© By Peter Richards
Public memorials express choices made between what will be forgotten of history and what remembered. Celebrating, condemning or consoling, memorials take sides and yet, traditionally, war memorials exist to create a sense of closure and consensus. In the particular circumstances of Belfast, memorials invariably serve to dramatise difference and heighten tension. From city centre monument to the murals and gardens of local communities, memorials that are sacred to one, may appear sacrilegious to another.
In 2002, Belfast Exposed awarded Peter Richards a Bursary to make photographic work documenting public memorials to war, conflict and disaster across the city of Belfast.
The project has taken Peter Richards, an artist based at Flax Art Studios in Belfast, across the city to sites of state, community and personal memorial, including memorials on the Falls, Upper Springfield, Crumlin and Shankill Roads and in Ardoyne.
Richards adopted an innovative approach to the project, converting a ‘wheelie-bin’ into a pinhole camera, through which he directly exposed colour photographic paper, creating a unique series of original prints. In addition Richards used a 4x5 pinhole camera to expose transparencies for another series of images, which have in turn been digitally processed and printed.
‘As well as providing me with a very simple method of dispersing crowds and jumping queues, my travels through Belfast with a wheelie bin camera have elicited a wide range of responses’, says Peter. ‘Attempts at photographing the Titanic Memorial at City Hall provoked a mass exodus of people from nearby bus stops. A little later, pushing through the Village on the south side of the city en route to the Falls, a local passer by informed me of another, equally innovative if rather more sinister use for Belfast wheelie bins, which possibly explained the nervousness of the crowds around City Hall. Apparently, the common or garden wheelie bin had occasionally served as shell casing for home made fertiliser bombs.’
Previously exhibited at :
Art of the Troubles, Wolverhampton Art Gallery(UK)
Art of the Troubles,Ulster Museum, Belfast (UK)
The Belfast Way, Herzlyia Museum, Tel Aviv (IL)
Dogs Have No Religion, curator R. Drury, Czech Museum of Fine Art, Prague (CZ)
Memorials, Belfast Exposed
C-Print, mounted on 12mm foamex, laminate, split batton.
Technical note: Re-printed 2005 at Irish Colour Lab / Anderson McMeekin, Belfast (now Blacksheep) using Kodak archival paper with archival laminate, hand-printed