MIDLANDS | Book Launch | Gallery of Photography

"These photographs reveal the pure ahistoricity of their moment, when the idea of property was its own end, and the midlands a blank canvas on which those desires could be made and sold. Cregg’s careful, continual observation, distilled over years, means that Midlands tells a minimal and powerful story of clearance, building and dereliction." 

- Colin Graham, Author of "Northern Ireland: 30 years of Photography" 

Over a ten year period Martin Cregg's ‘Midlands’ has explored the physical transitions which are as a direct consequence of the National Spatial Strategy for Ireland (2002-2020). The disputed territory of 'The Midlands' was allocated a number of major strategic infrastructural projects - an inter-triangulation of “gateways” and “Hubs” in the interior were designed to kick-start an economic revival and encourage a dynamic regeneration and re-population of what was seen as a potential core area of the country. 

Throughout the cycles of economic and cultural change, from 2004 until the NSS was abandoned in late 2013, 'Midlands' mapped and represented the narrative of erasure, construction, abandonment and change in and on the landscape.

While ‘Midlands’ represents topographic alterations which were both subtle and monumental, minute and large scale over this period of time, the work also represents the porous nature of the imagined borders of the region itself, questioning the very concept of what the ‘Midlands’ is - an undetermined geographical entity, under constant construction and re-definition.

The Book is limited to an edition of 200, with text by Colin Graham and design by Read That Image. The cost of the book on the night of the launch is 4oEuros. All Welcome. 

EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1471456889824634/
BOOK SALES: http://www.martincreggphotography.com/Martin_Cregg_midlands_book_presales_and_order.html

News & Events | Spring 2015

 'Midlands' exhibited at Illuminations Gallery NUIM University of Maynooth (Feb 2015) 
Midlands was also recently featured on new Italian Magazine 'Eyes Open' (Jan 2015)

'Midlands' as part of Naked City Projects 'Multipli-Cities' Exhibition in Rome (Feb 2015) 
NAKED CITY PROJECT | http://www.nakedcityproject.com/

'A Fading Landscape' as part of HOME Exhibition, Lexicon Gallery, Dun Laoghaire  and Opening at Hive Emerging Gallery, Waterford -  as part of 'Breaking Sensation' group exhibition 

'The Photo Course' featured on the brilliant YET Magazine (Feb 2015) 

'Midlands' (2004 - 2014) @NUIM 'Illuminations' Gallery, Feb 2015

In February 2015 an event will take place at NUIM 'Illuminations' Gallery to mark ten years of the 'Midlands' project. Curated by Colin Graham, the event will include discussions surrounding issues that the work raises and will also be the proposed launch of the new 'Midlands' book.More Details on the NUIM Website.



A recent Interview with Urbanautica can be found on their website. Thanks to Steve Bisson.


M I D L A N D S | 2004 - 2014

The on-going ritual of photographing the transforming landscape of the Midlands region has been an important feature of my life. The project started when I was a student in 2004 and took pace when I returned home to Roscommon for a prolonged spell in 2006. There was, initially and throughout, something compulsive and enriching about this self-directed commission. It offered a sense of purpose and vocation. I carried with me a strong sense of mission and a deep obligation to experience, document and record the physical changes that were happening, at a disorderly rate, around my home town and subsequently, as the project expanded over the years, in the broader midland region itself.  I was young, naive, clueless to many of the complexities of the medium, poor in technique, but strong in my intentions. There was an overpowering urgency to travel, to take risks, to simply make work. It somehow just made sense. Caught up in a kind of maelstrom of change in my part of rural Ireland, I found a reason to use a camera. I found a necessity to explore and understand, within the act of photography, something about our contemporary relationship to landscape, geography, our identity and our rapidly changing culture.  

While the motivation to photograph began with a personal need to confront and understand these transformations in familiar towns and landscapes, the framework of the eventual project Midlands evolved around the 20-year economic development plan – the National Spatial Strategy, which was announced in 2002 and forcefully implemented throughout the following years. Under the NSS, the disputed territory of The Midlands was allocated a number of major strategic infrastructural projects designed to transform, regenerate and re-populate the region. Investment in infrastructure and foreign direct investment were to be directed towards the creation of nine interior “gateways” and a nine inland “hubs” which it was proposed would promote a prosperous and more balanced national development, facilitate inward investment, stimulate and support indigenous growth, produce sustainable development and create more vibrant interconnected townships. Through a polycentric planning model inspired by the 'Triangle Region' in Denmark, the plan was to put some shape on spatial planning in regional Ireland, pump it with investment and draw our expanding population into the interior.  This overarching framework was put in place to guide planning decisions by local and statutory authorities alike. The overall strategy spoke volumes about the Government’s commitment to “proper planning” and “sustainable development”. The National Spatial Strategy has however never materialized into the pipe dreams of the Celtic Tiger years and subsequently, in 2013, it was finally abandoned. Its legacy has a much documented geography of failure - abandoned housing estates, industrial units, wastelands which have provided visuals to the narrative of economic recession that Ireland has experienced over the last number of years.

Over a ten year period ‘Midlands’ has explored and mapped the physical transitions which are as a direct consequence of the promise of the National Spatial Strategy, and the physical effects of the failures of this plan. Throughout the cycles of economic and cultural change, I have charted and represented the changes in and on the landscape - from the promise of progress, through the frustrations of stagnation and subsequently to the anguish of collapse. Through this time, I have attempted to express the cyclical processes of erasure, construction, abandonment and decay that are evident on the rural landscape. While ‘Midlands’ represents topographic alterations which were both subtle and monumental, minute and large scale over this period of time, the work also represents the porous nature of the imagined borders of the region itself, questioning the very concept of what the ‘Midlands’ is – an undetermined geographical entity, under constant construction and re-definition. 

A Busy 2012

Selected Works & Artist talks in Perugia (July 2012)
Guest Lecture at Burren College of Art (March 2012)

'Utopia' - contribution to this beautiful publication by Actes Sud

'Foreign Eyes on Fryslan' exhibited at the Natural History Museum, Leeuwarden (August 2012) 

 'Utopia' exhibited at Les Rencontres d'Aarles (July - August 2012)

Shortlist for Irish Contemporary Award SHOWCASE in The Gallery of Photography (December 2012 - Jan 2013)

'Midlands' Featured in the publication 'Photography & Ireland' by Justin Carville, Reaktions Press

'The Photo Course' featured in Source Magazine (Issue 72)

Selected for FORMAT Festival 2013

Articles & Mentions: 

A mention of Utopia on Italian Magazine IO DONNA:

A Piece about Reflexions exhibition in La Journal De La Photographie:

Article about SHOWCASE in Irish Arts Review: http://www.irishartsreview.com/index.php/articles/326-showcase-select-at-the-gallery-of-photography

'The Photo Course' on ACMV:

'A Fading Landscape' on FEATURESHOOT:

'A Fading Landscape' on ARGON:

A short piece on SURFACE SURFACE blog: