Matt Loughrey's My Colorful Past project bridges "the gap between history and art", using digital techniques to add colour to monochrome images. This week, he's looking at a photograph from the Kilmainham Gaol/OPW archive of May Gibney, 1916 veteran and Cumann na mBan member. Gibney, from Temple Street in Dublin, was engaged to Dick McKee, who was shot by the British forces in Dublin Castle on Bloody Sunday. The ring she wears on her left hand was made to commemorate McKee and his comrade Peadar Clancy, who was shot with him, and an inscription on it reads Dick, Peadar. Although Gibney later married Laurence O'Neill of the Carlow Brigade, she wore the ring all her life.
So how did Loughrey decide how to approach this striking image? "Where a painter paints light in order to realize an object fully, so too is the method behind colouring a photographic portrait," he says. "The key to realism is working with the ambient light and contrast, therein your subject is revealed. The original image was low contrasting meaning the colour equivalent would be of a lower vibrancy. The Cumann na mBann uniform were researched with the help of a Dublin auction house."
Original image courtesy of Kilmainham Gaol/OPW KMGLM.19PO-1A22-27