[slidepress gallery=’patrickhogan_solitaryhalfmad’]

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Patrick Hogan

Solitary, Half Mad

play this essay

A photographic short story.

When I began this essay, I decided to move from the urban area where I had been living to a small cottage in rural Ireland.  I was interested in people who lived alone.

For six months, I took pictures around the area.  Mostly, I photographed rooms where people lived or died on their own.

I became interested in the capacity we have as people for isolation, and how romantic ideals of solitude and escapism are often more fantastical than reality can offer.

This short essay is about living alone and the relationship between reality and fantasy.


Patrick Hogan is an Irish photographic artist. He currently lives and works in the south-east of Ireland. He is the winner of the Dublin Gallery Of Photography Artist Award 2011 for his project ‘Solitary, Half Mad’, a photographic short story about isolation in rural Ireland. He was also shortlisted for the Winter Solo Show Award, 3rd Ward Gallery in New York in 2010. He is currently taking part in the photographic project ‘Graphic Intersections V. 02’. He completed two International artist-in-residence programs in Iceland in 2009. He self-published his first photographic book in 2010. He will be exhibiting nationally and internationally throughout 2011.

Related links

Patrick Hogan

Interview about Solitary, Half Mad

47 thoughts on “patrick hogan – solitary half mad”

  1. Hi Patrick,I love solitude and your images touch me .I would love to be there and look at the sky at night,Great job.

  2. The beautiful photo 1-3-5-9 really convey a sense of solitude. The animals in the night let me think about loneliness in a wild area, but sometimes people can be alone even in an urban environment, big cities or suburbs…

  3. Very nice. I would have preferred all color, no b&w. Would have preferred titles or captions. Not both. But those are small things. Enjoyed the story and photographs.


    Oh… and goddamn! thats a big red stag!!

  4. Love the color pallete, especially the way it works in 1, 3, 9….probably those alone give me a sense of the solitude….also like 8, but it’s different. Not sure about the B&W of the animals at night, they through me out of the rhythm of the essay, it seems…but would love to see them in color the way 7 and 8 are…

    I’m with John G, 1-3-9 do it for me.


  5. “As a child, they could not keep me from wells
    And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
    I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
    Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

    One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
    I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
    Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
    So deep you saw no reflection in it.

    A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
    Fructified like any aquarium.
    When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
    A white face hovered over the bottom.

    Others had echoes, gave back your own call
    With a clean new music in it. And one
    Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
    Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

    Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
    To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
    Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
    To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

    –Seamus Heaney, ‘Personal Helicon”

    I too love the damp and dick-whittened moss and match’d loom of darkness: the stick-stunned night, the viscous space that surrounds the lone, alone, the cavern between rationed sight and unreasonable sound. it is all there, spent and parsed alone, the wick and well that brings forth us and them. The how of why we make things. So, no wonder that I love this essay. It means all those things to me…

    My only lament is that it is too fucking short, too pretty and clean in it’s haiku state: give me more of this madness Patrick, give me more of these deleriously lit and magnificently bitten-off photographs. I love this gorgeous unreal, preternatural light you’ve carved up in the color pictures and i love, absolutely love their painterly beauty. Though, please do not mistake me when i refer to them as painterly, which they are. I do not mean the usual bollocks by which people talk about photographs as ‘painterly.’ As a painter who left painting behind to make photographs/drawings, I often cringe when i read that description, because it is usually a reference to ‘color’ or even ‘composition.’ Painting is about light and about the physicality of texture, both light and pigment. Your color photographs are indeed beautifully and intelligently composed and gorgeously rendered with light, but it is the light of physical impression. All that space texturing…the gorgeous emptiness of the first photograph and that shed looming like a broken-hearted animal walking out of the woods, or a woodsmen who’s filled by ache…and i too love 1, 3, 5, 9….they are the strongest ‘singles’ (fuck, i hate that word), and stand out in both their formal beauty but also their iconographic power…each of them are mini stories in themselves…fairy tales really…ghosts and gobblins and loss and all those creatures in the night and at the bottom of the wells…

    but i love the red stag picture and the pig…not for the b/w, but because they’re both a contradiction and an obvious point: they’re part of this ‘person’s dream (the color pics real, the b/w dreams from the sleeping man in the woods)…i love how they work as opposite, dream signs for the waking narrative (color)….but i want more more…

    don’t give me 9 pictures (that’s way too cute ;)) ), give me a delerium of pictures, give me what it really feels like to be alone….for a long time….

    i’ve done that, it’s a mess…it’s a beautiful, magnificent, mess…and it breaks the heart…and it rebuilds the heart and mind…

    this is a fantastic story and a great example of how i wish more would just suck upon the juicey meat of their imaginations rather than just go out into the world and shoot pictures…DREAM OF PICTURES, DREAM UP A STORY…that is the world…

    gorgeous stuff Patrick, now expand this story already…please! :))))


    p.s. this story has heaney’s gorgeous earth work all over it :)))

  6. “My only lament is that it is too fucking short”

    Only Bob Black can make that funny.

