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Belfast Exposed

By 11th February 2022September 23rd, 2022Galleries and Museums, Publishers, Organisations

Belfast Exposed

Founded 1983

Belfast Exposed are an independent, non-profit organisation and registered charity situated in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast. Founded in 1983 by a group of local photographers as a challenge to media representation of Belfast’s experience of conflict, their work continues to reflect a socially engaged ethos, while responding to contemporary currents in photography and politics further afield. 1


Thirty years ago, in the period following the intense social and psychological trauma of the 1980-1981 Hunger Strikes, teacher, trade unionist and community activist Danny Burke brought together a small team of local photographers to initiate an exhibition of amateur photography reflecting the experience of Belfast from the inside. The exhibition was called ‘Belfast Exposed’, and initially comprised over 200 photographs and slides, articulating the life of the city from predominately working class perspectives.

Opening on 17 October 1983 at the People’s Theatre, Conway Mill, on the nationalist side of the ‘peace wall’, the exhibition attracted interest from all over the city. Attempting to forge solidarities across Belfast’s sectarian divide, Belfast Exposed, as the group came to be known, represented the work of photographers from a range of political backgrounds, while recruiting a ‘cross community’ steering committee and, wherever possible, bringing exhibitions to venues in neutral and loyalist areas of the city.

Opening the exhibition at the Bank of Ireland Gallery in Baggot Street, Dublin in 1984, Seamus Heaney remarked on the “powerful, democratic feel running through these photographs”, which documented a common experience of unemployment, poor housing and economic deprivation, at once intensified by the effects of conflict and sectarian division and alleviated by the gritty humour of working class Belfast life. In the years that followed, new photographic practices began to emerge in Northern Ireland, providing critical tools for reimagining the future in a rapidly changing region.

While community experience of conflict remained an important focus their work, the challenge was to make this work more relevant and accessible for a new generation of audiences and photographers. Since moving to the city’s Cathedral Quarter in 2003, Belfast Exposed has engaged with many thousands of people: photographers, artists, activists, local communities, visitors to the city, students, school children and the public at large. Each has contributed to a substantial portfolio of exhibitions, publications and projects, often informed by questions that resonate with local experience: representation, identity, history, memory, commemoration and attachment to place. 2

Selected Exhibitions

Selected exhibitions

  • 2022, We, Us, Them, Deirdre Robb, Lesley Cherry, Belfast Exposed
  • 2021, 5th Aug – 25th Sept, Above the Fold, Noel Bowler, Belfast Exposed
  • 2021, 2nd Sept – 2nd Oct, A Blanket of Woven Shadows, David Copeland, Belfast Exposed
  • 2021, 7th Oct – 18th Dec, Beasts of Burden, Paul Seawright, Belfast Exposed,
  • 2008, 22 – 3 Oct, The Last Things, David Moore, Belfast Exposed

External links & References

  1. “About ” Belfast Exposed
  2. “History ” Belfast Exposed