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Belfast Exposed - Mervyn Smith

On Friday 4th November Bangor and North Down Camera Club were joined by Mervyn Smith from Belfast Exposed who has been with the group for 30years. Mervyn’s role in the organisation is Community Engagement Manager however he was a photographer for 40 years documenting the troubles here and working with the social impact of the troubles whilst working with community groups to enable them to tell their stories.

Belfast exposed was formed on 10th October 1983 by Danny Burke, who called out for photographers to become part of a cross-community committee. The organisations main aim was to challenge the media's perspective and representation of Belfast with community photographs from both sides of the sectarian divide which showed the rest of the world that Belfast was not all about bombs and bullets. The photographers who went out to take the photos built up a rapport with the community because they were taking photographs of people in the normality of their everyday activities. The objective was for the community to express themselves through photography and show the world what daily life was like from the inside instead of from the outside through the lens of reporters on the outside. Although the troubles were still ongoing, through photography, you could see that the people of Belfast continued on with their normal lives, went to school and work.

Initially, while conceived as a broad cross community project, it was closely linked with predominantly Nationalist West Belfast with the first gallery being situated at Conway Mill, between the Falls and Shankill Roads on the nationalist side of the ‘Peace Wall’.

In 2003 Belfast Exposed found a permanent home in the city’s Cathedral Quarter and is now firmly established as Northern Ireland’s principal gallery of contemporary photography. Although funded primarily by Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council the organisation is a registered charity and donations help assist the work, support and facilities they provide.

Mervyn showed us a sample of the photos of Mickey Marley’s roundabout, children swinging on lampposts, old corner shop, children playing in the streets, etc. Each photo was accompanied by a story or description of events by Mervyn which made the evening both really informative and enjoyable.

Bangor and North Down camera club, as always, would like to thank Mervyn for his time and effort in coming down to the club to give his presentation.

Friday 11th Nov is our next competition which is the Audrey Argue nature competition. This event is held each year in honour of Audrey who was a founding member of the club and the vice principal of Glenlola Collegiate Girls School. She also had an interest in animals hence the competition being named after her.

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