An exciting new exhibition has launched today (17 June 2021) at Belfast Exposed to celebrate the ‘Natural Connections’ competition, in partnership in Translink, and the announcement of the overall winner, Laura Kelly, and the finalists of each of the six categories.
Earlier this year, a staggering 1364 entries were submitted for the first ‘Natural Connections’ photography competition organised by Belfast Exposed and Translink to mark one year of lockdown. The competition which was launched in March 2021 wished to capture the 'Natural Connections’' which have sustained, surrounded, supported and encouraged people and communities since 23 March 2020, the first day of lockdown in Northern Ireland.
The six finalists and the overall winner were chosen by the judging panel which included Professor Siobhan O’Neill (Interim Mental Health Champion), Heather McLachlan (Director for Northern Ireland, National Trust), Gordon Milligan (Deputy CEO, Translink) and Deirdre Robb (CEO, Belfast Exposed).
Commenting on the launch of the exhibition Chief Executive of Belfast Exposed, Deirdre Robb, said:
“With nearly fourteen hundred photographs submitted from all over Northern Ireland to the 'Natural Connections competition', Belfast Exposed are overjoyed by the public’s response highlighting their love of all things natural and how engaging with it can support our well-being. The quality of the submissions made for a very difficult selection to edit the shortlisted artists and eventual winner. The partnership with Translink and support from Arts & Business have been an enriching process for us as an arts organisation, and we are grateful for the support of Heather McLachlan (Director for Northern Ireland, National Trust) and Professor Siobhan O’Neill (Interim Mental Health Champion).”
Translink Group Deputy Chief Executive, Gordon Milligan, who presented the award to the winning photographer Laura Kelly added
“Natural Connections has really shown us how people across the country have connected with nature during lockdown - the judges and I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing all of the images submitted
“Our winner struck a chord with us all but in fact, all of the entries submitted brought the lockdown period to life in some way. I’m delighted to be here to mark the opening day of the Natural Connections exhibition and encourage everyone to visit if they can.”
As well as hosting the winning entry, the exhibition will showcase photographs taken by the six finalists, who all received a high-quality print of their photograph, and the entire selection of the 60 shortlisted images. The winning photographer Laura Kelly received a £200 voucher from WEX Photo, a £100 Belfast Exposed gift voucher, and a Translink iLink Card* to make new natural connections. *With credit for 4 weeks travel.
The exhibition is on display at Belfast Exposed’s Archive Gallery on 23 Donegall Street, and it will run from 17th June to 17th July.
Translink continue to deliver essential services throughout the pandemic providing a vital link between urban and rural communities.