Our Foot's in the Door: Expanding the Field of Northern Irish Photography

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


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 and of conflict, and on the participation and voices of women 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 such as Colin Graham’s book and the Golden Thread Gallery’s Portrait of Northern Ireland exhibition as well as in the current makeup of the national collections.

My previous doctoral research focused on the invisibility of subject matter associated with women, particularly relating to the home, itself an arena of heightened significance in wider Northern Irish and Irish culture. As a lecturer in photography at the Belfast School of Art I am acutely aware of the impact of these hierarchical perceptions and associations of subject matter and voice on the predominantly female student demographic. In this paper I would like to present an analysis of the omissions in representation engendered by the dominant straight white male voice and to offer up some examples of student and graduate work by women which present highly nuanced and challenging perspectives on Northern Ireland.
Period21 Jan 2022
Event titleNorthern Ireland’s Feminist and Queer Art Histories: Courtauld Institute
Event typeConference