What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Edward Brydon, I am from Bedford Hills, but originally from the UK. I was born in England to an Irish mother, and an English father. They moved to Wales fairly early in my life, so I have some Welsh roots, as I was brought up in Wales for a while. I’m sort of a bunch of things.
What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m here with a group of photographers, for an Artist Round Table, led by Ray Ketcham, and within that, and the talks about voice, vision, style and the things that pertain to photography, I have also come here to work on a project that looks at the Irish community in New York. So that is specifically looking at the culture, traditions, and activities of the people, mainly those who have come here within the last few years, together with the community that has already been here from the generations previously, to see how people integrate into those communities, and what of the culture from back home they bring within them, to hold on to when they’re here: religion, sports, dance, arts, theatre, poetry. In a way it’s kind of looking to see whether those Irish who emigrated are almost more Irish than the Irish themselves. It’s like if you’re in the culture day to day, you’re used to things either because you did them or your parents forced you to do them because it’s what they did, and if you’d stayed there, you’d say, ‘oh no, I’d never have my kids do that’, but because you emigrated, you want to hold on to that because it’s a part of your culture, and a part of tradition, and part of your cultural identity. So when you have left the country, do you hold on to that more strongly than you would have if you’d stayed there? It’s sort of a way of compensating with the situations that brought them here. So I’m approaching that in a visual manner, and I think timing’s important right now, since 2008, Ireland is undergoing another huge emigration of it’s 20-somethings because of the economic crash, and the lack of job prospects back home. I think it’s like 20 percent of those in their age have left the country.
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
We’ve been utilizing a lot of the property. We’ve used a bunch of different rooms, and it’s been really invaluable to us to be able to move around. So being in one place, one room, doesn’t tire the discussion all the time. Especially when we’re not here to take pictures. We’re here to discuss projects, discuss photography, discuss next steps, and how that pertains to us. So it’s a lot of conversations, and so being able to move around has been invaluable. In addition to that, being able to get quiet time alone, I’m particularly drawn to water, so I’ve spent a lot of time down by Peach Lake on my own, just to let those discussions sink in, percolate, or even just give your brain some space away from it.
What’s coming up next for you and your project?
For me, I’ll take what was given to me at the salon [where photographers meet and analyze each other’s work], and now I’m going to look at a bunch of different events to go to, to photograph. So I primarily focused on sports culture in the Irish community; that was a way in for me because I’m familiar with that. I played rugby, so I knew a rugby team was here [in the U.S.] so I was able to get in that way. But now I’m going to look more at the arts, and theatre, dance, etc. but also people in their office and family environments, and community centers. So there are two Irish community centers in New York City: one in The Bronx, and one in Queens, and just seeing the activities that go on there, meeting people, understanding what’s going on, and then making photographs in those situations. The goal is a book, to document the Irish community at this time. So it’ll be a historical record, a visual record. The primary audience is the Irish community here, in New York and the Irish community back in Ireland. So I would like to have some shows as well. I’ll be looking to exhibit in community centers, places that are more accessible to the public. Not that a gallery isn’t accessible, but that’s where people choose to congregate.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, what farm animal would you be and why?
I don’t know why a cow keeps popping into my head, but I’d have to say a cow. Why? There’s something about the serenity of cows, standing around, chewing the cud. It’s a very thoughtful process, it seems. I kind of enjoy that. I’m not an aggressive person, so I wouldn’t want to be a bull or a bullock, that’s more aggressive.