david o'mara


These images are from my latest work entitled 'Erfahrung', the German word for 'experience' as used by Husserl in his phenomenology. It refers to that elusive moment of existence held between perception and the sinking back into oblivion of the past.


For the past ten years I have worked as a painter and decorator in London, both as a means of surviving and also funding my artistic practise. The two roles of artist and decorator are not always easily reconciled, time demands and budgets often lead to a conflict of interests.


My work is described as ‘restoration’, though I began to question the truth of this description. From the beginning you strip back the layers of previous occupants. Cupboards, doors and walls that were later additions are all removed. At every turn and removal you notice the evidence of previous lives, all to be erased and replaced with freshly painted blank surfaces. Everything is pared back to the tabula rasa.


This has a resonance with my own experience: the daily repetition of tasks erodes memory, time is distilled into but a few recollections. I started photographing my working life as a way of recording the disappearing history of the houses and also to combat the erosion of memory through the repetition of work. Both of these ambitions  are ultimately doomed to failure.


The book Erfahrung is a limited edition of 3 hand made books. It is made from an antique book with approx. 40 original tipped in gelatin prints. All hand printed on fibre based paper.