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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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@SharedFuture

Appropriate and accessible storytelling in museums and heritage sites

Appropriate and accessible storytelling in museums and heritage sites
by Allan LEONARD
26 March 2021

During an Imagine! Festival event, academics and practitioners shared their knowledge and experiences of the use of storytelling in museum and heritage site environments, as a means of evoking emotion in appropriate and accessible ways.

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Essays Photography

Book review: Old Ireland in Colour (John BRESLIN & Sarah-Anne BUCKLEY)

Book review: Old Ireland in Colour
by Allan LEONARD
14 March 2021

Old Ireland in Colour is an ongoing project of colourising black and white images by photographers in Ireland in the late 19th to early 20th century. The catalyst was John Breslin working on colourising some photos of his grandparents, when he discovered an automated system called DeOldify. He looked for more images to colourise, starting with old photographs of NUI Galway, then the Galway/Connemara area, and then of Ireland as a whole.

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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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@FactCheckNI

Overcoming closed borders: opening up fact-checking solutions

Overcoming closed borders: opening up fact-checking solutions
Interview with Giovanni ZAGNI (Director, Pagella Politica)
by Allan LEONARD
24 November 2020

“I haven’t seen some of my colleagues in six months,” remarked Giovanni Zagni, director of Pagella Politica, based in Milan. Conducting this interview via Zoom was a salutary reminder of unprecedented times in which we are living — never before have so many people globally have had to attempt to conduct their work, commerce, research, and collaboration remotely. Fact checkers may be more accustomed to applying their digital skills from anywhere — online access permitting — but remote camaraderie is a new phenomenon.

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@SluggerOToole

A passion for social justice: Tribute to Anne MOORE

A passion for social justice: Tribute to Anne MOORE
by Allan LEONARD
8 August 2020

Anne Moore will be remembered for her passion for social justice. I met Anne during my employment as a policy officer for the Alliance Party as I sought out the views of a valued stakeholder, NICVA, where she served as public affairs officer. Anne and I had plenty of enjoyable conversations and discussions on official as well as unofficial business matters—we would frequently diverge to global and philosophical perspectives.

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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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@FactCheckNI

Telling stories with data

Telling stories with data: FactCheckNI session at Global Fact 7
by Allan LEONARD
29 June 2020

As part of the annual summit of the International Fact-Checking Network, FactCheckNI hosted “Telling Stories with Data” at Global Fact 7, an online session that explored the use of data in news and information presented to the public. I moderated the conversation between John Campbell (Business and Economics Editor at BBC Northern Ireland) and Niall O’Neill (statistician at the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA)). The session aimed to impart an appreciation of the importance of the integrity of trustworthy official data sources and the benefits that this has for fact-checking organisations, through good working relationships with statistics agencies.

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@FactCheckNI @SluggerOToole

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
14 April 2020

“The figures on deaths relate in almost all cases to patients who have died in hospital and who have tested positive for COVID-19. Slight differences in reporting in devolved administrations may mean that they include a small number of deaths outside hospital.” — Department of Health and Social Care (UK)

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@FactCheckNI @SluggerOToole

Asking the right questions for a better-informed public

Asking the right questions for a better-informed public
by Allan LEONARD
28 January 2020

Representing FactCheckNI and as part of a four-person panel, I was invited to give evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies. Fellow witnesses were Ed Humpherson (Director General for Regulation, Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR)), Will Moy (Chief Executive, Full Fact), and Jenni Sargent (Managing Director, First Draft).

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@FactCheckNI @SluggerOToole

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?

Lies and democracy: Who are the truth tellers?
by Allan LEONARD for FactCheckNI
6 December 2019

As part of the annual general meeting of NICVA, the umbrella body of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland, there was a panel discussion on the topics of truth, trust, and how everyone engages with a bombardment of information. Entitled, “Lies and Democracy: The Fight for the Truth”, BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Seamus McKee, moderated the discussion with panellists Amanda Ferguson, John Barry, and Orna Young.

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@SharedFuture @SluggerOToole

Musicking for peacebuilding

Musicking for peacebuilding
Sounding Conflict: From Resistance to Reconciliation
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
28 November 2019

The state-of-the-art acoustic facility, the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University Belfast, was a most appropriate meeting place for a two-day symposium that explored the roles of music, from activist resistance to a hopeful tool for reconciliation from conflict. The event was organised by the Mitchell Institute for Global Peace at Queen’s University.