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Published on Jul 30, 2012
Author and producer Don Mullan gives a moving speech at the launch of The Seán Hillen Collection of photographs exhibition at The National Library of Ireland Photographic Archive, 26th July 2012. The recording begins a few seconds in to the speech. Don is quoting Seamus Heaney's lines on the photographs: "The photographs are like black and white time machines that bring back the desolation and danger of the Troubles. The images have a documentary accuracy, but it is the aura of melancholy witness that marks them as the work of Seán Hillen." The collection is of around 600 B/W 35mm documentary photographs made by the artist Seán Hillen of subjects in the North of Ireland between 1979 and 1990. The collection was acquired by the NLI Photo Archive in 2011. An unusual acquisition being from a living artist, the collection is described by Elizabeth Kirwan Director of the Archive as "a significant addition" to the Archive which comprises over 6 million images including the Lawrence and the Independant Newspaper Collections. Several of the photographs were actually used at the time as source material by Hillen for his well-known photomontage works from the period, but the original photos have never been exhibited together before. The exhibition continues in Temple Bar Dublin until 30th September 2012.