Through her socio-political art practice research, Dunsmore discovered the source images for The Peoples Portraits 1899-1918 (2018). A hoard of glass plate negatives, B/W and colour film photographs, kept in the attic of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Training College in County Down, Northern Ireland. Dunsmore concentrated on the glass plate negatives and selected 100, from over 3000, originally taken at Armagh prison by two prison officers, trained as photographers; P. Egan and M. Cronin.

The Peoples Portraits 1899 - 1918, (2018)

Most of the people depicted had never been photographed and the individual portraits direct gaze seems to bridge time, connecting with the audience of the present. The distance of time lifts prisons negative associations, humanity is reassigned through the perspective of time.

The Peoples Portraits 1899-1918, 2018. Installation view KEEPER exhibition at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 2018.
Installation view 'A Matter of Time', Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 2024. Photographer Jed Niezgoda

Dating from the 1890’s, all the individuals depicted in this artwork lived before the partition of Ireland in 1921, at a time when the nation state of Ireland, did not exist. Ireland was part of the English, and then British, Empire for over 700 years. Structures, policies and ethnocentric ideologies were formulated in colonial Ireland and later transferred to other parts of the British empire.

The Peoples Portraits 1899-1918, 2018. Installation view KEEPER exhibition at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 2018.
Installation view KEEPER solo exhibition at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 2018. Photographer Ros Kavanagh.

The Peoples Portraits 1899-1918, 2018. Edition of 3, + 1 AP. Edition 1, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.