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Walter Pfeiffer Photography Exhibition at UCC Library: Home

UCC Library is thrilled to host a captivating exhibition featuring a group of landscape photographs taken in Connemara by German born photographer Walter Pfeiffer.
Landscape taken in Connemara, Ireland.
Landscape taken in Connemara, Ireland. Golden light, water through grass.
Landscape taken in Connemara, Ireland.

Walter Pfeiffer Exhibition at UCC Library

University College Cork (UCC) Library is proud to announce the significant acquisition of photographer Walter Pfeiffer’s archive. To celebrate this extraordinary addition to the collections UCC Library is thrilled to host a captivating exhibition featuring a group of landscape photographs by Pfeiffer taken in the storied region of Connemara. The set of images in this exhibition evoke themes of German Romanticism, which embraced a profound connection to nature, viewing it as a source of inspiration, beauty, and spiritual renewal. 

The exhibition opens with a reception on 11 April, at 5:00 p.m. in the Boole Library, University College Cork. 

Walter Pfeiffer spent much of his life photographing the Irish landscape. Originally born in Germany in 1943, he received his first camera when he was 11 years old and traveled to Ireland for the first time at age 20. After relocating to Dublin, he established himself as one of the leading fashion and food photographers, but his passion was the land—the light and its colour. He focused especially on Connemara, Wicklow, and Luggula, the latter a picturesque estate renowned for its stunning natural beauty and historical significance, which served as a retreat for generations of prominent figures.   

In his book Connemara and Beyond published in 2005 Walter Pfeiffer describes his experience of photographing Connemara as a renewed and unique adventure each time, even though the landscape itself had grown so familiar. The slightest change of light, a small shift in the wind transformed the scene to be captured in mere seconds: “[...] the light and sounds of the place unique once more, its clouds parting and thickening, only to then drift away, as if ordered by a celestial choreography.” The book also features poems by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Moya Cannon, which echo Pfeiffer’s pictures beautifully. 

Many writers and visual artists have drawn inspiration from the Irish countryside. W.B. Yeats said about Connemara: "There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't yet met", which encapsulates the warmth and hospitality often associated with the people of Connemara and reflects Yeats's admiration for the region's welcoming spirit and sense of community. Pfeiffer’s landscapes in contrast are void of human presence, the photographer himself standing in as the solitary figure contemplating nature, as is often seen in German 19th century paintings for example by Caspar David Friedrich. 

Inspired by the idealization of nature, the exploration of the human psyche, and a longing for spiritual transcendence, German Romanticism encompassed a diverse array of disciplines, including literature, philosophy, music, and visual arts. Figures like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, and Ludwig Tieck captured the ethos of the era through their works, which often celebrated individualism, imagination, and the sublime. Embracing the mysterious and the irrational, German Romanticism left an indelible mark on Western culture, influencing subsequent generations of artists and thinkers. 

From its ancient Celtic heritage to its role in Ireland's struggle for independence, Connemara's landscape is intertwined with stories of resilience, tradition, and folklore. In addition to showcasing the natural beauty of Connemara, this exhibition inadvertently draws attention to the environmental challenges facing the region. Climate change, habitat loss, and the pressures of tourism are threatening Connemara's delicate ecosystem, underscoring the urgent need for conservation and sustainable practices. 

The exhibition will be on display in UCC Library from 11 April to 21 June, 2024, open to the public every day from 7:30am to 1:30am.  

Do not miss this opportunity to experience the enchanting world of Connemara through the lens of Walter Pfeiffer.