Jackie Nickerson (b.1960), 'Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), Poet, Playwright, Translator, Nobel Laureate', 2007.

Jackie Nickerson (b.1960), ‘Seamus Heaney (b. 1939), Poet, Playwright, Translator, Nobel Laureate’, 2007. © Jackie Nickerson

Jackie Nickerson (b.1960)

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), Poet, Playwright, Translator, Nobel Laureate, 2007

© Jackie Nickerson

Digital C-print
Presented, Phoebe Matson and Tom Gurry, 2012


Widely regarded as the most significant Irish poet since WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney was born in Co. Derry, and educated at St. Columb’s College and Queen’s University Belfast. His poetry first came to attention in the mid-1960s. He divided his professional energies for much of his career between writing and lecturing, and occupied posts at several prestigious universities, including Queen’s, Harvard and Oxford. He received many literary awards including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the EM Forster Award (1975), Whitbread Prize (1996 and 1999), and most notably the Nobel Prize for Literature (1995). He was a founding member of Aosdána and was a Saoi from 1997 until his death in 2013.

Jackie Nickerson is a photography-based visual artist, who has garnered an international reputation for photographing people and their environments. Born in Boston, she currently lives and works in Ireland and New York. In 2008, Nickerson won the AIB prize and the following year was awarded the Curtin O’Donoghue Prize. She was also shortlisted for the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis (2008) and nominated for several other prestigious awards, including the Becks Futures Award (2003) and the Prix Pictet (2010). She has exhibited at many major venues, among them the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and the Gallery of Photography in Dublin, the Museum der Moderne in Salzberg and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Her work also features in significant private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the IMMA. Several collections of Nickerson’s work have been published, including Farm (2002), a book of portraits of farm workers in southern Africa, and Faith (2007), the focus of which was Catholic religious communities in Ireland. Two of the works from Faith were acquired recently by the Vatican Collection.

Nickerson’s sitters have included actors Julie Andrews and Ethan Hawke, actor and singer Yves Montant, musician Bjork, philosopher Anthony Flew, artist Liza Lou, and writer Colm Tóibín. Nickerson uses a medium format camera and works exclusively in film, the negatives of which are scanned to make digital files for printing.

In this photograph, taken in the kitchen of the celebrated poet’s Dublin home, Nickerson captures the benign, contemplative expression with which the poet is so often associated.