    As for the essay, I am not moved. There are some nice photos here, but…

  7. Pete.. It’s ok (well…!) to tell us your opinion..
    but u have no reason to keep attacking B.Black..
    Humor is fine, stupidity is NOT..
    and stop pretending u don’t “get” it..
    Ok? Thanks!

  8. Bob is putting a lot of fucking effort to work on his reviews and ideas and never but never he is like putting quick judgements like Me or You or Jim..(love it or hate it or, but…bullshit)..
    Bob works , time for us to follow or shut up as CP would say..ok?
    Enough with the smart ass judgments and enough with your endless bitterness ..
    (oh I know! U don’t know me.. U need my credentials right?)
    Well , none, zero.. No credentials.. Just my intense love for pretty women, photography and drugs..

  9. marcin luczkowski


    Your website shows how this pictures should be shown. I would like to see your exhiition. I love pictures with the mystical quiet I received from..
    Your photography is not easy and that it sould be.

    And I like your paintings. I am even surprised that you call yourself “photographic artist” not The Painter!

  10. Hi Patrick. Provocative work. Some images I might like replaced with others, depending on what else you have in your archive, but overall most of the images were really great in my opinion. Especially thinking about how you mentioned that these may be places that people lived and died in alone.

  11. One thing I learnt a while ago book format does not work in a slideshow format, nor does an exhibition each should be treated and produced within the sensibilities of the media.

    The slideshow does nothing for me but like Marcin the photo installation ( http://www.patrickhogan.ie/ ) looks quite impressive. Great stuff Patrick

  12. Hi Patrick, a chorus of prais…
    I’m so sorry to go in the opposite side but I love to be sincere with you.

    I love the preamble but i find this essay incomplete and underdeveloped.
    Some photos (the animal) are very poor both technically and poeticaly.
    Looking at the first photo I think you have the makings of an artist but you need to focus better the subject…

    far to be loggerheads with you…

  13. I’m left wanting more, so much more. I like both the exhibition format and the Burn slideshow, but anyway I’m quite easy to please.

    BTW Pete cut it out man…the world’s a bad enough place as it is, don’t start staining this magical playground here. I know you really doing it without any negative feelings… just your sense of humour which I’m sure if we were all sitting round the Burn campfire, under a beautiful summer’s night drinking beers we would all be laughing… but online writing is a different beast and humour especially when probably pulling someone else’s leg can be prickly subject. So go back to writing the good stuff we know you can write.

  14. Patrick…

    Those paintings! I’m not sure which I like more the photos or the paintings. Beautiful! :)

  15. Oh, hell. This is horrible – no, Patrick, I do not mean your photo story. I have perfect confidence that it is, in fact, wonderful, or why would it be on Burn? No, what’s horrible is trying to look at these essays on my iPhone. I just can’t judge the pictures from my iPhone. At least, I bought a new pair of sunglasses so I no longer risk snowblindness, but still, the images are very small, I still do not have my reading glasses and the effort to view these blurry little pics leaves me with a headache.

    I suppose I could just forgo commenting until I get back home and can finally view them properly, but at Burn I feel that I have become part of a club the members of which must comment on every essay, even when we have nothing valid to say – which I certainly don’t right now.

    When I get home, I will, indeed, review these essays that I missed even though I looked at them, but by then the discussion will have moved on to other essays and it will be pointless for me to comment again.

    Congratulations, Patrick. Even though I can barely see it – I KNOW its good! I know it!!! And I can tell you’ve got a deer or two or three in it. That’s good, too. I like deer.

  16. Hi Patrick, I saw this exhibition last year in Gallery of Photography in Dublin and can tell how better they look in print. Really enjoyed the images and the concept. Congrats.

