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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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@MrUlster

Book review: Irish Summers (Harry GRUYAERT)

Book review: Irish Summers (Harry GRUYAERT)
by Allan LEONARD
21 March 2021

Harry Gruyaert’s work is recognisable by its saturated colours of thoughtfully chosen hues. The interplay with light is also crucial. There are images in Irish Summers that exemplify such decisive moments, when colour and light come together to satisfy Gruyaert’s quest for sensual beauty in the otherwise banal.

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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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Essays Photography

Book review: New Ways of Seeing (Grant SCOTT)

Book review: New Ways of Seeing (Grant SCOTT)
by Allan LEONARD
21 February 2021

We read books of fiction and non-fiction, and may acquire a respect for how difficult it is to create such works ourselves. We are taught how to read the written word, and by practising reading, tend to appreciate its transformative power. The novel we re-read. The poem that lifts our spirits. The biography that provokes empathy. We call it literacy — to communicate effectively and make sense of the world.

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Essays Photography

Book review: How I Make Photographs by Joel MEYEROWITZ

Book review: How I Make Photographs by Joel MEYEROWITZ
by Allan LEONARD
18 October 2020

Joel Meyerowitz is a renowned street photographer, long before the term became a familiar recognised genre (or subgenre of documentary photography). Once working as an art director, after an encounter with photographer Robert Frank, he quit his job and set out with a Pentax camera. Meyerowitz is known for his recording of street life in his native New York City, covering a span of several decades.

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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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Photography Projects

Post-Agreement identity narratives: A photographic essay

The 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement gives legal recognition to the coexisting and overlapping national citizenships in Northern Ireland, entitling those born in the jurisdiction to be British, Irish, or both. The devolved administration codifies the traditional political identities of “Unionist” and “Nationalist”, as well as an opportunity for “Others”. The accord has also pledged greater protections for human rights and a development of equality for all.

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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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@SharedFuture @SluggerOToole Essays Photography

Doing our part: Dealing with bonfires

Doing our part: Dealing with bonfires
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
9 May 2019

Greater Shankill Alternatives, which is part of a co-ordinating initiative on restorative justice across Northern Ireland, hosted a workshop session that explored various aspects of the tradition of bonfires and the organisation’s approaches of engagement with groups who construct these structures for annual celebrations. The event was supported by Belfast City Council and its DiverseCity good relations programme.

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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.