Loftus: The Hall of Dreams
This joint endeavour reveals the reality behind the ‘Legend of Loftus Hall’ a well-worn ghost story in Ireland about the countries most haunted house. The legends chief spectral protagonist is Lady Anne Tottenham, a woman whose own family tragically refer to as ‘the family ghost’. Loftus Hall is located on the Hook Peninsula on the South coast of Ireland and the photographs cover what was once a part of the Loftus Demesne. This peninsula, only a couple of miles long possesses a particularly dramatic landscape with a decidedly dark history. This small outcrop of land jutting into the Celtic Sea has at least 2 or 3 Ley, or energy lines traversing the landscape. The intersection or ‘node’ of these lines I believe was a site of worship and sacrifice for the Druids. Early Christian monks were drawn to any peninsula in what at the time was considered the Northernmost territories of the known world. They believed that to be close to the endless ocean was to be close to god. And would often set themselves adrift in the ocean in tiny craft in their effort to be close to the creator.
The light on the Hook, which is now the oldest operational lighthouse in the world was founded by one such monk - St. Dubhan in the 5th century. The Vikings tolerated him as he provided safe passage to their settlement of Waterford across the estuary. This wild, windy but beautiful parcel of land is steeped in history. The Normans took control in 1170 in the form of Raymond Le Gros and built Redmond Hall (Raymond - Redmond) in 1350 during the time of the black death. This building was erected on the site of the aforementioned energy line node. In the 1650’s the Hall became Loftus Hall as a result of the Cromwellian confiscations. The Knights Templar also had a settlement immediately North of the peninsula, having fled French persecution in 1307, again establishing its religious and financial value. Oliver Cromwell famously declared he would conquer Ireland by ‘Hook or by Crook’ (Crook is on the other side of the Waterford estuary) and this phrase is now everyday parlance to express determination.
The concept for this work was derived from several meetings with the author Helena B. Scott, it became clear that creatively we were very much on the same wavelength. Although we work in two very different disciplines there was a synergy of vision and description that was impossible to ignore. The task of creating this joint body of work has not been without its difficulties. Finding the right balance between the integration of words and images whilst each retains its own voice has exercised my mind greatly. The finished piece comprises of a clearly defined, gothic novel interwoven with historical fact and images that enable the reader to gain an understanding of the texture of such a charged environment. The written content of the book surrounds a tragic, doomed love affair and explores the peninsulas hidden and disturbing, occult past. The photographs consequently are heavy and brooding in style and I hope to convey the emotional impact of the big open skies and rugged coastline for which the Hook is renowned.