Christy MacNamara converges fine art and traditional Irish music
By: Brendan Patrick Keane | Published Thursday, June 17, 2010, 6:57 PM | Updated Saturday, August 3, 2013, 10:48 PM
Christy MacNamara is a musician from the heart of the music in Clare who is making a home for himself in NYC. MacNamara is a highly acclaimed photographer who has made the life and music of his native county, the subject of his critically acclaimed work in photography, music and story. The Morrison Hotel in SoHo is better known for displaying works by photographers recording the images of rock legends like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, and yet MacNamara's black and white images from the rural kitchens where Clare's musical legends play their tunes, have been on display at the Morrison in a unique presentation converging fine art and traditional Irish life. The work feels right at home, as though some of legends of modern popular music were returning themselves to Irish sources.
MacNamara's influences draw on the local and his unique access and understanding of people who make the tradition in Clare the special thing it is. MacNamara has narrated his sense of life, and his art in what has to be one of the finest books ever written on Irish traditional music, called "The Living Note", which is now out of print. The book is a collection of some of his classic photographs married to stories he has written with Peter Woods.
"The Living Note: the Heartbeat of Irish Music," was first published in 1996 presenting a fictionalized narrative of a young traditional musician and his family. The striking black-and-white images capture moments you could not capture without a kind of access only the intimate would have right to. He is in the middle of sessions at pubs, at weddings and wakes, and in the homes of people just as they laugh or hit the note that makes their face light up in an ecstasy only another musician might recognize.
Christy has built up a large body of music photography recording U2 and The Pogues alongside the legends of Irish music like Martin Hayes and his father PJ playing together. In 2007, MacNamara released his first solo recording "The House I Was Reared In." He is the first ever Irish winner of a Communication Art Award for his photograph of the fiddle player Paddy Killoughery. His work has been shown from London to Los Angeles and throughout Europe and Scandanavia and is held in many private and public collections worldwide. During 2006 and 2007 Christy's work was exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, La Jolla San Diegio, London and Ireland. You can learn more about this great artist at http://www.christymcnamara.com/