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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Valley of Tears

Studio Gallery

4th Aug 2022 to 24th Sep 2022

About The Exhibition

Pulitzer Prize Winning photographer Cathal McNaughton returns to Belfast Exposed in August with Valley of Tears, a collection of portraits shot while covering civil unrest in Kashmir. McNaughton has previously shown a collection of his work documenting the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar at Belfast Exposed - featuring the work that won him the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 2018.

A photographer and photojournalist of global importance, McNaughton's work cuts straight to the heart of the subjects he covers. Valley of Tears is no exception and these portraits - exhibiting McNaughton's skill and empathy behind the lens - capture the story of two very similar groups of young men, caught on two very different sides of ongoing civil unrest.

While working as a photojournalist in Srinagar, Kashmir - the disputed region between India and Pakistan - McNaughton took a series of honest, stripped back portraits of participants on both sides of ongoing civil unrest. With only natural light and nothing more than 'gaffer tape and bed sheets' to form a studio, the portraits were shot quickly, in a lull between periods of unrest and with only limited time for McNaughton to build trust and understanding with his subjects. McNaughton was attracted to Kashmir, the disputed region between India and Pakistan, as he identified parallels between the civil unrest in the region and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In some cases, he had only a few minutes where conditions were right and he was able to shoot. Some subjects chose to pose with weapons or with particular paraphernalia, with both groups of men easily identifiable via their respective uniforms. As McNaughton notes, while only one group of subjects wore an official uniform of the state, the young men on both sides had their own distinct ‘costumes’ which they wear to play out their roles within the conflict.

The results - a series of portraits that will be on display in Belfast Exposed's Studio Gallery from the 4th to 27th August - capture both the 'stone pelters' and members of the security forces in situ. All those photographed chose to cover their faces in some form, with some also choosing to pose with weapons, body armour or other items related to their part in the ongoing clashes. Each subject was therefore captured as they chose to present themselves, caught in the moment between periods of unrest but very much in contrast to how they would appear if photographed during the ongoing riots a short time later.

'We are delighted to once again be showing a collection of Cathal McNaughton's work. A photographer and photo journalist of global importance, Cathal's work cuts straight to the heart of the stories he covers. Valley of Tears is no exception and these portraits showcase a completely different side of the story of civil unrest, as well as exhibiting McNaughton's skill and empathy behind the lens, given the difficult conditions in which this work was shot'.

Deirdre Robb, Belfast Exposed CEO.

The Artists

Cathal McNaughton

Artist Biography

Cathal McNaughton is a multi-award-winning photojournalist currently based in Ireland. After winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh, McNaughton relocated back to Ireland where he is continuing his work documenting people and places.

Previously, McNaughton was chief photographer for Reuters in India and has travelled extensively in Asia covering news stories of world importance. He also worked for Reuters in Europe, the Press Association and The Daily Telegraph - and his work regularly features in leading publications across the globe.

McNaughton’s photography has won him major accolades including POYI, U.K Press Photographer of the Year, Royal Photographer of the Year and Environmental Photographer of the Year. His work capturing the struggle of the exiled Rohingya Muslims saw him awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in New York in 2018.


Artist Talk: Cathal McNaughton

18th August 2022 | 18:00 | Belfast Exposed



'Valley of Tears' at Belfast Exposed is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.