When a group of Irish surgeons planned a mercy trip to a children’s hospital in Vietnam Ruth Kelly asked to be allowed to go to make a photographic record of the venture. The dramatic images she brought back formed the basis of her talk to the Club on Friday evening. It was standing room only at the Ward Avenue venue as Ruth and her colleague Patsy Reilly from the Drogheda Camera Club shared their pictures and their photographic philosophies with their County Down fellow enthusiasts.
Ruth’s panel depicted the Irish doctors passing on their knowledge and expertise to their Vietnamese counterparts in Ho Chi Minh city. Many of the images showed young children before and after surgery as she was granted full access to the operating area in the hospital. The impact of the trauma felt by close members of the children’s families was particularly touching and was brought to life graphically by her use of monochrome.
India was the canvas for another of Ruth’s social presentations; her pictures of rural life brought home the close family ties of poor people ,scratching out a living in very basic conditions but somehow maintaining an optimistic and friendly outlook . With sacred cows and other animals sometimes sharing the mud- walled dwellings the images were at times stark but her sympathetic lens managed to capture an underlying serenity in the unforgiving landscape.
Patsy Reilly stayed at home in Ireland for some of his selection of prints and slides. He has,so far resisted the attractions of the digital age, preferring the feel of the film sprocketing through the camera and the pungent aromas of the dark room to the computer and its software. His images recalled visits to fairs and markets and portraits of the expressive characters still to be encountered at these gatherings. He investigated the interiors of old cottages and churches and chronicled the inhabitants of the oldest street in his native Drogheda before switching scenarios to Romania and his ongoing love of that country and its people. During many visits he has won the trust of the locals and has been able to mix freely in their everyday lives and celebrations. Church services and weddings , blacksmiths at work and misty mornings over forests provided picturesque subjects for his panoramic lens and his inquisitive mind. From further afield he also displayed his pictorial recollections of Prague, New York and Cuba .