Thursday, August 11, 2011

Belfast Photo Festival - Part 2

Detonating Rough Gound at the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Sophie Ristelhuber
(Belfast Photo Festival)

Detonating Rough Gound at the Ormeau Baths Gallery, Paul Seawright
(Belfast Photo Festival)

I had planned to leave Belfast on Saturday to drive home to Cork, stopping for the night in Dublin, as I was not sure the borrowed (and brilliant) Skoda Estate which had brought me and my work up would be able to make the journey home in one go. However I was persuaded to stay by a merry band of adventurers, led by Peggy Sue Amison (Curator of the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh). We headed off first to see Detonating Rough Ground, Paul Seawright & Sophie Ristelhueber’s show at Ormeau Baths Gallery, engaging with the memory of conflict. There I stood up close to the work, and swam in the expanses of grey & the beautiful gentle mid tones of Paul’s images.

Glory Trip 197 from Full Spectrum Dominance by Simon Norfolk (Michael Hoppen Gallery)

A restaurant next to the Kabul municipal bus garage by Simon Norfolk from 'Burke and Norfolk'
(NY Times Lens Blog)

Then we moved on to Simon Norfolk’s work. Simon gave two really interesting and insightful talks about two different bodies of work. He launched his book ‘Burke and Norfolk,’ which is also an exhibition recently seen at Tate Modern. The body of work is of photographs taken in Afghanistan recently presented alongside photographs taken in Afghanistan in the 19th century by Irish photographer, John Burke. I enjoyed hearing Simon talk about the story of John Burke and what was involved for him in making the photographs in the late 1800s. Simon is also showing Full Spectrum Dominance, a series of beautifully presented large format colour images of military rocket and missile launches in America. His artist’s talk was another entertaining and informative event, about the experience of making the work, and his facination around the events he witnessed. He has the rare and beautiful ability of sharing his enthusism for history, life and photography.

Simon Norfolk's talk at Belfast Photo Festival

The evening ended with dinner at The Galley, on board a perfectly positioned barge, with the hugely inclusive and generous Peggy and a number of new friends. (Incidentally the Galley is run by Belfast Exposed Event Managers Brown & Bri.) Among the group were the festival director Michael Weir, artists Elliot Ross, Emmanuelle Waeckerle, Simon Burch, Simon Norfolk, Belfast exposed director Pauline Hadaway & Paul Durcan editor of Source magazine. And I was thrilled to reconnect with Nora Hickey, the Director of the Mermaid Arts Centre who I had worked with previously at Glucksman Art Gallery. I want to thank them all for a wonderful evening!

The Belfast Photo Festival is one to watch. The 25 year old (yes really!) director Michael Weir and his team of enthusiastic volunteers have put together a wonderful programme of events and it feels like a well oiled machine rather than an event in its infancy. I wish them heartfelt congratulations and good wishes for continued success with this wonderful biennial photographic festival that I am so delighted to be a part of. I also want to thank the coordinator of the Queen Street Studios Gallery Brendan O'Neill for all his help and support in bringing my work to the festival.

The Belfast Photo Festival continues until 14th August at locations across the city and Document continues until 27th August at Queen Street Studios Gallery, Belfast.

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