Lives Remembered

Jan Voster: Dutch photographer had unique artistic connection to Ireland

Jan Voster died on October 25 in Amsterdam. Picture by Pamela M Brown

DUTCH art-photographer Jan Voster's distinctive style came into being on travelling to the north west of Ireland in 1986.

A profound bond developed into ‘an artistic connection he’d never experienced in any other country'.

In 1988, on finding a book about the shut-down Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway line, he began researching Cashelnagor, the site of a former station.

This led him to produce two series of black and white studies - Where the Road Ends and the Hills Begin, and Back to Cashelnagor - tracing the remains of the route from Derry to Burtonport.

A photograph of Mount Errigal would later feature on Altan’s LP Another Sky.

An image by Jan Voster of Mount Errigle in Co Donegal was used by Altan for their 2000 LP Another Sky

In 1994, The Linen Homeland presented images concentrating on the industrial heritage of the flax and engineering mills in Antrim, Armagh, Down and Tyrone.

The photographs explored panoramic views of the mills featuring meticulous intimate architectural detail.

Meanwhile, the topography of Derry, in his collection A Maiden Still, depicted the sectarian war-torn city. His photographs captured the past, present and expectant future leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.

A photograph of William Street in Derry by Jan Voster

Voster also collaborated with Cathal Ó Searcaigh recording the life and landscape of Caiseal na gCorr, resulting in the exhibition Landscape of Remembrance, and with Pamela Brown for The Eye of the Horse, a photographic/poetry exhibition that toured Derry, Donegal and the Netherlands.

Born in 1949 in Blaricum, Jan Voster grew up in Amsterdam where he studied photography.

A former bass player with The Meteors and Oh Boy, he cited Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen among creative cohorts.

He had a diverse taste in Irish music and enjoyed Mary Black concerts in the Netherlands but his prodigious creative flow based on his adopted country made him an honorary Irish artist.

His work is not only a gift but a legacy to the people of Ireland whom he said ‘gave me their hospitality, friendship and love’.

Jan Voster, who was Associate Professor of Photography at Utrecht Centre for the Arts, died on October 25 in Amsterdam after a long illness.

P M Brown and Dr K Kiely

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Lives Remembered