Issue 2 — Autumn Winter 1992
Looking around me in the last few months, the once familiar photographic landscape has begun to change. I had become accustomed to the wilderness in Northern Ireland, visitors would often ask why have we never discovered the joys of photography? Five years ago I returned from London where I had joined with other photography students to lament the profile of the medium within the Arts. Moving back to Northern Ireland soon revealed England to be the Garden of Eden.
Adjusting to difficult situations, that's what we are best at in this province, we have all learnt to be optimists and we all know how to accept our lot. The plight of public access to the photographic arts has been obscured like many things in Northern Ireland by excuses, bureaucracy and political whitewash. It has been like a breath of fresh air therefore, to see photography not only exhibited but taught in workshops, debated among practitioners, written about and at last given a recognised identity.
The change has been overdue but a new awareness is certainly evolving slowly as we might expect. OMAC (The Old Museum Arts Centre) in Belfast has been exhibiting work by local photographers as well as bringing international touring exhibitions to Belfast for the first time in many years. The Ulster Museum exhibited a selection of photographs recently purchased for its Collection and followed this with the highly acclaimed Rachael Brown (Giese) show 'Sweeney's Flight'. Photo Works North opened its first exhibition in Ross's Court, to mark the beginning of an exhibition initiative for alternative spaces. The lottery show was launched in Dublin, not only an achievement in its inception and organisation, but by the sheer wealth of imagery derived from Irish photographers hanging comfortably beside some of 'the greats'. The workshop programme began with Jonathan Howe's 5x4 weekend, all the participants wanted to sign up for more.
At this point we need to look to the future. Photo Works North through the obvious enthusiasm and dedication of it's members, has begun to sow some seed on the wilderness. Simply speaking we can go no further than initiation without financial support. It is important that we are able to continue our exhibition, publication and education programme and build on what we have started. The lottery show will help us maintain the momentum until funding applications have been considered. The committee would urge you to lend your support in buying lottery tickets and in voluntary help to ensure that we can continue to change the public perception of photography in Northern Ireland.
— Paul Seawright - Editor