Clare Lyons

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every saturday the child must go, removed from one life and placed into another.
a forced relationship and a feigned connection.

there are only trees here: the bleak forested landscapes of the housing estates they walked, the only witnesses to this time. no recreation and minimal effort.

the rest of the week, living as someone else. someone longing for another's name.
a welcome relationship and true connection. the one eventually chosen.

for years, using hands to make sense of what happened. talking and making, attempting to heal, attempting to understand. the link between craft and catharsis grew deeply ingrained and entangled roots.

and then one day, a conversation. the abscission, the severance.

just like that, leaving one life behind, but forever haunted.




Every Saturday / (1993-present)
The work to date looks at the relationship I had with my biological father, in light of the discovery that I have two Birth Certificates on file in the Irish Civil Registry System.

Through cathartic processes of childlike crafting which were introduced to me at an early age during therapy and counselling, I create new documents and assemblages which demonstrate the desire to regain control; over my own sense of self, and over a time when I felt I had none. I incorporate ephemera from the landscapes where my father and I spent time together on those court ordered Saturdays to create new documents and assemblages which reflect such processes of working through trauma by creating and making.

Along with this, I have revisited my family archive. In these documents, the other half of my life is recorded. My family and I. My mother and I. My Dad and I. While this archive is completely devoid of any trace of my biological father's physical presence, and my own memory incapable of recalling his form, I have unearthed visual clues and triggers in the photographs which allude to his haunting presence in my life. Through this reflective process of revisiting and re-appropriating both photographs and documents, I weave a narrative that finally speaks for this little girl, my younger self, who was desperate to align herself with one identity, one family, and one Dad.

Despite being born out of what has felt like unresolved trauma and a sense of conflicting identities, the project has in many ways become a celebration. Not only of my own resilience in the face of my experiences, but also of the Dad I chose and the love he had for me which has never faltered.

/ Installation shot from A Lightness of Touch at Belfast Exposed Photography, curated by Deirdre Robb and included on the programme of the Belfast Photo Festival 2021.