A Bigger Picture: Photography Redefining Northern Ireland (co-programmed with British Journal of Photography)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Part of Belfast Photo Festival's New Narratives: a mini-series of online events exploring photography's role in our changing world.

Amongst Northern Irish art, particularly in relation to the Troubles, photography has been characterised as masculine and been dominated by male voices. This enduring tendency has cast a long shadow over the representation of Northern Ireland, of conflict, and on the participation and voices of women and queer artists in photography. While Northern Irish photography has established itself internationally as having a distinct and recognisable sensibility, noted for its insistence on subjectivity and sensitivity, it remains widely viewed as a male terrain. This view is reinforced by the gender imbalance in recent homegrown surveys as well as in the current makeup of the national collections.

This panel discussion offers a countertext to the omissions in representation engendered by the dominant straight white male voice, discussing some of the highly nuanced and challenging perspectives on Northern Ireland offered by artists in recent years.

In conjunction with A Bigger Picture exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery, co-programmed by Belfast Photo Festival 2022 and the Northern Irish Art Network.


(Host) Anna Liesching (Curator of Art, Ulster Museum, National Museums NI) is primarily responsible for the national collection of works of art on paper, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Gifted Collection and Troubles Art Archive. Her two main areas of research focus on redressing the underrepresentation of women artists from 1750 to present and the essential role of artists as activists, recognising art as a facet of the material culture of social history. She is co-founder and co-convener, alongside Clare Gormley, of the Northern Irish Art Network.

Dr. Clare Gallagher (Curator, The Bigger Picture, at Golden Thread Gallery) is lecturer for MFA Photography and BA (Hons) Photography with Video. She has written for Visual Artists Ireland, the British Journal of Photography and contributed a chapter for Stephen Bull's book A Companion to Photography (2020). She is a member of the Northern Irish Art Network and is on the board of the Belfast Photo Festival. Her practice examines ways of making visible the unseen work of home. Her recently published photobook, The Second Shift, was featured in The Guardian and others. She has exhibited internationally, most recently at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin and at the Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki for which she was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2021.

Emma Campbell is an activist, artist, academic and member of Turning Prize winning Array Collective, based in Belfast. Her work addresses photography as an activist tool, an artist practice and as reflexive academic inquiry in the movement for abortion rights. Inspired by practices employed by the women photography collectives in her historical research, she employs archive images, documentary, film, group performance, found images, street art and collage. Emma is co-convenor of Alliance for Choice.

Richard Gosnold is a photographic artist, based in Northern Ireland. His photobook, ‘It Starts With Silence’, was recently published by Kehrer and an interpretation of that work is being shown at Golden Thread Gallery from May 12th to July 9th. In this work, Gosnold addresses state-sanctioned violence, forced birth, baby loss, lack of access to compassionate healthcare and seeks to communicate the complexities of political decisions around bodily autonomy, which are commonly communicated as binary ideas.
Period24 Jun 2022
Event titleBelfast Photo Festival
Event typeConference