Belfast Exposed


2nd May - 1st Jun

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?! (2024) is a durational piece based on content shared on the artist’s social media, linked to the resu...

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2nd May - 29th Jun


This exhibition is an ongoing body of work by Chad Alexander. The series was created in Belfast and centres on people, predom...

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25th Sep - 7th Oct

Young People Behind the Lens

Over the summer, a group of young people from Start 360 explored the cityscape of Belfast. They found new ways to see the...

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21st May - 22nd May

Showing the faces of dementia with Alzheimer’s NI

Ahead of the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2019 (ASAC19), Belfast Exposed was commissioned by Alzheimer’s NI to w...

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Else Time | Ulster University MFA Photography Exhibition 2023

Gallery 2

1st Jun 2023 to 22nd Jul 2023

About The Exhibition

In this unique time that we find ourselves in, the things that once were so certain, are no longer so.

Else Time is an 'other' time. A time different from the one we have known, where nothing remains the same and everything is different.


For the fourth year running, Belfast Exposed hosts artists graduating from Ulster University's MFA Photography for Else Time, an exhibition showcasing a broad range of approaches, subject matter and styles. With alumni from the programme found among the emerging names in the visual arts both at home and abroad, Else Time gives you the opportunity to experience work from the next generation of talent in photography, in what in many cases will be their first exhibition.

In keeping with our mission to support new and emerging artists from a wide range of backgrounds, Else Time features the work of 14 artists from the United Kingdom, Ireland and beyond. The exhibition will take place in our Gallery II & Studio Gallery spaces, where we traditionally showcase emerging talent.

The artists participating in this group show are Jan O'Connell, Elisa Nishimura, Mahesh Shantaram, Annabel Steen, Suella Holland, Louise Hamilton, Salena Swan, Dave Smith, Ian Newman, Mary Furlong, Meg McWhirter, Caitlin O’Neill, Sam Patton, Saoirse Sexton.

Launching at Late Night Art on Thursday 1st June, Else Time runs until 22nd July in our upstairs Gallery II & Studio Gallery spaces, with a series of Artist Talks planned during this time.

The Artists

University of Ulster MFA Photography Class of 2023

Artist Biography

Jan O’ Connell - Surrender

Jan O'Connell has spent her life working and living with photography. This journey began with studying for BA in fine art printmaking and photography at the Crawford College of Art Design, Cork. In 1992 Jan established her current commercial photography business, f22 Photography. She is the owner and senior photographer, specializing in Architectural photography.

Her Exhibition, Surrender explores the antithesis of the human relationship, both internal and external, with the natural landscape. It is a relationship with the elements and the structures of a rugged West Kerry that the artist projects human feelings onto.

Through their photography, the artist infuses something human onto the rocks and ocean images that create meaning with an immersive connection. The landscape cannot express empathy for people in a direct or conscious sense, over time we have imbued the landscape with emotional importance and a significance that provides emotional resources for survival, inspiration, and a sense of belonging and identity.

The visceral architecture of the rocks is often camouflaged in the immense “beauty” of their surroundings. They exude magic and an ethereal mystery, the keepers of power and of storms. They protect with their powerful energy, some ancient and intangible force. These rocks are kept alive in this landscape, still loved locally by their given names. Through the images, the artist forges a link to this ancient mythology, while being awarded a sense of place.

When finding an image, it is akin to hunting, walking in the footsteps of the goddesses, of Dhuibhne and the Tuatha Dé Danann. From the magic of Mionáinn na Gráige to the textured cliffs of Brandon Creek.

This landscape holds time and creates visions when one surrenders.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Elisa Nishimura- Ireland is Home

Elisa Nishimura is a Brazilian photographer based in Dublin. After graduating and obtaining a master’s degree in computer science, she worked in IT for many years. Having had a lifelong love of visual arts, she became interested in photography and recently changed gears to pursue an MFA at the University of Ulster.

Her main areas of interest are portrait and still-life photography.

