Matt Loughrey's My Colorful Past project bridges "the gap between history and art", using digital techniques to add colour to monochrome images. This image from the National Library of Ireland's collection, taken on 17 May 1921, shows British soldiers guarding three giant bales of tobacco that had been thrown into the Liffey and were eventually rescued with the help of a tank. What is now the 3 Arena can be seen the background behind the cask on the left.


So how did Loughrey choose the colours for the image? "Much of the colour aspects in this image are owing to common sense, that being the soldiers' uniform colours," he says. But other elements demanded more attention. "What makes everything come together is the ambient light and it was apparent right away that this was taken on a fair weather day. The short shadows are telling of the time of year, so in order to fully realise the image, that same ambient natural light has to carry across the material textures. This was confirmed upon reading the reverse of the image and a note written that the image was taken on a warm Saturday in May 1921." 

Original image from the National Library of Ireland