Mary McIntyre was born in Northern Ireland where she lives and works. She graduated Master of Fine Art in 1990 at the at the University of Ulster at Belfast where she is a Reader in Fine Art.
Mary McIntyre’s photographs often present spaces and places that have been forgotten and overlooked. The atmosphere of each location resonates from the image. With this in mind she depicts the transformation that occurs to these locations at specific times of day, when for a fleeting moment, the play of light can transform the mundane, urban environment. When photographed at night and artificially lit, these spaces begin to take on a cinematic quality, imbuing them with a heightened psychological charge.
The Picturesque and Romantic movements in European landscape painting play an important role in McIntyre’s work. She is interested in making links between painting and photography, adopting the formal qualities of painting long associated with artists such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Jacob Van Ruisdael, to re-interpret them within a contemporary context. Her work recognises that our ways of ‘seeing’ the landscape are conditioned through our knowledge of its historical depictions in painting and that both painting and photography not only portray but also construct ‘the landscape’. McIntyre’s landscape images do not seek to represent traditional rural idylls, instead they depict vistas that are in themselves constructed and man-made so that each scene is interrupted with evidence of urban activity.
McIntyre is also interested in locating contemporary photography in relation to art-historical ideas of the sublime, through images that explore elements of natural phenomena. These photographs fix the most transient conditions of the landscape, the ‘elements’ themselves, in representation. By photographing in very specific weathers, particularly mist and fog, she produces documents of that which is intangible; in these images, the landscape itself, the supposed ‘site’ of the work, is rendered unknowable and becomes an absent subject.
Interested in the photograph’s object quality, McIntyre uses installation as a means of activating the spaces that her photographs inhabit and in doing so makes the viewer aware of the act of ‘looking’.