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@NorthernSlant

Documenting natural connections through photography

Documenting natural connections through photography
by Allan LEONARD
10 April 2021

Melanie Law, who has just joined the Eve Blair Show on BBC Radio Ulster, interviewed Christopher Barr and me for her inaugural feature (at 26:00). The discussion was on photography and a competition that Belfast Exposed is hosting, in conjunction with Translink and Arts & Business Northern Ireland. Christopher and I shared experiences as a teacher and student, respectively.

I spoke about how I began my coursework at Belfast Exposed with a one-day course on street photography, armed with nothing more than an iPhone. Law asked me how the lockdown brought about by the pandemic has affected my style. I replied that that is a fascinating irony, as street photography can thrive in the hustle and bustle of urban life. But it’s just a different story that you’re telling.

I gave an example of going out on my government encouraged/sanctioned exercise permission, when I would venture out on my bicycle. A camera eye is always present, and I would make images of what I would find visually compelling, like a section of mesh wire fence adorned with medals hung in praise of the efforts of the NHS.

Likewise, Christopher spoke about a fellow student, a doctor at the Ulster Hospital, Tuck Goh, who photographed the pandemic as it unfolded in hospital environments: “You see this work and you’re just mesmerised by it. It is just beautiful.”

The pandemic has been such a major event for everyone. Once, whilst running past two people, I heard one woman say to the other, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to cope with this.” Christopher explained how the teaching at Belfast Exposed has adapted the perspectives of wellbeing and resilience, encouraging participants to start by photographing someone that brings them joy, to anchor such thoughts.

The idea behind the Natural Connections photography project is to document, visually, what you find as a natural connection — the link between nature and connecting in the last year. Just tag your images on social media with #naturalconnections2021 up until 22nd April.

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@NorthernSlant

Book review: A Pocket History of Northern Ireland (Richard KILLEEN)

Book review: A Pocket History of Northern Ireland (Richard KILLEEN)
by Allan LEONARD
29 December 2020

Occasionally I am approached for an image to be used in a book publication. Recently, this was for one that I made of a mural celebrating the television series, Derry Girls. Disclosure: I granted permission, with payment, for the image in A Pocket History of Northern Ireland, by Richard Killeen and published by Gill Books.

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@NorthernSlant Photography Projects

Altered Context: A New Parameters project

Altered Context: A New Parameters project
by Allan LEONARD
20 July 2020

New Parameters was an online engagement project, with participants creating images of their responses to the arrival and presence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland. The Nerve Centre hosted collaboration, through video calls and the online platform, Slack. The following is my submission, named “Altered Context”. I am very thankful to the project’s organisers, for facilitating a forum for visual thinking and a place to make new acquaintances and friends.

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@NorthernSlant

Book review: Anna Lo: The Place I Call Home

Book review: Anna Lo: The Place I Call Home
by Allan LEONARD
15 August 2019

Anna Lo writes with a crisp and concise manner, demonstrating her fine skills in English that she makes reference to in her memoir. The Place I Call Home is a chronological story, from her childhood to current retirement. It gives a valuable, firsthand insight of the experiences of an immigrant to Northern Ireland.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

“In my imagination, it was true”: Margins of Excess exhibition talk by Max PINCKERS

“In my imagination, it was true”: Margins of Excess exhibition artist talk by Max PINCKERS
by Allan LEONARD
14 June 2019

As part of the Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast Exposed is hosting an exhibition of Margins of Excess, by Max Pinckers. The artist gave a talk about this project in the gallery, describing how he approached the topic of intersecting news story truths from investigative facts and subjective realities.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Belfast Exposed exhibition talk: Post Truth: The new normal of the undefined, abstract, and make believe

Belfast Exposed exhibition talk: Post Truth: The new normal of the undefined, abstract, and make believe
by Allan LEONARD
30 May 2019

