A professional artist from Crusheen, Christy McNamara is a keeper of the tradition that he learned through family and community at home in County Clare. He plays button accordion and concertina, and sings and composes. Equally, he is a photographic artist and a teller of stories. His photography captures an intimate portrayal of Irish rural life, beginning in County Clare. It is significant on both aesthetic and documentary levels: a specific focus on a locale, made with the insight of an insider, a local eye and understanding.
Traditional music is rooted in place and Christy has used the image as a way of telling a personal story of home, family, tradition and how that tradition is passed on. He says: “I began this work almost 20 years ago as a matter of urgency; many of the older people featured in this exhibition are now dead and gone. I was privileged to have grown up around them, to hear them play and to be part of this music family and community. They have touched my heart and soul and taught me so much. I would never have been able to take these pictures without being part of it. This is a view from within and a celebration of those who played the music and passed it on.”
His photography is influnced by the work of the great master documentary and portrait photographers of the 20th century. The images are all authentic photographic images; they are uncropped and are made from the original negatives . They were all shot in the available light and made with the pre-digital era cameras (a Nikon F3, Leica M6 and Roeliflex) that he still uses for all of his work.
Christy has received recognition both as a musician and as a photographic artist. His 2007 debut album, “The House I Was Reared “ was critically acclaimed and his photography of traditional musicians and their environs shown in the book "The Living Note,” a collaboration with writer and radio producer Peter Woods (O’Brien Press ,1996, currently out of print), has gained worldwide attention and praise through exhibitions, publications and awards. It has been included in reading lists of Universities and Colleges. Work from this collection appears in the current exhibition. It is an intimate view of musicians in the act of creating and inhabiting a world of their own through the music they play.
His work has been exhibited extensively and it can be found in public collections, including that of Clare County Council and The Irish Traditional Music Archive. It has been sought after by private art collectors ,including Hollywood Oscar-nominated screen writer Jeff Maguire and the actors Brad Pitt and Whoopi Goldberg.