Reflections on Histories and Practices: Belfast Exposed

/ Analysis
**The Art for Reconciliation research team asked artists, arts producers, audiences and participants to work with us on a series of short films exploring key insights emerging from our research. Here, Deirder Robb, Mervyn Smyth and Ben Malcolmson reflect on role and legacy of photography as a way of representing the experience of conflict and post-conflict Northern Ireland as as way of opening up alternative perspectives.

We visited arts practitioners, arts producers and participants, in different studios, galleries and community spaces in Belfast between 7 and 10 July 2021, and invited them to reflect on the value of art as a medium for reconciliation. The idea was to share the knowledge and experience of practitioners and participants who have been involved in creating the wealth, diversity and disparity of meanings and values attached to ‘art for reconciliation’ practices over time.

We were particularly interested in learning about and sharing specific strategies and practices that art can provide to conflict transformation, peace building and improving community relations. By focussing on how practitioners and participants create value and meaning together, we hope to show that the experience of producing and consuming art expands our understanding of what peace and reconciliation entails.

We asked Deidre, Mervyn and Ben to talk about:**

The value of the work of visual artists and the distinctive and specific contribution that their practices or projects have made to transformative outcomes associated with peacebuilding in Northern Ireland.

The series was devised and produced by Dr Alex Coupe and Dr Pauline Hadaway (Art for Reconciliation Research team) in consultation with members of the project's Research Advisory Committee. The films were made by the project's videographer, Peter Young.

Special thanks to contributors to the series: Ken Bartley, co-director ArtisAnn gallery, Belfast; David Boyd, director Beat Carnival; Sarah Jankowitz, Queen’s University, Belfast; Deirdre Robb and her team at Belfast Exposed gallery of photography; and Cate Turner, director Healing through Remembering.

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