Documentary Photographer Sean McKernan will present a talk about his powerful and revealing photographic retrospective exhibition “Belfast -Conflict to Peace”. This a rare collection of images that depict 40 years of living & witnessing a city embroiled in a seemingly unresolvable violent conflict, its impact on everyday life, the fragile road to peace, and Belfast's recent transformation into a thriving city. This highly acclaimed and visually stunning exhibition which recently returned from successful showings in Denver & New York USA spans over 40 years of work documenting the gritty reality of the city where he has lived all of his life.
In 1983 Sean Co-Founded and for 18 years Directed Northern Ireland's principle Social Photography Project and exhibition ”Belfast Exposed”, described by poet Seamus Heaney as “a marvelous moment” that had "a powerful, democratic feel running through these photographs which documented a common experience of unemployment, poor housing, and economic deprivation, intensified by the effects of conflict and sectarian division and alleviated by the gritty humour of working-class communities”. This Internationally respected project was a response to the often unchallenged representation of mainstream media and the background of politically imposed censorship that provided local people from all sections of society with the opportunity to have their say through photography
Sean will also talk about his practice of working within the community sector to enable divided communities to creatively engage and heal through photography. Thankfully life has changed dramatically over the past 25 years since the signing of the 1998 “Good Friday Agreement” which brought a much-welcomed yet fragile peace to City and Sean's talk will take us on his compelling personal photography journey through this turbulent period.
“Nothing, not even the moving poetry recited by Ireland’s Joe Duggan and Jani Melia, could record the grim realities of Northern Ireland like the camera eye of photographer Sean McKernan” -Mary Cassi Daily Freeman New York.
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