Belfast Cafes by Brendan Murphy at Red Barn Gallery. August 2- September 28, 2013. Review by Seamus Kelters. Enjoy the day Yareah friends.
Brendan Murphy has won all the major awards in Northern Irish press photography. His work has appeared in the Irish News, Andersonstown News, Irish Times, Irish Press and Irish Independent as well as many European Newspapers and magazines. In March 2003 he retired as picture editor of the Irish news. He lives in Belfast with his wife Geraldine and works as a freelance photographer.
For more than three decades Brendan Murphy recorded Belfast at its best and worst. As a multi-award winning press photographer and picture editor he has crafted images which have made us laugh and made us cry. His reputation and work is known the breadth of these islands and his pictures have appeared in global publications.
He was one of only three northern photographers selected to take part in the prestigious Collins-published ‘Day in the Life of Ireland’ and his work has been published in three books. Last year he was the subject of a two part series in Amateur Photographer, the biggest circulation photography magazine in Britain. The features concentrated on his work during the Troubles – something impossible to ignore given the subject matter of Belfast-based newspapers during his reign.
Having witnessed so many major news stories, sometimes at great personal risk, since retirement he has focused his lens on very different subject matter. Instead of training his eye on the extreme he has found glory, drama and endeavour in scenes the rest of us find ordinary. Long before anyone else he observed and meticulously recorded fledgling changes to the cityscape at ground level.
Over a 13 year period, from the Millennium right up until this year he has taken thousands of images and 40 of these he has distilled into an exhibition he calls simply Belfast Cafes.
It was the advent of the new cafes, tea-rooms and coffee shops that seemed to best symbolise the spirit of a reborn city centre. Some are owned by world-recognised brands but most are the product of small local enterprise. Murphy came to know many of the owners and managers but all the while it was the customers he found most fascinating. Here was humour and pathos, resilience and fragility, beauty and grace embraced in the frozen millisecond of the camera shutter.
The pictures show people from the city at their most relaxed, their most honest, their most warm. These are not posed models but have their own perfection in a moment when light, opportunity and the trained eye combines to deliver exquisite pictures. At the heart of this exhibition is a celebration of people, a symphony of the city centre told in the purest notes. The subjects – the businesses and their clientele – are filtered through a prism which reflects their many qualities in sunshine and rain as well as in optimism over adversity.
The end product is Belfast Cafes; a unique collection from a master-artist who has Belfast streets mapped in his sinews.
Belfast Cafes by Brendan Murphy. More about Red Barn Gallery: http://rbgbelfast.blogspot.com.es/