Paul Seawright (b.1965)
Black Spike (1997)
Paul Seawright was born in Belfast in 1965 and is Professor of Photography and Executive Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Ulster. His photographic work is held in many museum collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Centre of Photography, New York, Arts Councils of Ireland, England and N. Ireland, UK Government Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome.
Seawright’s work focuses on the aftermath and impact of conflict, and in 2002 he was awarded a war artist commission by the Imperial War Museum, London for Afghanistan. In 2003 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art. His recent photobook Beasts of Burden, published by Strzelecki Books, Cologne, visually documents the reconciliation process between perpetrators and survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Since the mid-1980’s Seawright has made incisive photographic work about the political turmoil – ‘The Troubles’ – in Northern Ireland. Whilst his subject matter parallels that of the photojournalist, his approach is allusive rather than documentary. He does not depict easy narratives, nor record the evidence or atrocities or political unrest, but uses the camera as a tool to isolate and draw attention to detail, revealing the paradoxes and complexities that lie beneath the media-saturated façade. This piece, entitled Black Spike is an example of this work and depicts the remnants of a bonfire with a lone piece of charred wood standing above the city below.