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Participants in Unique Photography Programme Create Digital Archive of Life During Lockdown

17 Jun 2020

A group of participants taking part in a new photography project by the major culture and heritage programme ‘Making the Future’, have created a digital photographic archive of contemporary life during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Making The Future is a regional programme being delivered by the Nerve Centre, National Museums NI, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and Linen Hall Library, and is supported through €1.82m of EU funding under the PEACE IV programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. 

‘New Parameters’ involved a series of online classes that facilitated reflection on some of National Museum NI’s extensive photography collections before empowering participants to capture their own surroundings and life during lockdown.  

You can view all of the participant’s images at the Making the Future website here

Shauna McGowan, Community Engagement Officer for Making The Future from National Museums NI, said: 'The idea for New Parameters came about as the team discussed how life felt during lockdown and touching on our new restrictions, surveillance and feelings of isolation. 

She added, 'The programme enabled participants to open up and share such a wide range of themes and emotions brought on by the pandemic, all through the medium of photography.'

Participants drew inspiration from the work of acclaimed photojournalist Bill Kirk, whose work focused on documenting the communities of Northern Ireland. During the programme, Bill discussed the similarities between lockdowns restrictions and ‘The Troubles’, which has been dominated by borders, precincts and surveillance. 

Images: Bill Kirk, "2 young boys, College Green 1973" and participant Stanislava Stoyanova's recreation, 2020. 

Over the course of four weeks, the group came together to share photographs and stories from their time in lockdown, touching on themes from community spirit to impact on mental health and issues affecting the elderly and vulnerable. 

Celebrated photographer Christopher Barr acted as a mentor, leading an online masterclass and providing feedback on submitted imagery. 

Speaking about the programme, one participant said, 'New Parameters has had a big impact on me in many ways. As a lifelong learner it has, in a short time, taught me a lot. It has been an opportunity to see such a range of work and such creativity. Above all it has encouraged me to take out the camera that has been lying in a drawer, for longer than I remember, unused.'

Another added, 'It gave me focus during lockdown. I loved the sense of community and the shared creativity of the group. We were given a supported space to share, critique and comment.'

New Parameters is just one of a series of successful online programmes by Making the Future which empowers people to explore the past, share their own stories, learn new skills and in doing so, create a powerful vision for future change. 

Moving through 2020, Making the Future will continue to deliver an ambitious programme including online engagement programmes exploring themes as varied as Partition and our culture and identity. For more information on how you can get involved, visit Making the Future's website.

Header image by participant Chris McSherry