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[The Guardian] The big picture: magical realism in everyday Dublin
by The Guardian « on: October 27, 2020, 07:05:04 AM »




The big picture: magical realism in everyday Dublin

Tony O’Shea’s bewitching image, taken on the upper deck of a city bus, finds the magic in the everyday

The Irish writer Colm Tóibín was first introduced to the photographs of Tony O’Shea when he was an editor at a magazine called In Dublin back in the late 1970s. O’Shea was in the habit of coming to the magazine’s office every other Friday with a cardboard box containing a fortnight’s black-and-white prints, pictures he’d taken around the city’s streets. The photographs, Tóibín observed, in the introduction to their landmark collaborative book of 1990, Dubliners, “were like nothing I’d ever seen”. He looked forward to O’Shea’s arrival, and each time, though the magazine might be going to press, found himself “taking the cardboard box away with me, looking through the photos again and again on my own and wondering about them”.

It was Tóibín who first sent O’Shea out on Dublin buses for a story to capture the life of the city from the upper deck. You would never say of O’Shea’s pictures that anything was typical of his work, but this photograph taken in 1989 of two boys and the kestrel is a memorable example of the magical realism that he so often seemed to locate in the everyday. Strange animal spirits are everywhere apparent in his pictures: raggedy boys stand on horseback on city streets, hounds are held at bay on misty bogland; in a famous series, Dublin housewives carry Christmas turkeys home from a side-street butcher, heads and necks and beaks dangling at their knees.

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