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

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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

Modern wet plate pictures of the Afghan conflict

We’re always keen to explore new ways of capturing images and one of the reasons we use the large format 5″ x 4″ camera is that it slows us down, it makes us contemplate what we’re photographing (an hour of having your head under the black cloth in the summer heat can do that to you!). Of course, it also helps to connect us to the past, to understand what photographers 100 years ago were thinking and what they had to contend with. All of this is particularly important when we’re doing rephotography which we feel gives us a truer feel to our images.

So it was especially exciting when we found this article on the Guardian blog about a photographer who’s based with the US Army in Afghanistan. Ed Drew is taking pictures of soldiers using a wet plate 5″ x 4″ camera, reminiscent of the Civil War images taken by the likes of Mathew Brady. Anyway, it’s given us food for thought, maybe it’s the next stage in our City Revisited project!

Enjoy the article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/photography-blog/2013/jul/22/photography-art?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Andy & Paul

Okay, so after doing some reading around the large format cameras in the last post, I stumbled on what looks like a fascinating project to document the use of box cameras in Afghanistan. Completely manual, with no shutter (the lens cap is used instead), the film is ‘developed’ inside the box. The camera’s use is now dwindling and the project’s aim is to record it’s use before it disappears completely. It’s well worth a read:

http://www.afghanboxcamera.com

Our Camera

The Large Format Camera

The large format camera

It’s about time that we told you a bit about the camera that we use on both projects. It’s a large format camera, which uses 5″ x 4″ film.  It’s based on the technology used by photographers 100 years ago, though it’s actually a new camera and has the same beautiful combination of wooden frame with metal hinges and bellows that photographers such as Robert French and R. J. Welch would have used in Ireland at the turn of the last century. The only difference is that we use film rather than glass plates that are difficult to source and process.

The reason that we use this camera is simply because it uses the same technology that French and Welch used.  Re-photography is all about putting ourselves in exactly the same position as the original photographer.  Understanding their process, what they were thinking when they clicked the shutter, what they wanted to include and what to leave out of their shot are all things we consider, just like with any camera.  But using a large format camera involves a lengthy process of examining an image upside and back to front with a lupe, under a black cloth, and given that it can cost £10 every time you take a picture, we tend to do everything quite slowly!  If we take 3 pictures in a morning, we’ve been very busy.

We’ll describe more about our actual process in later posts, but hopefully this gives you an idea of why we use such a beautiful piece of equipment. The couple of pictures that we’ve attached to this post show you the camera itself, as well as shot taken under the hood during our BBC project.

Under the hood

Under the hood