A Review of the Project

I’m delighted to have stumbled on this review of our work at Ebrington, by historian and professor, Margo Shea. You can see the review below or visit her interesting blog concerning history and memory here:

http://www.theflickeringlamp.org/2014/06/the-city-revisited-re-photographic.html

 

The City Revisited: A Re-photographic Study of Derry

A lot of really wonderful things happened in Derry, or Londonderry, (or Legenderry even,) last year when it became the first UK City of Culture.  For a small city, it’s been big at attracting interesting and creative people; last year there was funding and impetus for people to continue and build on that tradition.

One of my favorite projects was created by two photographers, Andy Horsman and Paul McGuckin.  They rephotographed iconic Derry photos, many taken over 100 years ago.  Using a large format camera that would have been used to take the originals (5″ x 4″,) they did some editing magic to knit the images together in surprising, poignant and occasionally haunting ways. You can check out their awesome blog to learn more about them, their technique and the evolution of the project. A montage of their work mashing up more contemporary cityscapes in Derry with scenes of the civil rights movement and the Troubles can be found here, at the BBC History website.

I didn’t know about the pictures and so I discovered them serendipitously. Many of the images were hung, mural-like, in the space  I was exploring — the most-dramatically changed aspect of Derry since my last visit: the site of the former Ebrington Barracks, which has been transformed into a public space that is commemorative in a pageantry-infused way. The longterm plan includes spaces for residential, commercial and cultural use.  It is connect by a pretty awe-inspiring suspension footbridge that links the city center to Ebrington.
Historians say the site at Ebrington was where King James II’s troops were camped during the Siege of Derry (1688-’89.) Finding it a good site , it was used as a barracks from the mid-eighteenth century, mostly housing locally recruited regiments. It was a parade ground in the 1840s.  From 1939, it was a navy base until 1970, when British soldiers used it as their barracks during the Troubles until 2003.

As military history (like most history) is often divisive in the city, and because the River Foyle, which runs between Ebrington and the Guildhall, was long seen as a kind of dividing line between the cityside and the Waterside, Catholic nationalist and Protestant unionist, this is symbolically a big step.  It’s also an important public space.  Northern Ireland had precious few of these.  Even before the Troubles raised fears of large gatherings, public spaces were limited in a congested city where order demanded everything and everyone having a place.


The first image I came across made is of the Carlisle Road, pictured here in the late 1800s, when my research starts  — knitted with the street  today.  Apt, as my house now lies just off the Carlisle Road.  

Here it is as I approached.  Below is a close up of the image.  You can see the historic cityscape, replete with horses and carriages on one side, cars on the other.  People from the past and those of contemporary Derry “meet in the middle” whilst crossing the street.  Today’s developed Waterside sits above the street on the opposite side of the Foyle.


 
 
As an historian of Catholic and nationalist derry, there are two images I find particularly captivating.  They are evocative as well as beautiful. I find them both deeply intuitive and suggestive about the histories of the city forCatholics and nationalists.



Here is an image of the Diamond today, knitted together with an image of a 1930s hiring fair in the front of the frame.  Hiring fairs took place several times a year in Derry.  Here’s  a quote about in the book draft about “The Rabble:”

The rabble days, or hiring fairs, while not feast days, were a traditional part of Derry life.  On the three successive Wednesdays after the 12th of May and the 12th of December, the Diamond came alive as farmers from the country came into town to hire on extra help for cutting turf, laying potatoes, pulling lint or other labor-intensive work.  Children as young as eleven were hired out as live-in help; some Derry families sent their children to earn much-needed money, but rural families also sent children who could be spared to Derry for the fairs.   Wages were measly. The best paid received between six and nine pounds for six months of labor, but they were the fortunate few. Others had parents who were willing to send them out work simply for food and a place to sleep, often in one of the farmer’s outbuildings.

For those being hired out, it was an unpleasant experience, similar to an auction.  Patrick Duffy, who worked as a hired hand in the thirties, did not get hired out at the fairs himself; however, he remembered the scene well, “Ye’d see boys in, them clapping hands, “I’ll give you so much.”  And then feeling your hand, feeling your muscles.  Ye were tested, boy.”

