Gallery | An imperfect normality: daily life in Syria before the chaos

This retrospective exhibition gives a pictures of Syria before the outbreak of war in 2011

An Imperfect Normality is a retrospective exhibition of pictures by Tommie Lehane of a Syria that was. The work provides a poignant counterbalance to the stream of images of fleeing Syrian refugees dominating news images. Like dozens, and more, periods throughout Syria’s long history, the depicted time of peaceful existence is now past and consigned to the history books. Currently ravaged by war and chaos, it is hard to imagine a place that, to those who lived within its territory or who crossed its borders, it was a relatively normal place to be.

This work seeks to document a normality whilst hinting at its imperfections and considering the effect of war as a method of change.

The images are from 2005 and 2009 when the photographer visited initially as a tourist and on the second occasion staying in the house of a friend in a village. He was there for a few weeks for each period of shooting.

Al Hamidiyah village


The work is focused around the normality of life in a place where the obvious undercurrents have now resulted in the awful situation that now exists. Lehane had planned to return in 2012 to focus on the "Greeks of Al Hamidiyah", the village where some of these images were taken, but events overtook his plans and through war the Syria he had come to know no longer exists.

Lehane's practise is primarily centered on the exploration of place. Unusually, he has a dual focus on the Middle East and a small village, Castlegregory, on the Dingle Penninsula. Lehane has been widely exhibited in Ireland and Europe and also, at the start of 2015, in war-torn Aleppo, in Syria.

In 2014 Tommie Lehane was the recipient of the Alliance Française Photography Laureate. The exhibition runs in the Copper House Gallery Dublin from September 10th to September 25th.