Tuesday, 3 July 2007

"The Northern Family" Project - The Big Picture

This is an ongoing project recording daily life in Northern Ireland. In time it will become more representative.

Folio I was exhibited at the Linen Hall library for the month of August 2006. They gave me the full gallery plus all the rest of the building to fill with the photographs.

Folio II was exhibited at the 2007 Balmoral Show in Belfast. This was outside along a 150' wall with 40 images of either 6x4' or 4x3'.

Here is a picture from the most recent exhibition which was also featured by the BBC. These 2 men are pig farmers I caught them having a chat in a pigpen at the Balmoral Agricultural show in Belfast in 2006. They told me this year that they reckon they are famous especially as this photograph was blown up to 6 feet by 4 feet.


This was featured on the BBC website :- Click here to see it

The next folio is an attempt to record a community in Belfast. Everyone from the very young to very old and in as many different social and work environments as possible. I also intend to photograph the streets, houses, shops and workplaces.


"The Northern Family" is a major project being undertaken by Louis McCullagh to record ordinary life in Belfast/N.Ireland. This will cover all aspects of life and work by all age groups/sections of the community.

The main impetus behind the project is the thought that whilst in previous decades many photographic essays of daily life and work were commissioned for magazines this is no longer the case with the dominance of TV and the Internet. There is no shortage of images of 'The Troubles in N.Ireland' but who is recording ordinary daily life in any sort of systematic or detailed way.

Louis' heroes are Willi Ronis, Robert Doisneau, Lewis Hine and August Sander who recorded the ordinary life of their respective countries' citizens with a special emphasis on street life and workers. August Sander went a bit further and photographed various groups of people brought together by work, art and communities.

The first part is the 3500+ images taken of Stranmillis Primary School from which 55 images were selected for the first exhibition. Louis has recorded not just the activities of the staff and children but the atmosphere and emotions of school life and indeed childhood itself.

The second part is 1700+ images of the Balmoral show taken in 2006 which formed a major exhibition at the 2007 show from 16-18 May07.

The method of working is to select a specific subject and then record all aspects related to that subject through the medium of photography. The photographs are all unposed and natural giving a genuinely authentic glimpse of ordinary life.

Each of the subjects can be regarded as a piece of a big jigsaw; over time these pieces together will form a clear picture of life in Northern Ireland today.

It is intended that the images recorded of the business/community life will give special attention to small businesses/services, particularly those that are in danger of disappearing. The subjects will include: work, play, sport, religion, particular locations, specific communities, music and events.

"The Northern Family" is therefore not a record of places but a record of how we live our daily lives.

This initial work in the project has not been funded by any organisation but it is hoped that in time the exhibition will encourage both public and private involvement. Many thanks are due to The Linenhall Library, British Telecom, Arts&Business and the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society for their support and encouragement of the 2 exhibitions of the project todate.

There are currently no funds for the "The Village" -A Community Portrait.

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