In 1970, as the Troubles ignited, one of the Derry men who has inspired me the most, Seamus Deane, wrote about the hiring fair as part of a shorthand for a long history:

My parents remembered the hiring fairs of the 1920s. They took place in the Diamond and were apparently a sight to make anyone with a conscience wince. Children who spoke no English were hired out to farmers and householders who spoke no Irish for 6 a year, payable upon completion of the work. I remember the ‘50s and one St. Patrick’s day in the Diamon when Eddie McAteer and the Nationalist Councillors turned down Shipquay Street, tricolour aloft, to face a brutal baton charge which sent us all catapulting through the streets. Then came October 5th . What had these events in common? People bartered, people battered.
I suppose it relates to the other picture that I find moving.  In it a young man looks over Derry’s walls into the Bogside of today. He stands where an army lookout tower stood until 10 years ago.  In his line of view are the small homes of “old Derry,” with George Walker staring down from his plinth as the talisman of Derry’s unionist and Protestant history and hero of the 1688-’89 Siege of Derry.

Homes that were crumbling, damp and overcrowded, that themselves became iconic in the histories of political gerrymandering and poverty. (And when they were finally destroyed, an easily surveilled landscape for the British Army took their place, but that’s another story.) Walker was “dislodged” from his pillar by the Provisional IRA in 1973. Only his head survived; it is on display at the Apprentice Boys Hall.

Exhibition at Ebrington for the UK City of Culture

It’s amazing to think how quickly the UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations seem to fly by. It was a brilliant year for Derry-Londonderry and it was a real privilege to have our photography displayed during the year. As it’s almost a year since our work was installed at Ebrington Square, Paul and I headed over last week to have a look at our work and to see how it had coped with the effects of the winter storms beating down on it. We’re delighted to say that, despite them being up for almost a year, the pictures are still looking great. Three of the billboards are still up, so if you’re in the area, have a look and let us know what you think.

Rephotography (or “then and now” photography as it is sometimes called) seems to have really taken off recently, with lots of people doing similar projects to mark events and anniversaries. Those that use photographs from the first and second world wars are particularly poignant. Whatever the project, and whether you use digital, or like us, the old-style large format camera with your head stuck under the black cloth, it’s great to see old photographs being used in different ways to be seen by a new generation. The original photographs that we merged our own images with, are over one hundred years old and were taken with a camera similar to ours. I wonder how the city will look in another hundred years… .

Carlisle Road

Carlisle Road

Bishop's Gate

Bishop’s Gate

Bishop's Gate

Bishop’s Gate

Guildhall Square and Peace Bridge

Guildhall Square and Peace Bridge

Information Panel

Information Panel

Exhibition at the Verbal Arts Centre

As well as the billboards in Ebrington, we’re delighted to have our smaller prints exhibited at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry-Londonderry.  They’re the pictures that we had on display at Stormont last month, so if you’re in town and fancy a look, then pop along for a browse.  They’re on display until October 26th:

http://www.cityofculture2013.com/venues/verbal-arts-centre/

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Pictures on display at Verbal Arts Centre

Ebrington Launch Night

After two years of work we finally had our launch night on Saturday, to celebrate the opening of our exhibition at Ebrington Square, Derry-Londonderry.  We were delighted that 50-60 people braved the monsoon conditions to join us for a tour of the exhibition, followed by a drinks reception during which we had a surprise visit from someone from the Turner Prize organisers who asked if any of our visitors wanted to be participants for one of the Turner artworks.  Exciting times!

Visitors on our Ebrington Tour

Visitors on our Ebrington Tour

The guys at BT Portrait of a City had set up some gazebos to serve as our venue for the night which worked brilliantly.  It allowed us to project our images on to the walls of the Clock Tower and it also meant that visitors could view the pictures that were commissioned by the BBC and were formerly exhibited at Stormont, and now at the Verbal Arts Centre.

Paul discussing the Carlisle Road image

Paul discussing the Carlisle Road image

Andrew discussing the image of Carlisle Road

Andrew discussing the image of Carlisle Road

So if you’re having a wander through Ebrington Square to see the Turner Prize exhibition at Ebrington, or just passing through then take some time to have a look.  We hope you enjoy the pictures.  Our further exhibition of images at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry-Londonderry lasts until October 26th.

