My tutor recommended this book to me in connection with my own interest in the heritage and culture industry around tourism. Originally while working on the piece I looked up the images online but eventually I had to buy the book. Paul Reas has a knack for taking what is right in front of us all day, everyday and examining it under the microscope. Where many of us might believe that things are what they seem his work suggests the deeper meanings in the everyday. This book dismantles the tourism and heritage industry with precision and exposes the way it takes the image of past industries such as coal mining and scrubs them of all the nasty, brutish, industrial horror, sanitizing them for modern consumption by people looking for diversion and amusement while on day trips and holidays. It describes how british industrial history has been white washed and reinvented to be peddled on as plastic souvenirs, T-shirts and beer mats.
What I have taken away from the book to incorporate into my own practice is that I can expand my exploration of the exploitation of Irish culture to look at it in its many forms. This is a subject that I have only scratched the surface of. A couple of days ago I visited a heritage park in Wales and I found the people who were in the park more interesting than the museum itself. I viewed it completely different after seeing Flogging a dead horse and the entire time I was there I tried to see it the way Paul Reas would, I questioned everything. There seemed to be a procession of older people on coach tours who looked like they were in purgatory, sometimes it felt like God’s waiting room, they looked like they were there under sufferance really, like heritage is something you must do, like an obligation. As well as them there was the obligatory camera man (besides me) who busily photographed everything.