See a Different Side to Ireland this Spring

Claire McKeever rounds up an assortment of exhibitions each offering a unique take on the people and places around us

As springtime finally starts to take shape, there are a number of photography, video and visual art installations on display across the province that are likely to take viewers on a unique journey through Ireland – introducing lesser-known spots, interesting characters and providing valuable insight into our past, present and quite possibly, our future...

Framed: People and Place in Irish Photography

Ulster Museum - Ends February 21

This month will be the last opportunity to see a series of historical photographs at the Ulster Museum. The exhibition shares the 'history, topography and personalities of Ireland' using images dating back to the 1850s, a time at which photography was only being introduced to the world.

This display of photos provides a great opportunity to look at the Ireland of bygone days, and is particularly special given the fact that most of these images were the first ever shots to be taken on camera of Ireland.


Barry Turton Exhibition

Waterside Theatre, Derry - Ends February 28

Although not quite a photography exhibition, Barry Turton’s unique and colourful images of Derry are inspired by photos his father and uncle took of the city over 40 years ago. His images not only take inspiration from photos taken all those years ago but also draw on ones he came across more recently.

If anything, Turton’s images provide an opportunity to reflect on the changes Derry has undergone over the years and serve as a beautiful artistic representation of the city that once was, and is.


Beyond Maps and Atlases by Bertien van Manen

Belfast Exposed - Ends March 19

In this exhibition at Belfast Exposed’s gallery, Bertien Van Manen, a renowned dutch photographer, shares her collection of inspiring photos from a trip around Ireland after losing her husband. The images - also available to purchase as a book - capture Ireland in a unique and mysterious way.

An image of riders galloping on horses along Tulan Beach in Donegal. Another, a very still Van Manen stood beside a local lady in her home. A man diving into undoubtedly cold waters… Not your typical tourist images you might say.

Speaking in September, Van Manen said: 'At first, working in Ireland I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. My husband had died. I dispensed with the people and reflected on the atmosphere. I was guided by a feeling and a search, a longing for some kind of meaning in a place of myths and legends. There was mystery and endlessness at the edge of a land beyond which is nothing but a vast expanse.'

Beyond Maps 1

Jason McCartan: Abandoned Tyrone

Alley Theatre, Strabane - March 7 - April 1 

At the Alley Theatre this spring, photographer Jason McCartan keeps alive the history of some of Northern Ireland’s oldest buildings, with an exhibition sharing his images of derelict houses in Co.Tyrone. His photos capture curious details, such as the items left behind by previous owners, and ivy sprawled across crumbling walls (inside and out).

When interviewed recently, the photographer said the following about the journey he took to capture these unique images: 'If I’m out in the car, there’s nothing I like to see more than a tin roof – to my wife’s dismay. I’ll think nothing of slamming on the brakes and heading off to find out more about it… But when I do visit one of the houses, I say, "I’ll be back in an hour." I set up my tripod with long exposure and all of a sudden I can get lost. I can be there, six, seven, eight hours – time flies.'

Jason McCartan Abandoned Tyrone

Mariah Garnett: Other & Father

The Mac, Belfast - Ends April 24

This work by LA-based artist Mariah Garnett, has just been launched at The MAC. It will be the first solo exhibition for the artist in the UK, whose work typically mixes documentary, narrative and experimental filmmaking practices.

In this installation, a double video projection is shown in the main gallery: one channel showing BBC archival footage of Garnett’s father, David (originally from Northern Ireland), filmed in 1971, and another presenting her own re-staging of this material, shot in 2015.

A third channel pictures the artist’s father watching the original footage of himself for the first time, and his reactions reveal the liberties taken by the broadcasting body at the time to present their own version of this moment in Northern Ireland.

An intriguing and brave exhibition by the artist, especially given the material is so personal at times.

Mariah Garnett 2