Many thanks to everyone for your support in helping to make this happen!

Photographers Paul McGuckin and Andrew Horsman at the end their launch night

Photographers Paul McGuckin and Andrew Horsman at the end their launch night

Pre-launch setup in Ebrington Square

Pre-launch setup in Ebrington Square

Ebrington Exhibition Launch Invitation

So we’re pleased to announce that the Ebrington exhibition is about it launch!  We have an official launch on Saturday 19th October at Ebrington Square, Derry-Londonderry at 5pm, where we’ll do a brief tour of the images around the square.  This will be followed by a drinks

reception and a projection of the images on to the Clock Tower.

Everyone’s welcome, so it’d be great to see you!

Ebrington Invite

Culture Tech Festival

Contemplative Projection. Credit: Gav Connolly

Contemplative Projection. Credit: Gav Connolly

The City Revisited – The City Projected

The City Revisited – The City Projected.

It was a lucky happenstance moment that got us involved with the Culture Tech 2013 Festival.  We were checking out the locations for our billboards a couple of months ago in Ebrington Square and bumped into Mark and Rachel, the two organisers of the festival.  They’d just seen our work on the BBC and said they had a spare projector.  We put two and two together and the seeds of an idea were sowed.

Guildhall Square Projection

It was a hectic few months leading up to the festival, but we had firm ideas in our heads.  We wanted to project our images onto something the city could identify with; something that formed an integral part of the city.  The work involves rephotographing iconic scenes from around the city with a large format, 5″ x 4″ camera (similar to that used 100 years ago) and merging our photograph with the original.  We can show the passage of time and the changes that have occurred over the last 100 years ago, in one image.  So what could be better than to project those images onto the city’s 400 year old walls?

The projectors that we had been offered had already been well tested around the city.  We’d seen them previously used at the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend where they projected the video display for Calvin Harris’ set onto the Ebrington clock tower.  So we knew they were up to the job.  We just had to put together a slideshow or animation that would keep people interested and show some captivating images that people would recognise.  This was all at the same time as preparing the prints for display at Stormont, as well as helping to install the billboards at Ebrington!  Neither of us had ever been so busy as we were for those few weeks.

The Peace Bridge and City Hotel Credit: Chris Rodgers

The Peace Bridge and City Hotel

US Marines in Guildhall Square Credit: Chris Rodgers

US Marines in Guildhall Square

To make the animation more interesting to watch and not have that ‘Powerpoint’ corporate feel, we used Adobe’s Premiere Pro to produce the final edit of images, which helped with some slick transitions between images, as well as making it relatively straightforward to include a countdown video to jazz it up a bit.

Audience watching the projection Credit: Chris Rodgers

Audience watching the projection

The guys from Culture Tech put us in touch with people from Derry City Council and ILEX who all came together to provide the power and a van on the day, then all we had to do was test it and set it up on the day!

We were delighted that freelance journalist Will Burton had an article published in the Irish Times on the day of the festival, describing Culture Tech and showcasing our work.  That evening several people arrived saying they came to see us because of that article, so thanks, Will!

Ebrington Acrobats

Ebrington Acrobats

The slideshow ran from 8-10pm on September 14th at the Guildhall Square, with the Guildhall building towering over us.   People walked past from Waterloo Place and Foyle Road and it was great to see how many of them stopped and watched the slideshow.  It lasted for just over 5 minutes, but people seemed to see something new every time it looped.  Teenagers loved interacting with the projection making shadow signs, we even had a skateboarder who ollied for us as he went past.  Older people stopped to tell us they recognised scenes from the pictures, of buildings long since gone, of where they worked or socialised.

The Guildhall Projection

The Guildhall Projection

Audience watching the projection

Audience watching the projection

We’ve posted a few pictures from the slideshow below, which give a good feel for what the projection involved.  I had in my head an idea of the 19th Century photographers William Lawrence, Robert French and James Glass all looking down on us, with our version of the old magic lanterns creating mysterious shapes and patterns on the old city walls.  So I hope in some way they’d be pleased.

http://culturetech.co/event/2013-09-14/the-city-revisited-the-city-projected

Images of the projections are credit Chris Rodgers unless otherwise stated.

