Belfast women capture city scenes on camera  Posted on 22 April 2024

A group of Belfast women have been capturing some of the city’s best-known buildings and landmarks through a camera lens, as part of a project supported by Clanmil Housing’s good relations programme in south Belfast.  

Seven women living in and around the city’s Ormeau Road and Annadale areas took part in the 14-week project led by photographer Kelly Morris. Their work, and an accompanying book, was showcased at an exhibition on 18 April in the Northern Lights, Ormeau Road.  

 The participants learned skills in photography and storytelling, as well as enjoying the social aspect of working together as a group. Using disposable cameras with black and white film, the women captured images relating to a different theme each week, including local landmarks in the city. Group discussions formed the basis for the weekly themes, and the participants were given tasks related to the themes by Kelly. Journal writing was another aspect of the course that complemented the storytelling and group discussions.  

some of the guests at the photography exhibition in Belfast
Some of the course participants and guests with Kelly Morris, second from left and comedian Tim McGarry who opened the exhibition

Facilitator Kelly Morris said the course has encouraged the women to learn new skills and has increased their self-confidence: 

“I really enjoyed working with the group and encouraging them to explore their creativity and notice the landscape, people and places in the city.  The women’s journaling and storytelling throughout the process, as well as their group and individual confidence, has grown so much over the 14 weeks. The group bonded really well and had great fun, which was fantastic to see, as they are a range of age groups and come from different community backgrounds.  It was a similar course to one I facilitated for a group of women in Cookstown which Clanmil also supported, and we look forward to welcoming the Cookstown women to the exhibition to meet the Belfast group.” 

Sheelagh Murphy is one of those who took part. She said:  

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and Kelly is a delight as a facilitator. It was great to get together with a group of like-minded people, who are now good friends. I hadn’t learned how to take photos properly before, so Kelly really opened my eyes and encouraged me to notice the world around me. Unlike the usual way of taking photos on a phone, where you do it quickly then delete it if you don’t like it, this was about taking your time before taking the photo.” 

Danielle Smyth also took part in the course. She said: 

“It was an amazing experience. I was a bit unsure at the start as I hadn’t done a course like this before, but Kelly made us all feel at ease.  She helped us find our own individual way of taking photos, so it was very empowering. There was a broad range of age groups so it was good to hear the different experiences and stories. ” 

Clanmil owns the Port Building in Annadale, south Belfast and supports a number of cross-community projects in the area, as part of a Good Relations programme funded by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. 

Phillip Whyte, Community Investment Officer with Clanmil said: 

“Following the success of a similar project that we supported in Cookstown, we were pleased to work with Kelly again and involve people living in and around our shared neighbourhoods in south Belfast. Projects like this are so important for strengthening connections between communities, creating new friendships, and boosting people’s confidence.” 

View the book of photographs and reflections

Clanmil manages nine shared housing developments in Northern Ireland including the Port Building in Annadale in south Belfast and is promoting a further three. 

Further information

  • The project was supported through the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy, which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. The Port Building shared housing development in Annadale, south Belfast is also supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. 
  • £3.5m was invested in the Port Building’s development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan. The aims of the Good Relations programme include promotion of health and wellbeing activities and encouraging people from different backgrounds to work together. Good Relations activities are developed in collaboration with an Advisory Group and residents of The Port Building.