Biography: Alen MacWeeney was born in 1939 and educated in Dublin. He began his photographic career at the age of 16, as a press photographer for the Irish Times. In 1961, he went to New York to work as an assistant to Richard Avedon. During that period he also studied with the renowned graphic designer Alexey Brodovitch at the “Design Lab” in New York. Based in New York since then, he has worked as an editorial and commercial photographer. The majority of his work consisting of studio and environmental portraits, fashion and travel for editorial, corporate and advertising assignments. He has also undertaken numerous personal photographic projects as well.
His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Travel+Leisure, Fortune and numerous other periodicals and books. He has received awards of excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Advertising Club of New York, the Art Directors Club, the Society of Publication Designers and the Advertising Photographers of America.
Ireland has been the center of his personal photographic projects. The photo essays he created there include: “Portraits of the Catholic Clergy” (1962-63), images reflecting the poetry of W.B. Yeats (1965-66), “The Conflict in Northern Ireland” (1971) and “Stone Walls” (1984-1986). The last project led him to another aspect of Irish life and the beginning of a deep involvement with Irish “Travellers”.
From 1965 to 1971, he photographed “Travellers” extensively in Dublin and the West of Ireland. Portfolios of the work were published in among others Creative Camera (1967), Aperture (1980), Ais Eiri (1981) and Photographers International (1996). During his time spent with the “Travellers” he tape-recorded a substantial amount of the oral history, music and songs of the “Travellers”. He produced an LP record of the music entitled “Travelling People of Ireland” (Lyrichord New York 1967) and collaborated on the book “Puck of the Droms” with Artelia Court (University of California Press 1986). A limited edition portfolio of his work created during his time spent with the “Travellers” was published by The Hyperion Press, New York 1982.
His book “Irish Travellers, Tinkers No More,” which was awarded National Heritage Grant in 2004, is currently in production with Channel Photographics, NY and is due for release in spring 2006. A CD of folktales and songs of a “Traveller” family was released in 2003 and double CD anthology of the music is currently being prepared for the Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin.
The “Traveller” photographs were exhibited at the National Photographic Archive in Dublin, in October 2000 and at the Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, in 1996. The photographs were also the central theme of a feature length documentary film, Traveller, which Alen co-directed with John T. Davis. It was produced by Littlebird, Dublin and broadcasted by RTE in Ireland (2002) and by the BBC (2003).
(Source Steven Kasher Gallery)