Mary Furlong was born in Dublin and spent her preschool days playing in her mother’s toy shop. She completed her foundation course in Limerick then transferred to NCAD and after working in fashion design changed direction and studied photography in IADT. She worked as a researcher and assistant to the director of the Gallery of Photography and as a photography tutor at Griffith College, Ringsend CDVEC, and St. Peters College, Killester.
Mary was Perry Ogden’s photo assistant and studio manager for nearly eleven years and the coordinator and tutor of the Ballymun Photography Club, a Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane educational outreach programme.
Mary's clients include The Financial Times and The Telegraph. She also likes to work collaboratively within communities and has studied Arts and the Community in Marino and Arts Participation & Development in CIT. While living in Wexford she was a member of Wexford County Councils Artists Panel. She has worked with the residents of Ozanam House, Saint Joseph’s CNU, Castle Meadows estate, and members of the Involve Youth Club.
From 1996 to 2012 Mary was the resident portrait photographer for the Alternative Miss Ireland, in 2004 these portraits were published in the book ‘Dancing at the Crossroads: Glamour Rooted in Despair’. A number of her Alternative Miss Ireland images are in the Irish Queer Archive at the National Library of Ireland.
Her ongoing project The Red Ribbon was awarded a Meath County Council Community Heritage Grant and has been exhibited widely. In 2017 three photographs from this project won the Solstice Visual Arts Award and in 2019 Rua Red started their collection with two pieces from The Red Ribbon. Limerick City & County Council commissioned Mary to work with members of the local Traveller community collecting stories for the project. Mary’s piece on pioneering aviator Lilian Bland was selected for The Billboard Project, part of the Creative Journeys public art program at Dublin Airport.
While photography forms the main part of her practice Mary has started to incorporate text and more recently to experiment with audio and video. In 2019 she returned to college again as an advanced entry student to obtain a degree in photography. In May 2021 Mary graduated with first-class honours from the BA course at TU Dublin. She is currently a student on the MFA Photography course at Ulster University.
Mary is interested in stories, personal living histories, and local places and their hidden histories, the commonplace and the generally overlooked. She is inspired by what she finds around her, everyday objects and situations, chance remarks, snippets, and stories. Mary looks for what she thinks is extraordinary in the everyday.