Women’s Vision in Transition: Photobook illustrates how much can be achieved when women come together to address cross-community social issues
Launched via an interactive zoom event, the ‘Women’s Vision in Transition’ photobook is a re-visualisation of the Tigers Bay and New Lodge areas of North Belfast by the women who live there.
The photobook illustrates how much can be achieved when women come together to address cross-community social issues.
The project is a follow up to the 2015 photobook ‘Women’s Vision from Across the Barricades’.
In late 2014, a group of women who live in Tigers Bay and New Lodge areas of North Belfast came together to offer visual representations of their localities as a means of highlighting issues affecting interface areas of the post-conflict city. The first photobook was officially launched by Dawn Purvis at The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts in October 2015. It is now held in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast and in the Tate Britain's Library and Archives in London as part of their prestigious photobook collection.
In October 2020, the group met once more to review progress made since 2015. The latest photobook, ‘Women’s Vision in Transition’, brings together images taken in 2014 and in 2020 in order to assess which of these aims have been achieved. The images show that much can be achieved when women come together to address cross-community social issues when this is in tandem with wider community and statutory bodies working together; however, there is still much to be done. It also shows how women's voices can be made more visible and audible in the public sphere, challenging their on-going exclusion from local power structures.
Both photobooks include community-led policy recommendations and aims relating to housing, infrastructure, communities, education, women’s services, employment and youth services.
Lead community partner, Eileen Weir explained:
“This project has been a unique and empowering experience for the women from these two communities. It has been an opportunity to come together and talk about the real issues affecting women and their communities. Comparing the two photobooks you can clearly see the progress that has been made in terms of public housing, barricades and the removal of paramilitary flags from a children’s playpark, but it also highlights what still needs to be done, particularly in relation to women’s services and the inclusion of women in local power structures, hence the title ‘Women’s Vision in Transition’.”
Both projects were funded and supported by The Executive Office's Greater North Belfast Good Relations, the Good Relations Council and the Centre for Media Research, Ulster University.
Ulster University lecturer Dr Jolene Mairs Dyer's research focuses on collaborative documentary filmmaking and visual practice in post-conflict societies, particularly in post-agreement Northern Ireland. She commented:
“As Northern Ireland’s civic university, Ulster University is grounded in, and connected to, the communities it serves. It has been an honour to work with this amazing group of women from North Belfast; to empower them to use their voices and share their stories through photography.
Art, such as photography, has the power to bring people together, to explore issues and to document progress. The ‘Women’s Vision in Transition’ project and its powerful images highlight women’s unique role in local community and wider society.”
It is hoped that the ‘Women’s Vision in Transition’ project can be used as additional model of collaborative, activist photographic practice that can be adopted by similar groups, particularly in relation to societies emerging from conflict or in relation to offering a creative methodology that addresses the marginalisation of under-represented groups.