Picturing the hunt
A collaboration between an ethical hunter and a photojournalist has produced an exhibition at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig called 'First Irish' which examines the lessons that can be learned from the traditions and survival methods of primitive settlers in Ireland.
Photographer Claudio Nego spent time alongside hunter and former vegetarian Neil Motherway, one of several crafters who work in the Heritage park and who holds regular workshops there in the small game butchering and cooking of wild rabbit and fish.
Wicklow resident Neil's approach to the hunt and the respect he gives his quarry reflects some of the ethos of early hunter-gatherers, according to Claudio, a native of Romania who has been living and working in Wexford for the past number of years.
Through his interaction with Neil, Claudio became interested in the way of life of primal stone age society and what it might teach us now in terms of co-operation, equality, resource sharing and humanity today.
He accompanied Neil on a deer hunt in the Wicklow mountains, capturing the expedition on film and also photographed him skinning, butchering and cooking animals.
Claudio described it as 'a whole new experience' and a very interesting way of conceptualising the information he uncovered during research into the 'First Irish' hunter gatherer society which is contained, along with excerpts of Neil's recorded words, in a photo essay publication that he has produced alongside the exhibition.
'People think of it as having been a violent society but it wasn't - there was no sexual inequality, they were not territorial, there was a sharing of resources, things that we have lost as a modern society', said Claudio.
Some viewers may find a few of the images challenging to look at but Claudio points out: ' You go to the supermarket to buy meat, you don't know how those animals have been treated'.
'This type of hunting is very ethical. It's necessary for the environment. The deer population has to be controlled. We have been this way for millenia. It's part of our genetic coding', he said.
At the launch, Neil Motherway gave a presentation on the historical connection and ethics of hunting and he took part in a round table discussion and audience debate with the archaeologist Dr. Stephen Mandal who spoke about the Mesolithic/Neolithic world and those who inhabited it and the transition to the Neolothic era.
This is the second part of an ongoing Heritage Park project that has been made possible through funding from Creative Ireland and Wexford County Council.
The first was called 'Sounding Seams' and involved a collaboration between the musician Laura Hyland and blacksmith Guy Urbin.
The Irish National Heritage Park is enthusiastic about facilitating artists and crafters to work together and is eager to encourage more artistic interpretations of the human history that it presents to the public in the form of an outdoor museum, according to the Park Manager Chris Hayes
'We tell the story of 9,000 years of human settlement on this island mainly through buildings'.
But those buildings were home to our ancestors who had their own culture of identity, music and customs.'
'We need artistic voices in here to challenge what can be a dull historical narrative and to bring it to life', said Chris.
The exhibition is continuing at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig.