Dara Scully (1989-) is a photographer that blurs the line between reality and fantasy, darkness and light, and childhood nostalgia and the emotions of womanhood. Her work brings forth a feeling of whimsy while triggering the sensation of fear running through your veins. Dara Sully’s work is a constant investigation of childhood and the breaking point at which childhood slips through our fingertips.
In her series, “A Child is Playing” and “Into the Darkness”, Scully does more than touch on reminiscence of childhood and child play, she instead uses childhood as a motif to darkness and the pain of her “past lives”. Her work, much like Sally Mann, infringes upon common ideas about the lightness of childhood and instead brings darker emotions and ideas into childhood itself. Through her work, Scully has brought to question the idea that our childhood is where all of our pain through adulthood usually stems from. She also tends to use tangible objects to symbolize different aspects of childhood coming to an end such as scissors and the cutting of a braid as symbolism to “cutting the cord” after a child is born and is separated from the mother. Another recurring theme throughout her photographs is the idea of twins and “mirror images”. Throughout all of her work, anytime there are two people represented, each holds a significance in representing a “side” of an idea or feeling. For example, cutting a braid vs. wrapping a braid around your neck or hugging a maternal figure vs. stabbing that same figure in the chest.
I have loved Dara Scully’s work since I first started taking photographs and I can see how her work has influenced my black and white portraits. I have never photographed children with dead birds, (although I would truly love to) but her dark and whimsical style creates the same feeling in me that I get when I see some of my portraits I have done of women in the woods.
"A Child is Playing" / "Into the Darkness"
"Flowers For Your Grave"
"You Play In My Nightmares"
Self Portraits: "Hidden Faces"
Self Portraits: "Your Branches / My Bones"
My absolute favorite photo of Dara Scully's is this one titled, "Siamese Twins" from her series, "Chrysalis". This was the first photo I ever saw of Dara's and it is what led me to absolutely fall in love with her work. Something about it just brings such a feeling of tenderness and love while also bringing forth a feeling of childhood abandonment and isolation.
"Little girls blossom:
and forget the empty chrysalis
of their childhood."
- Dara Scully
All work courteous of Dara Scully