Belfast Photo Festival 2022

Belfast Photo Festival takes audiences to The Verge with 2022 programme.

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Belfast Photo Festival

© Alexandra Lethbridge | Images from ‘An Object of Vision’ by Alexandra Lethbridge, from her exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery

Belfast Photo Festival, Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival, has revealed its full programme as it prepares to take over art galleries and public spaces throughout Belfast this June with compelling and immersive exhibitions under its theme ‘The Verge’.

Festival returns from 03 – 30 June with focus on emergent forms of image-making.

This year’s festival will explore untold stories, underrepresented narratives and perspectives on the world that too often go unseen, examining photography’s ability to shine light on hidden subject matter while also presenting artists who turn their lens to the past and utilise the archive in their work.

Commenting on the programme, Clare Gormley, Head of Programmes & Partnerships at Belfast Photo Festival, says: “Celebrating photography that pushes against dominant social, cultural, historical and visual frameworks, this year’s festival features the work of artists who find themselves – both conceptually and aesthetically – on the verge of new territories. They bring forth new perspectives on the world we live in, the past we inherit and lead us to the verge of something altogether new.”

© Tabitha Soren | Surface Tension by Tabitha Soren, taken from the exhibition ‘Against The Image’. 

Coinciding with the launch of the programme is the opening of the festival’s first exhibition this year, A Bigger Picture.

Presented by Belfast Photo Festival and the Northern Irish Art Network, A Bigger Picture invites audiences to view Northern Ireland through the underrepresented gaze of feminist and queer artists from the Belfast School of Art.

“Northern Irish photography has established itself internationally as having a distinct and recognisable sensibility,” remarks exhibition curator Dr Clare Gallagher, a lecturer in photography at Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art.

“However, it remains widely viewed as a masculine terrain, dominated by male voices,” Dr Gallagher adds.

“The images that define this place have been largely captured through the male gaze. What this exhibition offers is a countertext, an alternative perspective that addresses the omissions in representation, not only in Northern Irish photography, but in the narrative of what it means to be from here.”

© Kensuke Koike | Image by Kensuke Koike, taken from the exhibition ‘Alternative Ulster’. 

Delivered in association with Ulster Presents at Ulster University, the group exhibition presents highly nuanced and challenging perspectives on Northern Ireland. A Bigger Picture is on display at Golden Thread Gallery until 9 July.

Belfast Photo Festival director, Michael Weir, says: “How fitting it is that the first exhibition to open our 2022 programme is by a collective of fifteen emerging artists through whose gaze we are offered a new perspective on Northern Ireland; a body of work that weaves a rich tapestry of love and loss, hope and struggle, bringing into focus people and place through a less seen, but powerful feminist and queer gaze.”

Alongside the reveal of its 2022 programme, the festival has also announced Zora J Murff as this year’s Spotlight Award winner for his project American Mother, American Father.

Last year’s winner, Alexandra Lethbridge, will return to the festival this year with a new body of work. Commissioned by Belfast Photo Festival, An Object of Vision charts the exclusion of women from historical narratives through a series of still lives and collages constructed to position women in the picture. The series asks what is lost when the stories and perspectives of women are eliminated from history and sets out to respond to this by reconstructing and creating new alternative images.

Among this year’s other highlights is Alternative Ulster, a new body of work by renowned Japanese artist Kensuke Koike which draws on the photographic archives of National Museums NI (NMNI) and the Public Records office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to present an alternative vision of Northern Ireland’s past. Set to be installed in the grounds of Queen’s University Belfast, the artist’s use of techniques including cutting, collaging and layering to rework the original images make surreal the historic depictions of Northern Ireland contained within two of our most historically important archives of photography.

© Shannon Ritchie | SIGNS by Shannon Ritchie, taken from the exhibition ‘A Bigger Picture’. 

Featuring the works of Victor Sloan, Tabitha Soren and Alexandra Rose Howland, Against the Image at Ulster Museum examines the authority of the photograph in an era of mass media and mass (mis)information. It exposes the tension between the truth of events and how they are presented. The featured artists challenge and expose the highly subjective and mediated nature of photography, distorting and manipulating images to expose narratives that often go unseen.

From Covid and the climate crisis to global conflicts and the mass displacement and migration of people, Capturing the Now in Botanic Gardens is dedicated to the work of photographers who provide an inside look at the most pressing events of our era as we live through an historic global moment of environmental, political and social upheaval.

Renowned for its creative presentations and animation of public spaces with captivating visual art, this year’s festival will once again stimulate curiosity and discussion with a range of open air exhibitions along Botanic Gardens, Queen's University Quad, Belfast City Quays, Belfast City Hall Lawn and Stormont Estate.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michael Long says: “I’m delighted to see Belfast Photo Festival and the Northern Irish Art Network join forces to present this important body of work from feminist and queer artists from the Belfast School of Art. We are so fortunate that Belfast is home to such talented artists, who encourage us to see the world in different ways – and who bring new perspectives to our lives. Belfast is becoming an increasingly diverse city – and that’s something to be celebrated without doubt. With diversity comes a richness of experience and a host of narratives to be explored and understood.

© Marta Bogdanska | Image by Marta Bogdanska, from her project ‘Shifters’ on display at Botanic Gardens. 

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, adds: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support Belfast Photo Festival. Thanks to The National Lottery players, this popular festival returns for 2022 with an impressive programme celebrating the work of local, national and international contemporary photographers. I’m particularly pleased to see the festival include a series of open air exhibitions at Queen’s University, Botanic Gardens and Belfast Harbour Quay, which will undoubtedly capture attention, engage and inspire new audiences as people go about their day. Congratulations to the dedicated team at Belfast Photo Festival and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy what the festival has to offer.”

“I’d encourage everyone to take this opportunity to view the world around them through a different lens by visiting A Bigger Picture at Golden Thread Gallery, and during the rest of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival, which Belfast City Council is very proud to support.”

Belfast Photo Festival is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Arts & Business, Belfast Harbour and Alexander Boyd Displays.

For more information on this year’s festival, visit and keep up to date on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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