Photography project inspired by Heaney

Photography organisation ‘Belfast Exposed’ has been working on a therapeutic photography project inspired by the poetry of Seamus Heaney.

The project, funded by Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Halifax Foundation of Northern Ireland, visually captured the homeland of Heaney, following the route of the 110 bus which inspired Heaney, specifically the journey between Toome and Castledawson, and looking at 10 poems so close to his heart within his homeland.

The project brought people together, using the poems of Seamus Heaney and the images captured by the participants to challenge attitudes towards mental health and raise a greater public awareness and understanding of these issues, seeking to offer inclusion and an accessible art form to all participants.

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The aim of the project was for the participants to learn technical photography skills and to work together using photography as a medium, to start a dialogue contributing to positive well-being, and to inform and give an understanding of their mental health issues which have effects on all family members and create a sense of pride.

Through this project, participants are removed from isolation, offering a distraction from any negative thoughts and feelings, gaining confidence and raising self-esteem, by using creative photography as a therapeutic art process.

Noel, one of the participants, said: “The project was a real tonic for me, it is unbelievable what the project offered me learning about Seamus Heaney and bringing the poems to life through photography taking me out of my depression, I am so happy to have taken part.”

Belfast Exposed’s ‘Mental Health & Well-being Programme’ is designed to support mental health and well-being of people across Northern Ireland, through the provision of Belfast Exposed’s therapeutic photography programme as an alternative method of support.

If you are an individual, or a community or school group, and would like to get involved in Belfast Exposed’s community engagement programmes, contact Mervyn Smyth at [email protected].