‘Ireland is Home’ is a photographic project which includes portraits of migrants; people and birds in flight. Through the similarities between human and bird movements, the artist questions why they uproot themselves and what home is for them. She looks for the answers in their eyes, the slant on their shoulders, and the grip on their hands.

On a world map, their country of origin is marked. By the dots of their journey made, a constellation is formed, and each person has their own. The blue color of the constellation cyanotypes reflects the sky and the sea that they had to cross to arrive on this island.

A person is more than the place they have come from, more than a suitcase, more than their memories. Wanderers or exiles; adventurers or fugitives, we carry within ourselves the history of our ancestors. We carry with us our homes.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Mahesh Shantaram - {Tech/City/Night/Work/Man }

Mahesh Shantaram is an independent photographer based in Bangalore. He uses personal and subjective documentary photography to study complex systems and institutions in contemporary Indian society. Shantaram’s work has been widely published and appreciated within the industry including the Hatje Cantz in 2018. His exhibition in The African Portraits won the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts photobook award in 2018. He has also featured on the BJP’s Ones to Watch list in 2015.

Through its execution and its display, TCNWM is a visualization of the lived experience in an automated world. The project set in the nightscapes of Bangalore City questions technological progress by investigating the life of a vulnerable class of workers enslaved by advanced capitalism.

In response to the intensifying criticism against the global gig economy, billed as ‘The Future of Work’, he signed up as a delivery boy with a food ordering company and kept a visual diary of his encounters.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Annabel Steen – Outside of the Binary

Based between Belfast and Berlin, Annabel Steen is a Northern Irish photographer whose work concentrates on themes of identity and the every day, using 35mm film in a range of photographic styles to document the world around them. Focusing on human connection and evidence of humanity, Annabel frequently juxtaposes this with isolated landscapes in an attempt to represent their internal world and express a struggle between connection and isolation. They will graduate from MFA photography at Ulster University in July 2023.

By photographing the everyday lives of queer people over the age of 40 in Northern Ireland,

‘Outside of the Binary’ seeks to challenge the traditions of Northern Irish photography, escaping the lens of conflict and representing lives which had previously found themselves silenced. Through capturing lives which fall outside of the sectarian binary as well as outside of the binary of gender and sexuality, this project helps to represent an alternative form of identity in Northern Ireland which historically hasn’t been given space or representation.

‘Outside of the Binary’ is fuelled by the desire to see what the artist needed to see as a child, with the aspiration of providing a hope that they weren’t able to experience in youth – the hope that it is possible to live a safe and fulfilling life as a queer person in Northern Ireland.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Suella Holland - A Joining of Self

Suella Holland is a photographic artist. She holds a Degree in Photography (Dublin Institute of Technology, 1993) and has exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions. She has also worked on collaborative projects with artists and writers. She is a Board Member of The Darkroom, Dublin, a member of Visual Artists Ireland, and has received bursaries from Meath and Cavan County Councils. Her work is in the collections of both Councils, the Kells Type Trail Archive, and private collections worldwide. She works in publishing and is currently in her final year of the MFA Photography course at Ulster University.

A Joining of Self is a reclamation of power. Coming face to face with trauma, one is better able to choose courage over fear and acceptance over criticism. This inner union is powerful as its connection brings unity and balance to both the conscious and subconscious self.

Shrouded in secrecy and made to fear that no one will believe them, children keep silent about abuse. Words that were used to manipulate them echo through their minds, making the majority of them too afraid to speak out.

Through visiting a house that is a clone of her childhood home, Holland recreates scenes from fragmented memories and utilizes photography and stitching as its means of expression. Photographed on film with the abuser’s twin lens reflex camera Holland converts the male gaze to that of the female child’s and takes back control of the past.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Louise Hamilton - Noli Timere

Louise Hamilton is a visual artist, based in Derry. She works primarily with the medium of photography. A graduate of Goldsmiths University of London, with a BA in Fine Art and History of Art. She was shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2018.

