Belfast Photo Festival hits all the right notes with 2018 launch

Belfast Photo Festival, Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival, hits all the right notes as it launches the music and innovation-themed 2018 programme for Belfast Photo Festival Compact in association with Quilter Cheviot.

The photography festival, which celebrates some of the finest national and international contemporary photography, runs from June 7-30.

Known previously as Belfast Photo Festival Youth Edition, the biennial event, last held in 2016, has been rebranded to Belfast Photo Festival Compact, a condensed festival format which includes the recently announced inaugural Capture Conference as well as a programme of workshops, seminars, exhibitions, tours and screenings.

Staged in a wide range of venues across greater Belfast, the 2018 festival will explore the use of photography and music with two major exhibitions showcasing the works of visual artists, Brian Griffin and James Mollison. Other off-theme exhibition highlights include ‘Air of the Anthropocene’ by Robin Price, a collaborative exhibition merging photography and science to explore levels of air pollution, and ‘Ready? OK!’, a group exhibition of photographic works exploring race, religion, gender, sexuality, and politics in sport.

Following a series of youth-focused workshops, Cultúrlann will also host an exhibition of participating young people’s work.

Brian Griffin’s award-winning exhibition, ‘POP’, presents a series of rare and previously unseen photographs of some of the most influential figures in the music industry between 1978-1987.  A renowned album cover photographer who has shot for Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop and Billy Idol’s iconic ‘Rebel Yell’, Brian’s exhibition showcases alternative images captured during the photoshoots of classic album covers.

James Mollison’s body of work, ‘The Disciples’, which will be presented as a large-format outdoor exhibition in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, is a highly-entertaining take on contemporary music culture and the tribalism invoked by popular music stars. The panoramic collection of images shows fans at concerts throughout Europe and the USA, each posing in styles emulating their music idols.

Belfast Photo Festival Director, Michael Weir said:

“This year’s festival is an exploration of photography in music. Consider MTV, high-impact album sleeves and cover art; photography and visual art has long had an important and influential role in the music industry. We’re thrilled to present the award-winning works of Brian Griffin, and James Mollison’s striking show on the grounds of city hall will certainly grab the attention of passers-by.

“The festival also explores the evolution and application of the medium in a growing number of technological and innovative creative fields through our inaugural Capture Conference, examining the use of photography in film, TV, animation, gaming and virtual reality (VR). These are creative practices reliant on advances in photography and each continue to support the evolution of the discipline as it pushes the boundaries between what is real and what is virtual.”

Deirdre Robb, Arts Development Officer Visual Arts at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: 

“We’re thrilled to once again support Belfast Photo Festival through Arts Council National Lottery funding to provide its comprehensive programme of visual arts-based activities across greater Belfast. From exhibitions, to talks, workshops, tours, screenings and now the launch of the inaugural Capture Conference, the festival continues to develop year after year, building on its successes and attracting worldwide names working in the visual arts to Belfast.”

Nigel Crawford, Head of Quilter Cheviot Investment Management Belfast, said:

“We are delighted to partner with the Belfast Photo Festival; an event which as has become globally renowned in its own right. Northern Ireland is a hub for creativity and as keen supporters of photography, we are thrilled to engage some of the region’s most talented photographers.”

Barry Desmond, Sales and Marketing Director at Alexander Boyd Displays, adds:

“Alexander Boyd Displays is pleased to be working with the festival for a second year and we’re looking forward to helping bring visual art outdoors to the people of Belfast in striking large-format displays.”

Belfast Photo Festival Compact is supported by National Lottery funding through Arts Council Northern Ireland, Quilter Cheviot Investment Management, Belfast City Council and Alexander Boyd Displays.

For more information on this year’s festival or the inaugural Capture Conference, visit and keep up to date on social media via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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