In this new body of work,Beyond Maps and Atlases, Bertien van Manen turns to Ireland. Van Manen says, ‘At first, working in Ireland I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. My husband had died. I dispensed with the people and reflected on the atmosphere. I was guided by a feeling and a search, a longing for some kind of meaning in a place of myths and legends. There was mystery and endlessness at the edge of a land beyond which is nothing but a vast expanse.’
Where can it be found again, An elsewhere world, beyond Maps and atlases, Where all is woven into And of itself, like a nest Of crosshatched grass blades? Seamus Heaney
Van Manen rolled into photography almost by accident, taking pictures of her children with an old camera. As her work became more public she was soon drafted into the world of fashion photography. In 1977 she tired of the industry, and on discovering the documentary photography of Robert Frank and Josef Koudelka, van Manen began to explore the developing relationship between herself and her subjects, keeping a closeness and developing a personal, organic style of photography.