The Michael Keane black & white photographic exhibition at the Index Gallery in Lady Lane Library, Lost Generations, is a timely reminder of the lost generations, lost heritage, the lost iconic brand image of mouth blown, hand crafted crystal of the Glass Factory. In a way, it balances out the necessary hype of the new House of Waterford Crystal on The Mall. Yes, let us embrace the future but we must not forget our roots and social heritage. Keane’s powerful images of loss, abandoned premises incomplete glass objects, a floor strewn with files and a 2007 diary, or carborundum wheels dumped in a skip. People, the lost generations, are vanishing, shutter-speeded out by photographic technique, airbrushed out of a place of work, a place of purpose and pride.
One striking image is the marks left in the Kilbarry Visitor Centre wall of the Waterford Crystal silver logo (now restored on the Mall) or the equally iconic Seahorse logo on a door looking into a room where a person is fading out of the picture. There is sadness in the shots of abandoned machines, bare factory floors, silence and loss, light and desolation.
It strikes me, viewing these images of the immense loss and deep trauma this city and its people have suffered and this sadness will remain and at times fester in the creative memory and psyche of something that was once unique to Waterford and is now memory hurt and a commercial history lesson and a commercial enterprise on the Mall.
Michael Keane has captured the hopes and sadness and indeed the silent, almost forgotten people of the lost generation or worse still, the abandoned generations.