Jeanette Lowe is a visual artist from Dublin who works mainly in photography. For the past 10 years, she has worked as a full-time artist, but prior to that, she worked in communication and IT, and she also has a background in marketing and design.
” Photography has run right through my life, I have always been interested in it, but 10 years ago I just decided that I would focus primarily on that”.
Why did you decide to look at Pearse House?
“Pearse house was a very personal project, my grandmother was one of the first residents in the 1930s. My mother was raised there until she got married and then we moved out to Drimnagh”.
Even though Jeanette never visited the flats because she no longer had family living there. When she returned in 2009 to begin taking photographs, she had her own preconceptions about the flats based on the media coverage she had seen over the years.
“But I met a lady who had been in school with my mother, and I discovered that it wasn’t the transient community that I thought it might would be in the inner city and was actually a very old community living almost invisibly in the heart of the city”.
“The flats: Memories, Perception, Reality” is a photographic exhibition from 2012, where Jeanette captured with her lens the people, the everyday life and the environment of the Pearse House apartment complex in Dublin Inner City. This exhibition was held in one of the Flats in Pearse House, Dublin 2.
What drew you to photograph demolishing places?
After the Pearse House project, Dublin City Council was interested in Jeanette’s work. They showed her a lot of support because it was a very interesting project since Jeanette’s purpose was always to give a positive perspective as opposed to the media coverage which had always been negative about the inner city.
They asked her to participate in a community project on Charlemont Street whose flats were being demolished at the time:
“I have to say that I like recording demolitions because in some ways is easier when you don’t have to interact and just you go in and lose yourself with a building and maybe you try to visualise the community that lived there”.
What about exhibiting at the Five Lamps Arts Festival?
Last year, 2020, as part of Five Lamps Arts Festival Jeanette was invited to be involved through an exhibition of photographs which she calls “My disappearing Dublin” about a series of demolitions around the city, mainly social housing.
Also, she was going to collaborate in a project with Dublin Port to photograph some of the old dockers:
“My exhibition in CHQ, would had been mainly photographs but I also wanted an installation as part of that because I think the demolition in the city is very closely related to the housing crisis in the city and I wanted in some ways just reference that, I suppose for the year we are in”.
These exhibitions were postponed due to Covid-19, but they will be rescheduled during 2021.
She collaborated with other artists on one piece for the postponed CHQ exhibition as she always likes to bring someone who can add to her exhibitions whether is through a painting, collage, installation, etc. In this case was Anto Whelan who was born in Pearse House and who paints as a hobby, displaying his paints on Sundays in Marrion Square.
What is your vision of the community?
When Jeanette’s mother was growing up in the flats, there was a progression of where you would go after that. At some point they were offered a flat in town, but her father decided to build his own house, and it wasn’t easy as he had to work very hard but he did it, and all her aunts and uncles moved out as well to the suburbs and when she had the exhibition a lot of those people came down to the exhibition,
“They never had a reason to come back before and that it was an unexpected thing about the exhibition, and when they came back, they talked about how positive the community was, as somebody said to me ‘We had nothing, but we had community’”.
To learn more about Jeanette Lowe watch the video below and visit her website.