  17. PETE:

    i guess then that is why i lamented it then…


    just to repeat, it is a great story and brilliant idea and only would just love to see this expanded cause it really tugged at my head :)))…and by the way, glad that others looked at the exhibition presentation…when we look at work here, i hope/wish that folk would try to see outside the box…maybe it’s cause i’ve exhibited more than been ‘published’ but when i look at something published at Burn i try to see the story in all its incarnations…essay/exibitions/book/stamps on the wall/prints/projections whatever….by the way 2, i love the titles for the pics…

    a gorgeous dream-song in deed

    panos :))))..runnign to teach

  18. Ok ALL, just had a phone conversation with ALEC SOTH on the phone about the POSTCARDS OF AMERICA project.. 5 Magnum photogs will be in San Antonio Texas the 12th of May.. I need to recruit 4 people to assist that day. Alec is in Minneapolis and I’m already here.. So I’m trying to co-ordinate all that from here..
    at 310 745 7005 for further instructions!

  19. ha..
    from the title i thought perhaps a story about freelancing-on-the-road..

    great stuff..
    all felt a little odd until seeing the exhibition pages on yer site..
    and so i’m in agreement with others..
    love it as it is, love to see more of how it is shown on the walls… and more, in general, as our bob said.

    i wonder why many think of the web format as a single-photo frame rather than a wall with possibilities of 2 or 3 photos at a time, and time shift to-boot.
    especially in widescreen, 2 or three images per slide could work well.. or a mosaic building.. more so if there is a leading trace-shadow from image to image as the show moved along.

    i think that approach would suit this piece.

    as an aside – knowing ireland well – there is a romantic notion of solitude for sure.. croft houses.. basic living.. it exists here in norway, where i ended up, as well..


    many thanks..

  20. David B

    “i wonder why many think of the web format as a single-photo frame rather than a wall with possibilities of 2 or 3 photos at a time, and time shift to-boot.
    especially in widescreen, 2 or three images per slide could work well.. or a mosaic building.. more so if there is a leading trace-shadow from image to image as the show moved along.”

    Yes, absolutely.

    Congratulations Patrick. I like this series the more I look at it. I especially like the opening photograph, and the interiors. The animal shots unfortunately don’t seem to fit. They absolutely fit concept wise, but seem to not hold up to the excellence of the other images.
    I agree with Bob about wanting to see more. I would love to see the portraits of the loners you refer to in your interview.

    Solitude is something I’m not personally comfortable with. I dislike being alone. Being alone forces one to spend a lot of time wandering around inside one’s own head, not always a healthy place to hang out from my own experience. Does one come closer to spiritual self-knowledge when alone, or closer to madness?

  21. .. 19 years to the day since my father died..
    most of the time since seems like it was spent half-mad and in solitude, even if self-induced..

    the bitter-sweet delights of perceived ‘solitude’ can be as visceral, rewarding and emotionally rich as any style or choice.. that beautiful little hut in the first shot will have contained all the love and frustrations, banality and excitement as each of our own homes.

    the animals in this piece make complete sense.
    the jar of mustard must have tasted sublime.

  22. gordon :o)
    posted simultaneously..

    it’s something i first thought about at LookBetween last year, when only 3 of us out of the 100 or so exhibitors presented using two or three photos on-screen at once.. myself, lassal and someone who’s name escapes me..

    and that was a full cinema screen format – begging to be used.

  23. thanks for all your comments.

    this work will be part of a larger solo exhibition and book next year. this is all in progress at the moment. there will be more images

    the wall installation on my site is from a recent and smaller exhibition and i agree, works better than the slideshow.

    I think the narrative techniques I’m playing with work best in book form though

    planning the book is becoming the interesting part of this project at the moment..

    thanks again for all the comments.


  24. Bob. yes, 1,3,5,9
    I could be happy here with those only. I am not surprised that this resonates with you Bob. Our interior.

    Though I still want to see the portraits Patrick refers to. I want to look into people’s eyes, and see if I recognize a part of myself there.

  25. Congratulations on your publication in Burn Patrick. Your work touches on some areas that fascinate me: solitary off-road lives, loneliness, night, etc. Essay seems a wee bit short, and, like Michael, I have a bit of a problem with the combo titles/comments. Also not sure about the B&W animal photos, though I like the story-thread; the humour of following the deer and losing it (or being lost) in the woods. Your initial photo of the lit house/shed and spade-handle standing there staking their claim is marvelous; so much so that none of the rest, for me, quite live up to it (though I do like the food/galaxy on the floor). Altogether though, love the freshness and quirkiness (and the offbeat poetry). Bravo.

  26. Patrick,

    Congrats on the fine essay and being published here.

    I love long exposure night shots. The strange plays of color and light that are too subtle for the eye to see in a black night jump to light. I’ve done a few myself, but 1 and 7 are wonderful. The interior shots are very telling as well, especially 5. I am a little confused about the harsh/odd play with B&W and flash.

    FYI – I do like that the edit is this tight. Better to go with a couple too few than a couple too many.

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