Belfast Exposed is proud to present “A Lightness of Touch”, the showstopping end-of-year degree show for the MFA Photography graduates at Ulster University. This exhibition connects a broad range of thoughts, experiences, and feelings. The content is far-reaching and diverse with works by national and international artists. What binds the artists of this show together is not the subject of their work, but their sensitive and tender approach towards capturing their subjects; a particular lightness of touch.
Belfast Exposed, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple lockdowns, has spent the last year supporting and promoting new talent and this show is a continuation of that committed and essential work.
"Supporting emerging talent is ever more important as we ease out of Lockdown and each and every of these MFA graduates demonstrates talent in their respective genres. Within the show, there is evidence of a very human approach that deals with topics that are considered challenging. The works are profound with a tenderness not often seen in group shows and the sensitivity embraces the audiences into new ways of seeing." - Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive, Belfast Exposed.
The exhibition touches upon relationships with family, community, and environments. After a year of global protests, isolation and illness, the exhibition stands boldly in the face of abuse, conflict, separation and delves into masculinity, sexuality and interaction with the landscape. It is political, socially engaging, and expresses a longing for connection, each work in a unique and personal way; all underpinned by a careful and thoughtful gaze.
The artists come from all over the world and include Roula Patra, Claire French, Paul Greenfield, Stephen Kelly, Niall Ruddy, John Post, Ian F. Simpson, Martin Reynolds, Rob Stead, Iryna Baklan, Jolane Schaffner, Clare Lyons, Gavin Martin and Mark Bell.
Artist Statement regarding my Exhibit
I am a baby boomer! Like many people in my generation, I was brought up to believe that financial success would enable happiness and that it was important to work hard and accumulate material wealth. Getting married, owning a house and car and having job prospects were all important signs of success. Now, as we near the end of our lives, I have been documenting my cohort as we move into retirement. In particular, I want to show a glimpse into the lives of baby boomers, amidst what they consider to be their treasure.
My SELF MADE project highlights, from the point of view of an insider, a group of baby boomers relaxing in their homes or in pursuit of their hobbies. The project has been described as People who have everything but nothing; and nothing but everything. My peers are shown in a range of settings and a variety of activities; what constitutes their treasure may be noticed and interpreted in very different ways. What is “everything” and “nothing” in the lives depicted?
I want the viewers to be slightly perplexed at what they are seeing, but also intrigued by the ambiguity of the images: are these ageing baby boomers happy or sad? Lonely or connected? Fulfilled or bitter? Healthy or unwell? Do they have everything or nothing?
The double entendre, SELF MADE, might first suggest that the viewers will be seeing images of external material success. However, they may discover once they examine the pictures, that the work depicts people who have made themselves, in a deeper sense, over a lifetime of experience and development.
And given the negative feelings from some of the younger generations who blame the baby boomers for issues such as global warming, I want to prompt the question: have they simply taken advantage of the prevailing conditions, or have they knowingly impoverished the lives of future generations?
My practice involves an element of construction and blurs the boundaries between the art, documentary and family genres, often with a degree of humour, à la Martin Parr. It is also important to me that my images are as close to the natural settings of the subjects as possible: in this regard, I am as a fly on the wall and most of my work avoids the direct gaze, placing the subject in a natural setting.
Click here to listen to a 15 minute talk on the SELF MADE project by the artist in conjunction with the BX Gallery, Belfast.
An extract from a review of the exhibition "Slavka Sverakova on Visual art":-
"I saw images ... composed as if from above at an angle of 30 -45 degrees... Painterly quality of tonality, yet acutely sharp details. His love being there is easily felt. Gentle modulation of light ( I have no idea how this is done) moves his print very near a painting, when viewed online, and the tactile traces of the brush are not legible. It is the subtle light over water and stones that the camera is made to translate into a well balanced impression of being there. The image engages more than just an eye."