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Jesuit napkins feature in exhibition

A photo taken in the Jesuit Community house in Leeson street features in The ‘Life in Still Life’ exhibition in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, running until Monday 23 March 2020. The photo, entitled ‘Napkins’, was taken by Paula Nolan of Messenger Publications as part of a 2013-2014 project on the Jesuit Community in Leeson Street.

It was purchased by the OPW in 2014 for the State Art Collection and chosen by the curators of the ‘Life in Still Life’ exhibition who said at the launch that the decision to include the ‘Napkins’ photo in the exhibition was unanimous.

The ‘Life in Still Life’ exhibition is an annual cross border partnership between the Office of Public Works (OPW) in the Republic of Ireland and the Department of Finance of Northern Ireland (DoF. It has already visited Cookstown and Belfast, and it will conclude its tour at Portumna Castle, Portumna, Co. Galway from late March to May 2020.

Paula Nolan says she is absolutely delighted to have the ‘Napkins’ photograph chosen for this touring exhibition adding, “But I think what fulfils me more than anything is how it shows other people can see and feel what I saw and felt in the image – what inspired me to take the photograph in the first place. In other words, what moved me, moves them. I think it’s a kind of soul communication, and that is very comforting.”

In the exhibition catalogue, there is a note by one of the curators reflecting on the photo which reads: “Regular repetition creates an aesthetic beauty and suggests a calm, orderly life. Yet the empty spaces and removal of names are subtle reminders of the transience of life. There is no vanity here, the only hint of personality is in the
differing folds of the napkins … The photograph expresses to me the sadness of loss.’’ Paula herself notes, “When I look at this photograph taken just six years ago, I cannot help but notice there are so many names now gone to God.”

The exhibition ‘Life in Still Life’ can be viewed in the gallery in the  Ashtown Visitor Centre, Phoenix Park, Dublin 2, until 23 March 2020. Opening Hours: Daily, 9.30 am to 5 pm and admission is free.

Paula is the graphic designer for Messenger Publications. She has worked on many of the books published by Jesuits and colleagues in the Irish Jesuit Province down the years. She also is a guest blogger for the jesuit.ie blog In All Things.  

A keen photographer, more of her work will be on display in a joint exhibition with Michael Corrigan in the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square. The exhibition, entitled ‘Double Exposure’ is open to the public on Thursday and Friday 19-20 March, and Monday 23- Friday 27 March 2020, 12 pm-5 pm.