Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m sure many of you are wondering – who the hell is John Cuddihy?
Well, I’m a 58 year old member of the Kilkenny Photographic Society, and unlike many of my illustrious peers here today, I’m the distinction holder of a simple licentiate. Nevertheless, as those of you who know me will confirm, I’m both passionately and terminally addicted to photography.
In addition, I’m a husband, father to three great children and grandad to a delightful little lady. In my day job I’m a fulltime GP with a particular interest in mental health. I read anything to do with modern history and I’m a rather second rate vegetable gardener.
I must say in all humility and sincerity, that I am deeply honoured to embark upon this journey with you as your president. When I first seriously ventured into the wondrous delight that is artistic photography, I must confess that I did so as a means of escape from years of work on committees, sub committees and a national council in the world of academic medicine.
I’m very conscious of the fact that today I step into the shoes of my predecessors especially those of such legendary servants to Irish photography as Sean Casey who was so rightly honoured here this weekend, and more recently Mark Sedgewick. Indeed Mark has gone to great lengths to ease me into this new job and has become a most supportive and trusted companion.
I am further coming to the helm at a time when Irish photography is enjoying a wonderful and well deserved reputation on the world stage. The performances of Dundalk and Celbridge at the FIAP World Club Championships are truly spectacular.
While there is much to celebrate, I cannot get away from the fact that our economic future is seriously challenging to us as individuals, clubs and communities. We must become and remain sensitive to the plight of our fellow club members who have become unemployed or in some cases downright impoverished. I would appeal to clubs to take this to heart and share whatever resources possible in a tactful manner with our less fortunate club colleagues. Likewise let us also keep in mind our elderly and retired colleagues who cannot make it to club meetings. Their ongoing involvement can mean so much to them.
At Council level there is the serious ongoing responsibility of getting and keeping things right for you all. Thankfully I have seen council become much more task driven in the past year. Anyone serving on council actually serves – puts in the work and delivers. We have no room for passengers.
I’ve mentioned the word “serve”. Remember this – I see service as a two way street if it is to be meaningful and successful. In being of service to you, when a problem arises, I need to hear from you in a positive, constructive and solution focussed manner. As many of my patients would confirm, I’m no agony aunt.
And now – Photography which is why we’re all here today!
To quote the French photographer, Elliot Erwitt:
“To me photography is the art of observation. It is at its best in finding something interesting in an ordinary place.
I find it has little to do with the things you see and it has everything to do with the way that you see them”
This is a weekend in celebrating how we see things. Furthermore, creative and artistic photography at its best should achieve the following:
– it should delight
– it should surprise
– it should entertain
– it should challenge
– it should break boundaries and where appropriate, it should throw out the rule book.
Yesterday and today I savoured marvellous examples of these, especially Catherine McBride’s associateship panel based on the theme of childrens’ stories. I would dearly like to take this panel home and is the reason I got out of bed yesterday morning and came here.
I sincerely hope today is the beginning of a long, respectful and productive relationship.