Gareth McConnell’s work is dominated by successive series of simple but highly eloquent portraits of outsider figures, survivors who have lived life to an extreme. Born in Carrickfergus, McConnell’s own experience has been shaped by the violent tensions of Northern Ireland’s recent history and there is a strong autobiographical element in the dialogue and empathy he develops with his sitters. From his powerful portraits of loyalists in the Albert Bar in Carrickfergus to the photographs of an exotic community of young ex-pat’s in Ibiza, McConnell’s work blend’s matter-of-factness with disarming intensity. Using only natural light, his photographs celebrate the fragile momentary encounter, while transforming it into something memorable and enduring. McConnell’s monograph includes a wide range of work from 1995 to the present. Beginning with the series Anti-Social Behaviour, looking at people who have endured punishment beatings in Northern Ireland, and including, Portraits from the Albert Bar; his celebrated series Wherever You Go, portraits from the Quay Foyer young peoples’ centre in Poole; Boxers, a series of portraits from a boxing club in Bournemouth as well as the recent Portraits from Ibiza series. In addition the book includes several non-portrait series, including the painterly Sectarian Murals, close-up details of murals in Belfast, and My Grandfather’s House, an elegiac look at the contents of a house before they were sold.
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