“Days in Derry are long” says Irish photographer Megan Doherty. “There’s not a whole lot to do except hang out, wasting time”. Making pictures is her form of escape. “I hated how I had tread every street a million times,” explains Doherty of the reason she first picked up the camera. She was “restless, bored, claustrophobic”.
Her friends were her salvation, and the more she photographed, the more people she met along the way. Like all good muses, they brought her into another world, one that was surprising and electric. “Essentially I am imposing my ideas of youth, freedom, beauty and rebellion on to the landscape of small town life.”
In many ways, Stoned in Melanchol is a work of fiction. Yes, these are real people from a very specific place, but they’re also a fantasy, a mirage. “I don’t actually appear in any of the photographs,” admits Doherty, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t there. She’s given us a roadmap to Derry’s underground scene, but she’s also taken us on a tour through her own daydreams: “I suppose this is how I am present in the photographs without actually being featured.”
Ultimately this is a book about freedom. It’s a book about the universality of being young and being bored. Of growing up and getting fucked up. It explores identity, friendships and belonging. How we create an alternative ‘family’ in our friends based on shared interests and mutual understanding. Of collectively navigating small town living and lack of opportunity. It’s about the claustraphobia of suburbia. Of short summers spent in the park and long winters spent at stranger’s houses. Of finding the means to escape.
In November Setanta Books are releasing a limited edition book; 15cm x 30cm Rizla style box containing fifty images across twenty five double sided A3 folded colour posters with text inserts and an introduction by Firecracker founder, Fiona Rogers. There are three different covers, limited to 80 copies each. Total print run is 240. Pre-order the book here