In 2022 Stills & Motion ran their first ever residency programme with the young and talented photographer, Fran Rodriguez Casal. In March he spent two weeks on Inis Meáin, the least populated of the Aran Islands, off the West Coast of Ireland. Fran spent a lot of time getting to know the terrain of the island and learning about the local way of life. He saw the place come alive, having previously researched the "historical and mythological" elements of the island. His interest in the geographically unique landscape really comes through in his photography.
I felt very comfortable working in a place that is apparently very monotonous. But if you look long enough you find nuances.
Whilst on the island Fran used his well-practiced techniques to photograph a range of different subject matter. Influenced by this new setting he was also inspired to try some new techniques. "I think the result has been a job that mixes part of my previous projects with a more impressionistic way of working." This style which is somewhat new to Fran can be recognised in the selection of images displayed here from the island.
The aim of this residency is to provide an artist with the time and space to practice and grow their work. Although Fran had done some previous research on Inis Meáin he went into the residency with an open mind and allowed the island to take him on a journey. Working in somewhat isolation had its challenges, and then making sense of the huge array of images taken also had its challenges. After time Fran found patterns in these images, and common themes reoccurring and the work began to come together.
It has allowed me to explore a new way of working that I had been practicing for a long time and at the same time continue to grow as an artist.
Stills & Motion, as a company feel they should be able to give something back annually, if they're in a position to do so. We could give a donation to charity, but this year (and hopefully into the future) have chosen to organise and fund an opportunity for an emerging photographer or filmmaker. Those first few years as a 'working photographer/filmmaker' are hard, and we wanted to try and give a little hand to someone by doing two things: financially supporting them on a trip to a new place that allowed them to focus entirely on their craft and give them any other support they needed whilst preparing for the trip, on the trip or in the aftermath of the trip. With Fran, this support came in the form of several informal chats about his work, how he was preparing himself for the trip, one mid-trip call to see how he was getting on, and finally helping him to think about what next to do with this body of work.
We knew Fran before this project, and have admired his work for some time. So when we decided to do this, we thought he would be a good fit, as for us this was a bit of an experiment. It is our aim to run this again in the future, but from now on to have an 'open call' with a yet to be worked out system for ensuring that the process is as fair as possible to emerging photographers and filmmakers that wish to apply.
- PhotographerFran Rodriguez Casal