Alan Phelan has been working for the past three years on reviving the Joly Screen process, a forgotten colour photography process invented in the 1890s in Dublin by John Joly, a physics professor from Trinity College.
This exhibition marks the first major exhibition of this new body of work. The photographs are small 4×5 sheet film sized images as they comprise of the sheet film from a large format camera and a colour screen. The Joly process is not a chemical process but instead filters light on exposure and display to create colour. The screen is made up of red, green and blue stripes which Phelan then engages as installation devices on walls and windows to reference the process and a wider art history of installation. The small images have the intensity of painted miniatures, illuminated by LED panels, slowing down the viewing of a photograph as well as allowing for a unique colour shift that happens on display.
The images have nostalgic feel given muted colours and the content of this selection of work which reference historic flower paintings made in collaboration with Dunboyne Flower and Garden Club*. For Phelan this is an opportunity to expand his interest in participatory practices, art making that involves working with others to expand the notion of authorship into a shared activity, one that remains unfixed and creating agency as well as new knowledge in the process.
The above image references the work of Spanish painter Juan van der Hamen’s work from the 1620s.
*Alan Phelan and Dunboyne Flower and Garden Club were recipients of Meath County Council Cultural Services Creative Award 2019. This award is supported by the Meath County Council Creative Ireland Programme.
Photos by Paul McCarthy