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Conflicting Images: new photographic exhibition on ‘The Troubles’ opens at Ulster Museum

A new exhibition focussing on photography during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland has opened at the Ulster Museum.

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Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles’ is a major exhibition based on National Museums NI’s Historic Photographic Collections, looking at the role photography played during ‘The Troubles’, and how photography itself changed and developed during these years of conflict. 

It features over 140 images including important original works by local photographers Martin Nangle, Bill Kerr, and Frankie Quinn. The new exhibition also includes two studio prints by Gilles Peress, a major international force in the history of the photography of conflict. These are the first representations of original work by Peress work held in National Museums NI collections.

Photographs featured in the exhibition provide a direct visual reference to significant moments and milestones during The Troubles as well as an evocative reminder of what everyday life in Northern Ireland looked like for many people during these turbulent times.

Curator of the exhibition, Vivienne Pollock explains; “Photography brought Northern Ireland to the eyes of the world during ‘The Troubles’ in a very particular way. When violence erupted in 1969, international photojournalism, its style honed in the Vietnam War, flew in to witness and report.  This overview was quickly challenged by a wave of young, local press and freelance photographers, driven to bring local perspective, experience and context into the wider picture. 

Vivienne Pollock added; “This exhibition is not intended to be a chronological catalogue of major events during ‘The Troubles’. It is rather a reflection of the many ways in which this painful period of Northern Ireland’s history was viewed by professional and amateur photographers, and how these visions combine to offer new and often profound insights into how the realities of life during these years were captured on camera.”

The range of photography shown in ‘Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles’ includes exciting work by individual professional photographers and photojournalists, as well as original material from the Museum’s own archives of field work and records photography, from agencies such as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Ministry of Planning, and from significant collections of images deposited by the Radio Times, by Ulster Television and by on-the-spot amateur observers.

Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles’ is part of a wider Heritage Lottery Fund-funded initiative ‘Collecting Cultures; Collecting the Troubles and Beyond’, a three-year project which aims to widen the scope of National Museums NI’s collection through greater community engagement.  The project involves bridging gaps in the existing collection and acquiring items of particular national and international significance or those which are rare and represent the best examples of their kind.

The ‘Conflicting Images: Photography during the Northern Irish Troubles’ exhibition will run until November 2017.  Admission is free.