HOME: Amanda Rice

Amanda Rice’s installation of photography and film, entitled Site Where a Future Never Took Place, explores the historical conditions of immigration in Ireland. 

Drawing on the textile industries in the west of Ireland, and specifically Western Hats Ltd., which operated from 1942 to 1981, her work addresses their role as a workplace and community for Jewish exiles. Born out of a trade mission to mainland Europe in 1937, one year prior to Kristallnacht and the eventual outbreak of World War II, and spearheaded by Irish Minister for Trade and Employment Sean Lemass and Senator John McEllin, they actively encouraged Jewish-led textile businesses to relocate to a site of relative security and neutrality. At the same time, this initiative would promote Ireland as a prosperous postcolonial country while supporting an economically destitute region of the country through newfound industry and employment. 

In making the work, Rice met with local former employees of Western Hats Ltd., discussing the historical significance of the enterprise and the consequent return of migrants to a newly peaceful Europe following its closure. Her film and images capture the ruined site of the factory, its crumbling chimneys and broken brickwork (including their re-use as ballast in the construction of new houses), and explores what it means to build an archive based on these objects, artefacts, and personal histories of those who lived and worked there during that time.