Ulster Museum

Temporary/Permanent

This exhibition of photographs taken by the well-known Belfast photographer Frankie Quinn marks the 50th anniversary of the first peace wall being erected in Belfast.

Tue 10 Sep 2019 - Sun 10 Nov 2019

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Location: Belfast Room, Ulster Museum

Temporary/Permanent is a photographic exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the erection of the first Belfast peace wall based on photographs taken by Frankie Quinn over a period of 25 years. 

“The context to the work is unique in that I live yards from one of the most prominent structures, they impact my life on a daily basis.” – Frankie Quinn 

Frankie Quinn began his work on the peacelines in 1994, believing it was important to document these structures which seemed vulnerable to removal as the peace process began. This first series of photographs was published in the book ‘Interface Images‘by Belfast Exposed on 31 September 1994, the day the first IRA ceasefire began, and a time of optimism.

The photographs in Series II were taken in 2002, by which time the mood had changed and sectarian tensions had heightened again.  There were violent clashes within the Short Strand community where Frankie lived. Peacelines were refurbished all over the city and territories were again being marked out.

Image: Series II North Belfast © Frankie Quinn (www.frankiequinn.com)
Series II North Belfast © Frankie Quinn (www.frankiequinn.com)

In response to the NI Executive initiative to dismantle the walls by 2023, Frankie began Series III in 2012.  The initiative had created dialogue among concerned interface groups, examining ways to create the conditions whereby the walls could eventually come down, but political stalemate meant that few walls were actually removed.

Image: Series IV Alexandra Park, North Belfast © Frankie Quinn (www.frankiequinn.com)
Series IV Alexandra Park, North Belfast © Frankie Quinn (www.frankiequinn.com)

This year, Frankie’s work to document the Belfast peacelines continues with his fourth study. It is now 50 years since the first walls were erected as a ‘temporary measure’. These latest colour photographs reveal the detail and construction materials used that have, over time, created their own aesthetic - the rusting metal, military green, grey concrete and crumbling brick. Plant colonisation and natural decay can be seen to be gradually removing the walls from sight as they are subsumed into the landscape.

This exhibition is being presented as part of our ongoing Troubles and Beyond initiative.