His artistic practice focuses on migration and nationhood. He uses different types of photography including aerial (using kites and drones), pinhole (making his own primitive cameras), digital and analogue.
For the last four years Frank has been researching and making work about Scottish migration with a focus on the Highland Clearances. ‘The Far Field’, comprises four photographic series: abandoned settlements in the highlands and islands of Scotland; the Atlantic coast; Scottish settlements in Nova Scotia; deep space. This project began in response to the ‘migration crisis’ of 2015 and reflects on a time in the nineteenth century when migration both from and to Scotland had a huge social impact. The opportunity to take part in the residency programme at Artlink was very timely as it allowed him to expand this project to explore migration from Donegal to Scotland and elsewhere.
The themes he wants to consider during his residency at Artlink include migration to Scotland and the ‘new world’ but also the causes of migration. He'll be visiting sites associated with the Great Hunger and subsequent evictions including Doagh, and Arranmore. Although informed by historical events the work will be an investigation of what Donegal is as a place today.
All four of Frank's grandparents were from Irish families (McElhinney, Gallagher, Durkan, and Brannan). They all died before he was born. Frank says, "My work is typically objective but sometimes the personal raises burning questions. When visiting cleared settlements in the highlands and islands of Scotland I’ve always asked myself the question: where did all the people go? Lately however I’ve started asking myself the question: where did we come from? Although Donegal is my ancestral homeland I do not know it well. Using my camera as a tool of investigation I would like to immerse myself in the landscape of Donegal and discover more about this place where my family came from and then share these discoveries with others through my photographs".
Frank holds a degree in fine art photography and has produced and exhibited a new body of photographic work every year from 2014 through 2019. Most of his work is based on landscape and is informed by his first degree in history. In April 2018 he began writing the only blog dedicated to Scottish photography reviewing other photographers work.
This exchange in association with Streelevel Photoworks http://streetlevelphotoworks.org/ will allow a local artist to be selected to travel to Glasgow in 2020.
Frank McElhinney's Projects