The Ulster Museum and Belfast Photo Festival mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in a new co-curated exhibition that captures the often untold stories of the women who were influential to peace building in Northern Ireland.
the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in a new co-curated exhibition that captures the often untold stories of the women who were influential to peace building in Northern Ireland.
‘Principled and Revolutionary: Northern Ireland’s Peace Women’ is a new series of works from Belfast-born photographer Hannah Starkey and pays tribute to women’s social and political work. Commissioned by Belfast Photo Festival, the project consists of a series of portraits of prominent women who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.
Peace activist and former politician Monica McWilliams - who co-founded the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition and was a delegate to the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations – is one of the subjects of the portraits, as are other renowned activists and peace campaigners such as Bronagh Hinds and Sandra Peake.
Research has demonstrated that women’s participation in peace processes results in more durable and stable peace. Analysis of 40 peace processes since the end of the Cold War shows that, in cases where women were able to exercise a strong influence on the negotiation process, there was a much higher chance that an agreement would be reached. Starkey’s artwork aims to ignite a conversation about the impact and importance of women’s leadership, not just here, but globally. The 21 portraits in this exhibition highlight some of the many women who have been pivotal to peace building and community activism in this country through their work in the political, cultural and social spheres.
Commenting on the arrival of her latest exhibition to Belfast, Hannah Starkey said: “Meeting the women and listening to their stories has been an amazing education and the exhibition is a monolithic monument to these women and to all the women from the North. I hope these portraits cause pause with visitors and provide an opportunity to not only look back on progress but to a shared future.”
Born in Belfast and now living in London, Hannah Starkey is a world-renowned photographer who has dedicated her career to depicting the lives of women, including recent works on women activists across the globe held in the collections of Tate, Ulster Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI said: “The Ulster Museum continues to play an important role in documenting and raising awareness of our complex history through exhibitions such as Silent Testimony and the Troubles and Beyond. Principled and Revolutionary adds another dimension to this by shedding a light on the peace building process through the lens of those women who contributed to it."
Clare Gormley, Director of Programmes at Belfast Photo Festival said: "Hannah Starkey has produced an artwork of national significance. 'Principled & Revolutionary' not only marks 25 years since the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement and the significant contribution women have made to peace and progress in this place, but it implores us to imagine a future where women have more voice, more power and greater representation within key decision-making roles. As commissioner of the project, we are delighted to partner with Ulster Museum to showcase this ambitious photographic project by one of Northern Ireland's leading artists. Artistically, it pushes the bounds of photography and will defy people's expectations of what a 'portraiture' exhibition might look like."
Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at National Museums NI and co-curator of the exhibition said: “This collaborative project with Belfast Photo Festival pays tribute to the leadership of these women. This is an important opportunity to ignite a conversation on the impact and importance of women’s leadership, not just in Northern Ireland, but globally, and to inspire younger generations of women to make their voices heard.”
The exhibition will remain on display in Ulster Museum until 10th September 2023 and will also include two major public events; ‘Women, Art and Activism’ Symposium on June 3rd, and an artist talk by Hannah Starkey on June 4, as part of the Belfast Photo Festival programme.
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