Her previous work focused on issues of contemporary masculinities, the right to parent, family ties, and social injustices.

Her exhibition, Noli Timere is centered around infertility, sterility, and accepted social behavior around reproduction. This incredibly private and personal journey seems to be a socially acceptable topic to discuss with an abject stranger, ‘Do you want/have children?’ totally disregarding the struggle, private suffering, and pain the individual may be experiencing. It centres around an installation piece, a giant egg, which she and her partner attempted to create.

It is an intimate snapshot into a relationship, how the pair work together, love each other, and the small gestures, humor, and support they gave each other during the work's creation. Giving the issue a physical body, the act of making an egg, the thing that they are missing, in some way parodies the story. It uses the absurd and humor to make the subject of the work more accessible.

You can view more of the artists work here.


Salena Swan - Daybreak

Salena is an American digital artist, painter, and character designer. Having previously studied a BA in illustration and now a recent MFA graduate in photography, her current focus now is studying Japanese manga art and various Japanese subculture styles.

Her exhibition, ‘Daybreak’ is her first attempt at exploring and creating Menhera (メンヘラ) Vent art. Menhera (the literal translation meaning ‘mental healther’) started as a slang word for people suffering from mental health problems but is now referred to as a Japanese subculture. Mental health is still a relatively common problem in Japan and isn’t taken seriously as a genuine ailment and so due to the lack of support and representation, it’s far more popular to see mental health-related vent art being drawn or vent art printed on clothes.

The photographs and digital paintings are a collection of two experiments, both conducted on her friend and fellow artist (Julia Bednarczyk) and herself to document what their life has been like post-Covid and the mental health effects it has on them, afterward.

The goal was to see if they could find a way to actively incorporate Menhera practices into their lifestyle to better improve their mental and physical well-being. With Julia re-enacting her new routine of personal care to improve overall wellness and Selena created illustrations that represent her mental health journey, but also the psychoanalytic side of creating therapeutic vent art as someone undergoing diagnosis and treatment for mental illness.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Dave Smith – No Time!

Dave is a self-educated photographer, previously focusing on alternative printing techniques such as Carbon Transfer, Platinum, and Wet Plate. He has recently moved towards photographing in a series of images and this brought him to the MFA at Ulster University.

Having retired from a career in education, and working internationally Dave is now looking to develop the research interests cultivated through the MFA, specifically in image series, which challenge our notions of capitalism as the ‘steady state’ of economic organization.

His exhibition, No Time! Is a photographic project, which aims to explore the idea of ‘impermanence’.

The project is concerned with two aspects of impermanence – the ‘objective’ and the ‘ephemeral’.

These concepts arise out of Physics; that energy must spread out and can be defined as ‘linear time’. This thus leads to the decay that we see in ‘objects’, and is a concept that has given us our understanding of society.

This idea of linear time, or History, also corresponds to the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. In seeking to differentiate the objective and the ephemeral, this project seeks to question, indirectly, the very foundation of modern capitalism.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Ian Newman- Enchanted Waters

Ian Newman was born in Dublin where he worked in the maritime logistics industry before retraining to become a secondary school humanities teacher and is now living in Switzerland. He has crossed many borders traveling through Europe, North America, and Asiatic Russia. He has always had an interest in the lines of borders on maps. Many European frontiers have been redrawn to reflect current or recent political considerations. He has come to the MFA program to expand his understanding and interest in photography.

His exhibition, Enchanted Waters suggests a place of enchantment. As a child, he crossed the Irish border and observed differences between his home state and that of the neighboring one. Throughout his life he would continue his long-term interest in borders and more recently the open border policy of many European governments.

In recent years, the profile of the Irish land border has been much discussed in the media, within the context of the UK leaving the European Union. Despite this, the maritime border in Loughs Foyle and Carlingford continues to be ‘undetermined’ which has raised issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction.

