Standing By

Image: Makeover, 2020. Photo Etching by Miriam Hurley. Documentation by John Beasley. (C) the artist. In a backstage dressing room the actor Andrew Holden transforms into character as Buttons from the 2007 Cork Opera House production of Cinderella.

  • An exhibition by Miriam Hurley at Cork Opera House
  • Summer 2021

Cork Printmakers are delighted to present an exhibition of photoetching prints by the artist Miriam Hurley at Cork Opera House in summer 2021. Captured backstage at Cork Opera House over a number of years, Miriam’s images portray the nervous energy and focus of performers “standing by” for their final call to perform. While audiences and performers alike are still standing by to return to our cultural venues, this exhibition gives viewers a sense of the atmosphere and energy behind the scenes at the beloved Cork Opera House.

While working at Cork Opera House, Miriam Hurley captured her unique perspective of these often-unseen moments on black and white film. By witnessing the solitude that performers experience when given their final call, the artist recorded and portrayed their nervous energy, hidden vulnerability and sense of trepidation. In this body of work, Miriam captures the performers’ focus, internal fear and vulnerability while transforming into their character. She portrays the disarming moment when performers become detached and alone in the moments before they emerge from the wings onto the stage.

The artist states: “as a keen photographer I started taking the photographs for the Cork Opera House in-house productions, these were staged photo shoots to be used as PR in the media to promote the shows. But what really caught my eye was being backstage as actors and performers prepared themselves prior to going on stage in the dressing rooms and in the final moments waiting in the wings before taking to the stage. I knew that I had a unique perspective that only a very few get to see and I wanted to capture these rarely witnessed moments on black and white film. I was able to photograph various performers unobtrusively and while in preparation in a natural way. I felt very privileged to have been part of the process and I am delighted to share it now with the general public”

In 2018 Miriam created the first part of this body of work at Cork Printmakers studios and completed the full body of work during 2020/21. The use of different print techniques, inks and papers gave Hurley the opportunity to rework the photographs, playing with tonal range and texture to capture the true atmosphere experienced when taking the image.

Cork Printmakers present Miriam Hurley’s exhibition Standing By as part of their 30th Anniversary Programme. Established in 1991, Cork Printmakers is a professional print studio, gallery and resource organisation providing artists with facilities and equipment to create artwork through the medium of print. The exhibition can be viewed at Cork Opera House foyer during café opening hours, 8.30am-5pm Monday-Saturday throughout summer 2021. A short film documentary by Colm Walsh accompanies the exhibition and can be viewed here:

View Film Here