Gráinne Quinlan, The Strawboys (2012)

Found in rural parts of Ireland, where there is a strong connection to Irish heritage and tradition, Strawboys or Mummers perform through song, dance, and pure mischievous fun. These groups traditionally present themselves to their local community disguised behind their masks and elaborate costumes which are often made from the humblest of readily available materials: straw.

In this series of formal portraits, Quinlan and her subjects have united to honour, record and celebrate this colourful tradition and curiosity.


Having studied photography at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland for four years, Gráinne Quinlan recently relocated to New York in 2012. Since her arrival, Gráinne has worked primarily as part of an artist collective in Chelsea and has more recently gained experience with Mary Ellen Marks’ photography studio.

In November of 2012, Gráinne travelled to BosniaHerzegovina and the Ukraine on behalf of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women to document programmes and initiatives set up and supported by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. The resulting images from the assignment were displayed in the trust fund’s annual report, distributed amongst UN member states, international donors and staff members at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York and worldwide.

Gráinne is drawn towards photojournalism and collaborative projects with community based groups and hopes to see her work develop further in this direction. For now she enjoys seeking out projects which are adventurous and challenging. Her enjoyment comes from working with subjects who are prepared to express their creative energies in front of the camera. The results are a blend of documentary, portraiture and performance photography, with direction exchanged from both behind and in front of the camera.

Gráinne’s Strawboy Portraits (2012), were exhibited in the Blue Door Gallery, New York and on Camera Obscura, an online photography magazine dedicated to contemporary photography.