Shooting soldiers in a handball alley: Amelia Stein’s The Bloods

Defence Forces personnel appear in all their guises in the photographer’s powerful portraits

The Bloods: Recce Platoon Soldier - Night Vision, Private Oisin Roche, 2019 (left); Battalion Mascot and Handler, Irish Wolfhound Fionn, Private James Dooley, 2016 (centre); and Soldier, Camogie Player, Private Ciara Nevin, 2019

The Bloods: Recce Platoon Soldier - Night Vision, Private Oisin Roche, 2019 (left); Battalion Mascot and Handler, Irish Wolfhound Fionn, Private James Dooley, 2016 (centre); and Soldier, Camogie Player, Private Ciara Nevin, 2019

Amelia Stein’s The Bloods, at the new Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, shows the men and women of the Defence Forces in all their guises

Unless you’re caught off-guard, or have someone handy to wrap your arms around, one of the problems of a posed portrait is what to do with your hands. Some photographers recommend crossing your arms. Others suggest holding an imaginary euro coin. The more generous of them give you one. This problem clearly goes out the window if you have a gun.

In Amelia Stein’s powerful portraits of members of the Defence Forces from the 3 Inf Bn (which is how they like to write it, but spells out as Third Infantry Battalion), guns, books, swords and a dog are among the items held. The exhibition’s title, The Bloods, is a nickname for the battalion, and the show inaugurates the new home for Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery. It is also the culmination of five years’ work by the Dublin and Mayo-based photographer.

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