Panoramic view of the Guildhall Square Credit: Paul Stewart

Panoramic view of the Guildhall Square
Credit: Paul Stewart

Irish Times article by William Burton

Irish Times article by William Burton

Bishop's Gate

Bishop’s Gate

The Star Factory

The Star Factory

Andrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers

Andrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers

Andrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers. Credit Paul StewartAndrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers. Credit Paul Stewart

The projection van and Guildhall

The projection van and Guildhall

Exhibition at Stormont Parliament Buildings

Opening launch of Stormont exhibition. Pictured (l-r) are Paul McGuckin, photographer; Declan Sheehan, curator Portrait of a City; Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr William Hay MLA; Rachel Heron Sponsorship Manager BT; and Andrew Horsman, photographer.

Opening launch of Stormont exhibition. Pictured (l-r) are Paul McGuckin, photographer; Declan Sheehan, curator Portrait of a City; Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr William Hay MLA; Rachel Heron Sponsorship Manager BT; and Andrew Horsman, photographer.

Following the theme of a very busy few weeks, a selection of our images have now been installed in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.  We had a great day visiting the exhibition and attending a photo call with some MLAs and chatting about our work.  The pictures are being exhibited until September 20th.

You can see the press release from the City of Culture media office below, as well as a few pictures that we took of the day.

Stormont Exhibition Merges Derry~Londonderry’s

Past And Present

A fascinating photographic exhibition merging images of Derry-Londonderry from around the turn of the 20th Century with images from the present day has been installed at Parliament Buildings in Stormont.

The City Revisited – A Rephotographic Study is part of Derry-Londonderry 2013 UK City of Culture’s flagship community engagement project BT Portrait of a City.

Derry~Londonderry has a rich photographic history from around the turn of the 20th century – a seminal time for both the medium and the city. In this unique project, two photographers, Paul McGuckin and Andrew Horsman, collaborated to re-visit the precise locations where images were photographed over 100 years ago.

Once the exact location was found, they re-photographed the images, using the same camera that was used originally (a large format, 5” x 4” camera).  The new and the original images were then merged to show the changes that have occurred over the past 100 years, in a unique, single image.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition Speaker of the Assembly, William Hay MLA said:

“I am delighted to host this exhibition in Parliament Buildings, which showcases a city with which I have a deep personal connection. These fascinating images blend past and present to highlight the changes that have occurred across the city over the past century. The photographs draw on and bring to life the rich cultural history and architecture of the city that means so much to me. By bringing past and present together in this unique way, the photographers have given the people of the area — and beyond — a real sense of their shared past and the journey the city has been on over the last 100 years. I am glad that we have been able to provide this opportunity at Parliament Buildings for an additional audience to view part of the exhibition at the same time as it is on display in Derry/Londonderry.”

Curator of BT Portrait of a City, Declan Sheehan said:

“The ‘City Revisited’ project engages with the principles BT Portrait of a City by creating a people’s archive.  It will work with communities across the city to recreate personal photographs, applying the same principles that are used in rephotographic practice. By referencing archives of over 400 photographs of Derry/Londonderry, the project presents an ideal opportunity to reconnect people with their shared history.”

Peter Morris, BT director of Corporate Services said; “As part of our on-going commitment to BT Portrait of a City we are delighted to add our further support to this latest unique and innovative project the ‘City Revisited’. Through the use of digital technology, important images, old and new, are merged together resulting in an outstanding exhibition of photography, not to be missed. We recognise the value of maintaining this historic archive and our BT Connected Community groups are offering digital skills workshops to help even more people get involved. We look forward to seeing the project develop and grow leaving a lasting legacy for us all.”

The exhibition will be on show in the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings from 2 September to 20 September 2013and can also be enjoyed by the people of Derry-Londonderry as it will simultaneously be on display at a larger scale, as six billboards size images, in the city’s Ebrington Square.

http://www.cityofculture2013.com/2013/09/stormont-photographic-exhibition-merges-derrylondonderrys-past-and-present/

Andrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers

Andrew Horsman and Paul McGuckin, photographers

Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Pictures in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Pictures in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Picture in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Picture in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

The City Revisited info panel

The City Revisited info panel

Pictures in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, StormontPictures in-situ in the Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont