Buzz Logan – Shankill and Beyond at Red Barn Gallery
Red Barn Gallery founder Frankie Quinn introduces new retrospective exhibition of work by photographer and photojournalist Buzz Logan – view a selection of images
In October 1976, Buzz Logan arrived on the Shankill from Dublin, where he was working as staff photographer with the Irish Independent. That first day he had an immediate rapport with the Shankill and its people, seeing similar images and conditions in the north side of Dublin. He only came for one day to take a few photographs and meet some people; he ended up never really leaving.
Buzz was born on a farm in Ballynure, South Antrim and always remained a ’son of the soil’. His upbringing on the farm gave him a sense of the seasons and light and a sensitivity to what counts in life; simplicity, growth, change and creativity.
In 1965, he graduated from Queen’s University with an honours degree in psychology but decided to practice his first love, photography, to which he had been introduced to by his brother David. Following a year deep-sea fishing around Ireland, he returned to launch a journalistic career, first as a freelance in Dublin and then as a staff photographer with the Irish Independent.
After ten years, he became restless to develop other aspects of his photography, hence his unlikely alliance with the Shankill in 1976. The photographs of his first day developed into an exhibition, the exhibition became a book, The Shankill, produced during his days off from his Dublin staff job. The book resulted in a full-time commitment to the Shankill.
He set up the Shankill Photographic Workshop, teaching young people and promoting and practicing photography himself, building an unrivalled record of social conditions and a community suffering the trauma of redevelopment. His teaching stretched beyond the Shankill to young people in many other areas of Belfast. Buzz ‘blazed a trail’ in community photography.
Newspapers were his lifeblood and inevitably a local community newspaper was set up, The Shankill Bulletin, with Buzz providing the main thrust. Every month the social comment his photographs provided were seen by thousands of Shankill people. ‘Use the pictures big’ was his ground rule in the paper, and we did.
What made Buzz Logan invest the last 14 years of his life on the Shankill? First and foremost he was seeking the freedom to develop his love of photography. Secondly, he wanted to apply his skills where it would count, and on the Shankill he found the social conditions which provided the ground for this and a community group structure in which he could operate.
He would quote Yeats: 'All the true arts when young and happy are but the point of the spear whose handle is our daily life’. Today his life’s photographic work is stored in the Linen hall Library in Belfast, and will soon be made available for public access.
More could be written about Buzz Logan, his friendship, conviviality, his expansive mind, breadth of knowledge, but the final tribute lies in his own photography and record of the lives of the people of the Shankill. His bottom line was, ‘I just want to take great pictures’. He did just that.
This exhibition is an example of some of his work. More is to be done. But it shows some of his perspective of the road over 13 years. The photographs here come from Buzz, his working the Shankill Photographic Workshop and The Shankill Bulletin.
Buzz Logan – Shankill and Beyond runs at the Red Barn Gallery, Belfast until May 30.