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A new photographic exhibition of work by Ulster academic  Professor Sarah Edge is now open for viewing at Fort Dunree, Co Donegal. The exhibition features images exploring the ties between Ulster and its Scots heritage, focusing on the works of early Ulster photographer William McKinney

The bond between Inishowen and Scotland is particularly rich - from a heritage of shared ballads to language to family ties, from Scots people who came to settle in Ulster, to Donegal migrant workers and emigrants travelling back and forth between Inishowen to Scotland. Artlink’s exhibition at Fort Dunree from June and through the Earagail Arts Festival 2011 is a fascinating insight into how an early Ulster photographer played his part in the forging of an Ulster-Scots relationship.

In this exhibition the contemporary artist and photographer Sarah Edge make a new series of photographs looking at the photography collection of 19th century Ulster photographer William McKinney (which contains hundreds of fascinating personal 19th century family images and studies of rural workers and rural scenes).

The Coleraine-based artist's work looks at the visual traces that the William McKinney has left behind at his ancestral home in Sentry Hill, County Antrim which can work as clues to us unpicking his intentions within his own photographs. Alongside this exhibition and as part of her Artlink darkroom residency Sarah Edge will run a series of workshops that will use personal family photographs to investigate aspects of their own personal identities.

Sarah Edge is Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies at the University of Ulster where she is a member of the Centre for Media Research.

The exhibition runs until July 24.

Further Information

Sarah Edge's exhibition at Fort Dunree is an exploration of how William McKinney created an identity for himself through his photography. This exhibition is new work which aims to create debate about how a personal and community identity can be shown through photography. She draws upon documents held in the William McKinney archive held in Sentry Hill, County. Sentry Hill was the home of the McKinney family, who came to Ireland from Scotland in the early 1700s.

William McKinney was born at Sentry Hill in 1832. Besides being a farmer, McKinney was a man of many interests with an absorbing love of the countryside. This intense interest in his own locality was carried into his hobby of photography which he took up in the 1880's. He photographed not only his family and friends but also everyday life on the farm: the men who worked in the fields and the many craftsmen and artisans who visited the farm, such as the journeyman tailor, the carpenter and the butcher. The small farmers and their families in the area too, received the attention of his camera. Altogether 600 plates were carefully labeled and stored

This exhibition examines how through photography McKinney attempted to highlight his own personal identity as well as establish himself as part of a specifically Ulster Scots heritage.

Professor Edge's work involves revisiting the sites of historical photographs, re-photographing them and comparing these images against information drawn from the original photographs. This is done in a manner which will recall for the viewer the original meanings of the images. This is also the case with this project. Her process of creative working requires detailed research on the original collections to discover their meanings, which then allows a creative project to emerge from her findings.

Artlink wishes to programme exhibitions and projects that resonate with the local environment and audiences in this case exploring aspects of Ulster-Scots identity through the reinterpretation of archival material by a contemporary artist