Series exploring unusual lives are actually not that unusual; however Robert Ellis’ poetic photographs of the New Line community in Ireland stands out with its quiet beauty. This is part of a project about people but – as the scored-out title We are replaced with Where we are suggests – we can learn so much through seeing the place they live in, that we need not even see them.
Robert’s photographs taken inside the New Line houses are exquisitely composed, the light falling on wicker chairs and pears like a scene painted by a Dutch master. A blossom tree surrounded by scrubby grass acquires an almost supernatural glow beneath a storm-impending sky in one image, whilst in others crisp autumnal morning light gives a freshness to even the shabbiest surroundings. Taken over a period of four years, these scenes are soaked with serenity.
New Line is one of 12 series set in Ireland that make up Where we are which hopes to “provide fresh, honest perspectives on the people, places and stories that make up modern Ireland.” The collective takes the view that “by looking, not talking, we might get a clearer sense of where we are” and, if Robert’s contemplative study is representative, provides a lyrical insight into this country that can seem both so familiar, and so different.