His work was made during 2022/23 along the shores of both loughs and in many cases within the inter-tidal zone, where water rises and falls, flows in and out. It can be experienced as a place in between; a place of minimal control; a place of visibility and invisibility; a place of change, of uncertainty; a place of mystery, and of enigmatic waters.


Mary Furlong – The Apple I would never eat

Mary Furlong is an Irish artist, a graduate of IADT and TUD, she has worked as a researcher, gallery assistant, technician, tutor, community artist, curator and photographer and was Perry Ogden’s photo assistant and studio manager for eleven years and the resident portrait photographer for the Alternative Miss Ireland for seventeen years.

Mary has been a member of Wexford County Council’s artists panel, funded by Meath County Council and commissioned by Limerick City & County Council. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows, won the Solstice Visual Arts Award, and is in the collections of the Irish Queer Archive and Rua Red.

The apple I would never eat is an elegiac, autobiographical, location-based love story made in response to the untimely death of her dog, Nancy. Through the act of making these static and silent images, Mary uses photography as a vehicle for mourning. Writing gives these images a voice and creates a third space between image and text.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Meg McWhirter 

Meg McWhirter is a Northern Ireland-based artist. She has a Fine Art background specializing in Drawing and Photography. Her work has been in various exhibitions such as Eye Test in Catalyst Arts showing The Seven Deadly Sins and online exhibitions such as BsOA Online Degree Show and D21 Summer Online Exhibition showing The Chemical Landscapes.

As someone who has a fascination with redrawing photographs to enhance the value of an object, it has been in the artist’s nature to combine drawing and photography to can show different elements of the subject’s personality and tell more of a story than by just using a photograph. These two elements fit together seamlessly. What the photograph can sometimes lack the drawing can enhance, but metaphorically the two rely on each other to exist. Through the process of redrawing the passport photograph the artist is subverting the passport image to give it a personality derived from experience and for it to exist equally alongside and as if it were a family album image.


Caitlin Sorcha O’Neill - Halfway in Between

Caitlin Sorcha O’Neill is an English-Irish, fine art photographer. The ideas within her work became apparent during the last year of her undergraduate degree when she decided to travel back and forth to Ireland making work involving the landscape and culture.

Caitlin was a finalist in the ‘Places’ category of the Association of Photographers (AOP) Student Awards 2020. She was also part of several online exhibition features including Pupil Sphere and Photograd 2020.

Her exhibition, Halfway in Between is an exploration of her relationship with her Irish father. Upon returning to her father’s birthplace in Ireland, they created a collaborative portrait of each other. She has explored the closeness she experiences with the elements of her identity that reflect her father’s side. She has photographed her family home, her father’s childhood town, and portraits of her other Irish family members. This is in contrast with images taken from her family album highlighting the significance of absence and obsolescence.

Halfway in Between consolidates and nurtures the ideas of distance and balance.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Sam Patton- Room to Breathe

Sam Patton (they/them) is a photographer from Belfast. Their current practice explores queer identity in contemporary Ireland through collaborative photography. Their studio is located at Some Studio, a queer art space in Belfast. Their work has been featured in group shows in the city and they have compiled their early street photography in a handmade zine, Anywhere For Now (2016-2021).

Their exhibition Room to Breathe is a celebration of the quiet moments of contentment felt by trans and non-binary people. The project centers on the humanity of the participants, representing them on their own terms.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Saoirse Sexton- I still get excited to go to town

Saoirse Sexton is an Irish visual artist working predominantly in the medium of photography and video. In 2017 she graduated with a BA honours degree in photography from the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Technology, and Design.

Her exhibition, ‘I still get excited to go to town’, captures everyday confrontations with the modern

city; fleeting moments of consciousness, the stumbling search for empathy, and a breath of kindness in the ever-drowning mass of consumerism.

You can view the artist’s other work here.


Belfast Exposed is supported by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland. This exhibition is produced alongside the Ulster University Belfast School of Art.