Peaceline Panorama, 2008.

Local photographer walks the lines

BELFAST may be evolving into a cosmopolitan European city but, as a unique upcoming exhibition shows, the architecture of the Troubles is still shaping the city’s landscape.

Photographer Frankie Quinn began documenting life on the city’s peacelines over a decade ago, and published his most striking work in his book, Interface Images. Over the last three years Quinn has revisited his expedition taking over 800 images on a tour of Belfast’s most divided areas. the results will be entitled Peaceline Panorama.

Quinn says ‘I wanted to do a wide-angled retake of the peacelines using panoramic photography. I went into it with a totally open mind, but the thing that most struck me was the fact that most of the interfaces have been fortified and extended. There has been a real proliferation of barriers over the last decade.’

The resulting images are an extraordinary and compelling portrait of continued division between the different communities in Belfast. In some, steel fences scythe across abandoned land and blocked access points imply of a shutdown in communication. In others ornate brickwork and decorative shrubbery have replaced the hostility of steel spikes; but the message of apparently permanent division is clear here too. There are images of boundaries gone feral, with wild plants colonising fences as if they are a natural feature of our landscape.

Quinn’s work is by no means simply pessimistic, however. Amid the hostility, the political graffiti and the segregation, there is both warmth and humour in his images of the people living on the interfaces.

Quinn’s exhibition, Peaceline Panorama, will, appropriately be shown on both the Falls and the Shankill Roads. As a collective portrait of Belfast Quinn’s images are intriguing. As a reminder of the work we still need to do as a society, the exhibition is a must see.

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