A Sense of Place / Fragmented Realities

Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards, 1 – 24 February 2018

A series of black and white digital photographs by Belfast-based artist, Mariusz Smiejek, was presented in the Georgian Gallery in Ards Arts Centre. The small-scale photographs depicted women within the natural and domestic landscapes of the Ards Peninsula. Strong tonal contrasts played a part in some of these images, whereas others had a softer tonal range. The depth of field also varied; sometimes Smiejek concentrated solely on the subject, while at other times the background was also depicted in detail. The artist explained: “I focus on the person rather than their surroundings, capturing the person rather than things”. That said, the objects surrounding the women also seemed to have life resonance. Most of the photographs intimately narrated the women’s facial expressions but a few also conveyed their physicality, stance and their attitudes towards the camera, with some seeming more self-conscious than others. Yet my favourite photographs captured a sense of energy, such as wind tugging at women’s hair. Somehow, this elemental force brought a youthfulness and honesty to the women’s smiles. Smiejek stated that “it takes time to become part of the person’s life… I like to spend as many hours or days as possible”, suggesting that, ideally, projects need to be quite durational. Continue reading “A Sense of Place / Fragmented Realities”