Artistic License: Daniel Holfeld

Photographer DANIEL HOLFELD‘s upcoming exhibition focuses on MIDDLE EASTERN ARCHITECTURE and the serenity of the spaces …


Armed with a BA Hons degree in photography and critical thinking from Dublin’s Institute of Technology, Daniel Holfeld has travelled extensively and exhibited in London and New York. He combines his passion for fashion with fine art photography, and his latest work is part of Brown Thomas’ current Art & Style exhibition.

For Art & Style you focused on Middle Eastern architecture and the serenity of the spaces you found. Can you tell us about the places you discovered?

The silence and stillness was something unexpected. I travelled to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, knowing of its grandiose arches, monumentally high doors and overwhelming presence, however once there, it was the discreet moments I became drawn too.

I’m a huge advocate of the underestimated or overlooked, so these are the small vignettes of a building I try to photograph. I’m always searching for an image interesting enough to print and hold the audience’s attention, which for me is never the obvious but rather the hidden. Hence my play on shadows, light and dark. The darkness is a character within my images, just as much as the architecture or what’s illuminated. I hope they draw the viewer in, to imagine in their mind what once was or would could be.

The exhibition a result of your time spent in Morocco over the last two years. What originally attracted you to the country?

It has been eight years since I first visited Moroccan soil and it has captivated me ever since. What drew me initially was my own sense of adventure. Through my fashion work I was very aware of Yves Saint Laurent’s deep relationship with Morocco and also how architects and designers such as Alvar Aalto, Frank Lloyd Wright, Courbusier and Charles Eames used Moroccan crafts to contrast with and complement the clean lines of 20th-century dwellings. Every time I walk through Jemaa el-Fnaa I still feel as though I’m amidst something special. The sheer beauty of what you’ll find here is like nowhere else.

I believe the printing technique of your current exhibition is a departure for you?

Because some of the buildings I’ve photographed for this exhibition are quite old, the printing process not only contemporises the content, but also becomes another work of art in and of itself. The paper is private label fine art Hahnemühle paper. This paper is synonymous with excellence, and the premium-coated paper is favoured by some of the world’s most talented artists. The fine art print is embedded beneath a layer of UV protected and scratch resistant acrylic. Once completed the acrylic print is sunken within a handmade timber frame, which has been coated with a matt layer of black pigment.

You’ve always been drawn to wide open spaces – what’s the attraction for you?

I enjoy peace and tranquility and this is something I’ve always found in large open spaces, which may be resting in disuse or abandoned. It is quite a humbling experience to stand in the middle of such a space, and as a photographer, try to represent this space and do it justice. Upon graduation I photographed the Barbour Campbell Threads factory in Lisburn. In its heyday it was the largest linen weaving factory in Europe and reminded me very much of my own grandfather, who was a weaver.

I’m always listening to the silence and letting it guide my eye. Spaces, whether abandoned or inhabited, all tell a story. However when you present a rendition of that space to the viewer, the audience is then invited to project their own story on the image which develops it further.

How and where do you work? 

I have a studio space in Cabinteely, which double ups as a showroom too, however I’m quite nomadic in my day-to-day work life. No two days are the same and I welcome travel with open arms. It’s a liberating experience to travel somewhere you’ve never been and work in situ, thinking on your feet and reacting instinctively to your surroundings for the first time. I try not to anchor myself and believe by doing so you remain more fluid in your movements as you progress through your career.

What are you working on currently?

As we draw closer to summer, the word “colour” repeats itself through my mind. So I’m carving out a travel plan which will take me around Europe and further afield to create a new series of coloured prints. The language of colour and sunshine intrigues me, because the tones change so much throughout the day, from dawn to dusk. 

Need to Know: Daniel Holfeld’s photography will be on display at Brown Thomas from Thursday April 5 – Wednesday April 11. For enquiries email ;

Penny McCormick

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