After 52 interviews, our year-long series of A Tribal Vision has come to an end. To all the intriguing people we interviewed, thank you for your insight and your honesty. People are what make a place, and these are some of the people responsible for making Galway what it is.
Here are a few words from the A Tribal Vision team:
What we wanted for A Tribal Vision from the very beginning was a no agenda, no holds barred, no (or very little) editing...just conversations. No politics, no advertising to think of, no people to please. The only remit was that it was focused on culture - those who were creative or those who were culturally inspiring, or doing all they could to add to the culture of the city. And that's what it turned out to be. 52 wonderfully imperfect, honest, sweary, vulnerable and passionate, inspiring conversations.
For me, trying to capture personalities, drive and dreams in each interview for those couple of hours, was the most enjoyable part of the series. And with Boyd's personality-focused photography and Dave's advice, editing and designs skills, I think you get a good sense of the person.
One common thread throughout the series was a sense of individualism, of strength of character, of going in a direction with determination. At the same time, there was a strong sense of community, of creating a better environment for everyone. There was a lot of attitude, a whole lot of self-belief.
This collective vision can, and will, make Galway a better place to live and work. I can see how maybe the one thing that's missing from the city to make this possible is a broad and open platform where groups of exceptionally talented and visionary people can get together to plot and plan and inspire each other. I think that, with this type of a community, anything is possible.
My interest in producing A Tribal Vision came from working on a number of research projects at NUIG relating to culture and creativity in Galway. I was struck by the diversity of the people in the creative sector, and more importantly, the challenges they faced. It felt like people were creating their work in spite of the conditions they were facing, rather than being enabled to create. It also seemed that their endeavours were black-boxes where most only ever see the output of it, not the work involved.
We tried to get as broad a mix of 'creative' people as we could, and we got a pretty good spread across the various creative sectors. The theatre and performance area is a little over-represented, but that reflects the depth of activity happening in this sector in Galway. We were conscious that we wanted to keep a gender balance, but weren't intentionally aiming for the 50/50 split that we got; I guess we were just lucky.
Before we started, I had been following a number of in-depth interview series that gave the scope to delve into the subject's background and to bring in a sense of personality to the piece. The people we wanted to focus on are putting things they create out into the world - we thought that exploring their motivations, how they reached that point, and what, if anything, they had in common with each other would be an interesting project. Given the groundwork that was being done around Galway 2020 at the time, and how it prompted people to look to the future, bringing in an aspect of people's vision for the city was apt.
On the design side of things, it felt important that if we were going to go with long in-depth pieces, that they be interesting to look at as well as to read. Because they're all creative people, we had a fantastic selection of image and video content to work with, which was great and I think it worked really well. I found that seeing even just snippets of people's work, alongside the stories of what they went through to produce it, was often very powerful. The profile photography Boyd did really boosted that visual side of things too - it really draws you in when you start reading an interview. For me, each shot is like an introduction to the person you're going to get to know as you read their story, and because they're not heavily edited, you're learning about them in their own words.
When Jo got in touch with me in early last year, and asked me if I'd be interested in collaborating on the project with herself and Dave, I didn't have to think too long.
Galway is an amazing city, made all the better by the colourful characters that inhabit it.
Did I want to take some time out to meet interesting people and photograph them?
52 weeks later and I enjoyed every minute.
The focus of the project is very much about the people's stories. Jo has an fantastic ability to set people at ease, and this comes through so prominently in the tone of the interviews.
I hoped to reflect this in the imagery.
The series in numbers
- Over 47 Hours of interviews
- 173,197 words
- 335 pages of edited interviews
A huge thank-you is due to those readers who contributed towards the running costs of this project. Thanks also to everyone who read, shared and commented on the articles (online and in-person), and emailed us feedback - that type of interaction is one of the things that makes a project like this enjoyable.
Until next time...