Through the Lens - Arts Council Touring Exhibition
Various Venues throughout Northern Ireland, 6th October 1992 - 7th April 1993.
Review by John Shade
This exhibition features the work of twelve Northern Irish photographers each well known in their own right through appearance in exhibitions, publications and inclusion in private collections. The photographs vary widely in their subject matter and style - from the atmospheric landscape studies of Errol Forbes and Stephen Lowry to the social documentation of Paul Seawright and the wry political commentary of Victor Sloan. Sonya Whitefield focuses on family situations in an unusual and up-beat way, while Lynn Connolly, whose work is based on the "piecing together of fragments, linking memories and contextualising rites of passage", produces highly coloured images to powerful effect.
Some of the photographs have been executed in series: Helen Maginn's "A day in the life of Finbar Maginn - aged six months" is based upon the perceived experiences of her six month old son; the images become Finbar's view from his cot and pram, with delightful results. Peter Neill's "Monolith" series focuses on outdoor subjects, such as stone gateposts, familiar to all of us yet strangely "new" when photographed effectively in black and white. He says himself "I have tried to make a straight, honest photograph of each subject without the use of colour, clever lighting, zoom lenses, filters etc. In the darkroom I made a simple print without manipulation, to shoot the singular selfness of the subject and my feeling for it". Hazel Neill's series entitled "Passing Through" is in colour, her work aiming to capture the "mundane and ordinary details of landscape or environment-things which usually go unnoticed, but are sometimes glimpsed in passing". BilI Kirk, widely known for his pictorial work for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, exhibits in contrast his personal black and white documentary work. Jim Maginn shows some of his work dealing with cultural traditions here. Donovan Wylie provides us with telling images of aspects of the culture in which we live.
The interesting thing about this selection is that almost all of the photographers in the exhibition are members of Photo Works North.