3,400 Dubliners depicted at the Gallery of Photography

Exhibition features the work of Arthur Fields taken from over a 50-year period

Images of more than 3,400 Dubliners and visitors to the capital from the 1930s to the 1980s have been captured in a new exhibition at the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar.

The Man on the Bridge exhibition is a collection of the work of Arthur Fields a "street photographer" who took pictures of passers by on O'Connell Bridge over a 50 year period.

John and Vera Hand from St Margaret’s in north Dublin, who feature in the exhibition as a young courting couple coming from the cinema in 1968, explained the process.

“He’d point the camera at you and you’d slow down or stop if you wanted the picture taken. He’d give you a card with a number on it and then a few days later you’d go to a shop on Talbot Street , and if you liked it you’d buy it,” Mr Hand said.


“They were very popular, because it was such a rigmarole taking a picture in those days, and a lot of people wouldn’t have had cameras, and if you did, you wouldn’t really be taking them on a night out,” Mrs Hand said.

Despite taking hundreds of thousands of photographs from the 1930s right up to 1988 none of the negatives of Field's pictures survive. All of the photographs in exhibition have been contributed by their subjects, or family members of those featured who responded to a crowd-sourcing project by independent film-makers, Ciarán Deeney and David Clarke of El Zorrero Films, using social media as well as advertisements in shops such as Clerys in O'Connell Street, which features as a back drop to some of the photographs.

Most are the work of Fields, who worked mainly on O’Connell Bridge, but other street photographers who worked on O’Connell Street including Con Keane, Danny Delahunty, Harry Cowan, Max Coleman, John Quinn are thought to feature in the exhibition.

The exhibition illustrates changing fashions and the changing attitudes to photography over the 20th century. The subjects of the earliest shots from the 1930s and 1940s are quite formally dressed, with teenage girls dressed very similarly to their mothers, and often they appear ill at ease in front of the camera. In later shots the subjects seem more relaxed and are more likely to perform for the camera.

Most of those featured are “ordinary” people but some famous faces appear including actors Noel Purcell and Margaret Rutherford and 1940s boxer Jack Doyle and his wife signer Movita Castaneda.

The exhibition continues until January 8th.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times