The moment between before and after

Years of slowly allowing myself to be outpaced by life’s events and drowning myself in work, to buoy my crumbling id had stopped working. The crash that followed seemed sudden, but had been years in the making. 

This body of work takes place in what could be described as; a dead cat bounce on the way down. The photographs were made during a Christmas journey from Northern Ireland — Spain — Northern Ireland, to be with family. Something we had done many times before, yet this one was different and felt like it would be my last.

My greatest fear at the time was stopping long enough to pay attention to what was happening in my head, but this time the cheese had definitely slipped off the cracker.

A couple of days later, the holidays were over and I returned to my job as a university lecturer. It didn’t take long before my voice started to go. I could barely talk. Not in an emotional sense, there was just a quiet rasp. I dismissed the class, informed my boss and headed to the doctor. That was it the beginning of the after and my last lecture.

Afterward

In the end that last lecture was by choice. Not back then when I thought I would just be gone for a couple of weeks. However by the time I had recovered and my head was screwed back on, our lives had all changed: We relocated to Spain, Covid-19 happened, I completed an MFA in Photography at Belfast School of Art. 

The support of my employer Ulster University was awesome, my sick leave became a career break and they kept the door wide open for me. I couldn’t have asked for more.

In the fifteen or so years I had lived in Northern Ireland I was never much at ease. It’s a great place and there are some fabulous people whom I love and miss very much, but when you are really home you can feel the difference in your bones. Being happy and feeling at home is a fragile luxury. Some things can’t be unfucked, you just have to accept it and make the best of the moment you are in. String together enough successfully completed moments and you have a life worth living. 

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Conánn Fitzpatrick Alvarez-Casado

Photography, Art & Design