What? St. Patrick’s Day coming up? Need a gift, even if a few days after? Everyone is welcome to the book launch for “North & South Ireland: Before Good Friday and the Celtic Tiger,” documentary photographs from the mid-1980s by the notable Jim Higgins of Lowell. The event is Sunday, March 22, 2 pm to 4 pm, at the National Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street, downtown Lowell. Free parking available at the National Park lot off Dutton Street. Jim will speak briefly with images on screen and then sign books until he falls off his chair. The event is hosted by the Lowell Irish Cultural Committee, Loom Press, and National Park Service.
Please come by and buy as many copies of the book as your bank account will allow. I’m saying this as the publisher from Loom Press.
If you cannot make it to the event on March 22, or if you cannot wait to get your hands on this outstanding book, please visit www.loompress.com to purchase the book online. We are not on amazon.com yet but will be there, too, after the rush. — PM
With North & South Ireland: Before Good Friday and the Celtic Tiger, James Higgins adds to his remarkable photography portfolio a set of astonishing images of people and places on an island that was on the cusp of enormous change. He’s cracked open a time capsule to reveal the enduring beauty, emotional power, and arresting visual facts of a land in two parts whose boundary lines fade under the photographer’s eye.
In the middle 1980s, Higgins traveled to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland several times. Initially, he was not searching for ancestors or out to explore a popular world destination. Rather, beginning with his first journey he was drawn in by Irish soulfulness. He did touch his roots among relatives in County Leitrim, but his curiosity sent him around the island to see what he could see, to find what he could find. He preserved what entered his mind.
These images give us Ireland from top to bottom in those years before the giant tech companies transformed the economy and before the peace accords in the North, which calmed the Troubles that had destabilized the society there for decades. Many Americans, in particular, will recognize in these photographs the land of origin of their forebears or the place they themselves toured in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. In their fixed form, Higgins’ photographs are timeless in the way the Irish sea and fields and faces hold time.
Photographer, writer, and multi-media producer James Higgins is the author of the graphic novel Nether World and co-author with Joan Ross of three documentary photography books: Lowell: A Contemporary View, Southeast Asians: A New Beginning in Lowell, and Fractured Identities: Cambodia’s Children of War. His Ephemera won first prize for experimental films in the VSM Film Festival in Hollywood, Calif. The Kingdom of Kambuja, a multi-media performance work by Flying Orb, which he co-founded with dancers from the Angkor Dance Troup, received the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Gold Star Award. In the past fifteen years, Flying Orb Productions has created stage productions and related films featuring casts of Southeast Asian actors and dancers.
Higgins’ signature work chronicling the renaissance of the historic textile mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts, and the settlement in the city of refugees from the Vietnam War and Khmer Rouge genocide has assured his place as one of the premier photographers of his generation. His photographs have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Addison Gallery of American Art, and other galleries and museums. He lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.