Photographer Rich Gilligan’s series Rituals explores a side of Dublin the tourists don’t see.

Photographer Rich Gilligan’s series Rituals explores a side of Dublin the tourists don’t see.

Rich Gilligan burst onto Huck’s radar with his incredible photobook DIY/Underground Skateparks, in which he spent four years travelling Europe and the US to find homemade skateparks. The book elevated skaters’ secret wood, metal and cement constructions to the level of fine art and showed the creativity and community that exists hidden away from the wider world.

With his latest project Rituals, Rich turned his lens on places much closer to home and focussed on his own city of Dublin. He set out to shoot the project without any agenda or concept guiding him, but found himself drawn to people and situations he felt were unique to Dublin, but not in the obvious picture-postcard sense. Instead Rich photographed a more honest and gritty portrayal of life for the majority of the city’s half a million inhabitants.

Rich will be displaying Rituals as an installation at Drop Everything, a free cultural festival that runs from May 23-25 on Inis Oírr, a tiny island off Galway on Ireland’s Atlantic coast.

When and why did you start shooting pictures?
I first started shooting photos at the age of 15 with my dad’s point & shoot camera. I was only interested in shooting photos of my friends skateboarding in the suburbs of Dublin. I was trying to make these epic skate photos that would make Ireland look like a mid nineties San Francisco but the photos were mostly out of focus and under-exposed with grey skies.

What is it you love about photography?
I love how it gives you access to people and places you would never experience under normal circumstances. I love the immediacy of it. The buzz of watching a print appear on to paper in a darkroom for the first time also really affected me. I’ve been hooked ever since.

What things/subjects/locations are you drawn to in your photography?
People and the landscape are my favourite things to shoot. I’ve always been drawn to documenting subcultures and stuff that is slightly off the radar.

What are you passionate about – interests, hobbies outside of photography – and how does this inform the images you take?
Well, I still skate so that’s obviously been a huge influence over the years but I also find inspiration more and more in music, friends, cinema and the unknown.

Are you trying to tell stories with your images? What are those stories?
I am essentially a story teller but I like to leave things open to the viewers interpretation of each situation. I like when pictures don’t give too much information away. I find that can draw you in even further.

Tell us about Rituals and how you’ll be showing the work at Drop Everything.
Rituals is a collection of photographs made in and around Dublin city centre. My agenda when making this work was to have no agenda and to let go of any clever project ideas I may have had, and instead let the pictures find me. Over time I found myself drawn to locations, people and situations that I felt couldn’t really occur anywhere else other than Dublin. From pigeon fanciers in Ballymun to the leftovers of a burnt out motorbike just off Meath Street, these photographs are quiet observations of the daily rituals of the Dublin I know and the people that give it its character.

I plan on exhibiting the work in a really raw way by wallpapering the images directly onto the wall. I’ll also be playing around with scales by presenting the photographs in different sizes and mixing up  black & white with colour work. I’m really looking forward to working on the installation.

How do you hope viewers respond/engage with your photography?
I hope they either love it or hate it.

What are your plans for the future?
I’m moving to New York this summer with my wife Petria and our beautiful baby girl Robyn, so that should be a fun experience. I plan on just working as hard as I can and exploring new avenues as they present themselves. Some skateboarding on greasy tarmac will also be on the cards too.

Find out more about Rich’s work and see his incredible Rituals project at the free Drop Everything festival, 23-25 May on the picturesque island of Inis Oírr, a ferry ride from Galway.