish community that moved to Birmingham and the West Midlands in the 40’s and 50’s. Teresa was more than happy to let me make portraits of her and some of her friends, and kindly invited me back the following week to meet more of the people who frequent the Centre.

Despite being slightly unprepared for a portrait shoot as I only had a small flashgun with me, I am very pleased with some of the results. In particular, the photograph of Teresa’s hands, focussed on her rings and her missing two fingers from her work in the war is very strong. I chose to use this as the front cover for my book also.

Unfortunately, the portrait of Teresa sat on the sofa did not come out as well as I hoped, as the flash I was using did not provide enough fill light. I therefore had to pull up the shadows quite drastically, resulting in a noisy image which was ultimately unusable and slightly soft. This was such a shame and I would very much like to reshoot, but I will sadly not be able to include a portrait of Teresa in the first edition of the book. This is such a massive shame as she is the one who coordinates the Tuesday Club, so she is a key figure within the Birmingham Irish community.

I also visited the Spotted Dog which is another Irish pub just round the corner from the Irish Centre. This pub was actually frequented by the Peaky Blinders in the 1920’s and 30’s, so there is a lot of history there! As it was a Tuesday afternoon, there were not many people in the pub, but it was interesting to actually photograph the interiors and some of the details. Amanda Harman’s series Clubhouse was very influential here, as I wanted to portray the interior and outside of the pub in a quiet and considered way, allowing the viewer to really engage with the imagery and imagine what it would be like to be there.

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