Arts

Ulster Museum selfie exhibition showcases the changing face of Belfast

Paul Bell and Mary-Frances Bell, who participated in the Belfast Self-Portrait project

AN EXHIBITION of more than 100 'selfies' is the outcome of a project involving members of the public taking their own pictures in specially set-up photographic studios in Belfast last year.

Belfast Self-Portrait, currently on at the Ulster Museum, is part of a community photography project which, according to organisers, offers "a unique visual snapshot of the changing demographics of Belfast".

More than 200 members of the public took up the offer to snap themselves when studios were set up in CastleCourt Shopping Centre and the Ulster Museum in the autumn, taking over 1,000 self-portraits in total. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the project is a partnership between Queen's University Belfast, CastleCourt and the museum that aims to offer "an alternative perspective of a city that continues to be seen through the prism of division and conflict".

The format was developed in Birmingham in the 1970s, at a time of heightened anxieties about race and immigration, by photographers Brian Homer and Timm Sonnenschein, who were in Belfast for the Ulster Museum show launch.

“We hope that this exhibition will provide a historic photographic record of a city going through a period of significant social and cultural change," QUB lecturer Dr Kieran Connell, an expert in social and cultural history who headed the project, said.

"After the exhibition we will be donating the material to the Ulster Museum, where it will then become a kind of time capsule that documents, for future generations, the changing faces of Belfast today.”

All the images taken will be given to the museum as part of its ‘Collecting the Troubles and Beyond’ project.

:: Runs until September 3; free admission. More at http://nmni.com/um/What-s-on/Current-Exhibitions/Belfast-Self-Portrait

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