Belfast Exposed is hosting a group exhibition displaying the work of graduate students of the MFA Photography programme at Ulster University (UU). The theme is “Post Truth”, which aims to explore how we find our truths in a reportedly “post-truth” society, through the medium of photography. As UU Professor Donovan Wylie explained on the information flyer, the works collectively represent collisions of faith, identity, and history, which “take us to a place of post truth, a world where there is a new normal: undefined, abstract, and make believe”.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Book review: The Colour of Time (Dan JONES & Marina AMARAL)

Book review: The Colour of Time (Dan JONES & Marina AMARAL)
by Allan LEONARD
26 May 2019

Released in hardcover in August 2018 and now available in paperback, The Colour of Time, by historian Dan Jones and artist Marina Amaral, is a collection of 200 colourised photographs taken between 1850 and 1960. With accompanying extended captions, this is a visually rewarding overview of personalities and major moments in world history, from the Crimean War to the space age.

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@NorthernSlant @SharedFuture

Art in Trouble: Expressing Shankill’s story through creative participation

Art in Trouble: Expressing Shankill’s story through creative participation
by Allan LEONARD
28 March 2019

Billed as part of the Imagine! Festival, the Spectrum Centre hosted a European Arts Education Platform session, “Art in Trouble”, on how the people of the Shankill neighbourhood of Belfast have told their stories more recently, through a variety of participatory art. David Boyd (Beat Carnival) welcomed the approximately ten visiting delegations from Europe, and he put tonight’s event in the context of asking how any artistic intervention affects social life and social change.

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@NorthernSlant @SharedFuture

Burn/t Out: Crimes against social cohesion

Burn/t Out: Crimes against social cohesion
by Allan LEONARD
10 April 2019

One of the criticisms of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is that it did not satisfactorily scope out mechanisms for dealing with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland; the focus was forging a consensus on exclusively non-violent means of pursuing politics. One form of violence during the Troubles was the forced displacement of some 45,000-plus people from their homes, whether through physically burning their properties or verbal intimidation. On the 21st anniversary of the Agreement, an art exhibition was launched at ArtCetera Studio. Organised by artist and filmmaker Casey Asprooth-Jackson and academic Brendan Ciarán Browne, Burn/t Out presents narratives and artefacts of Northern Ireland’s internally displaced persons.

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@NorthernSlant

Book review: Don’t Mention the War (Vicky COSSTICK)

Book review: Don’t Mention the War (Vicky COSSTICK)
by Allan LEONARD
5 March 2019

Don’t Mention the War is an e-book by Vicky Cosstick, published by ChangeAware in association with Northern Slant, that aims to explore aspects of legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in a set of five chapters covering the peace process, women’s perspectives, trauma, the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and the role of media during and post-conflict. Her research and writing took place between spring 2017 and autumn 2018, with regular references to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the confidence-and-supply arrangement between the DUP and Conservatives in the current British Government.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Decisive moments at Belfast City Hospital

Decisive moments at Belfast City Hospital: A street photography exhibition by Tuck GOH
by Allan LEONARD
17 January 2019

At the Tower Gallery in City Hospital, I arrived with some time to spare in advance of the official start of an exhibition of street photography by Tuck Goh. I took a seat and watched passers-by — staff, patients, and visitors. There was a flow of activity not unlike that portrayed in some of the framed images hanging in front of me. Such images are captured with a camera eye trained to capture “the decisive moment”. I’m interrupted by a young woman pushing a young girl — seven or eight years old — in a specialist wheelchair, between me and an image of another younger girl outdoors with her parents. Snapshots of life wherever you look for it.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

SEVERE: Interview with Martin SEEDS

SEVERE: Interview with Martin SEEDS
by Allan LEONARD
5 November 2018

A new body of work by Belfast-born artist, Martin Seeds, has just been shown as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe. The works are an extension of Seeds’ application of landscape and allegory. Or put another way, our political landscape — literally and figuratively.