A view from Belfast

Now, firstly, those of you not familiar with the geographical intricacies of Belfast may be asking, what is an interface? Interfaces are the, sometimes invisible other times concrete, lines that divide the nationalist and unionist (or catholic and protestant) communities of Belfast. 'Peace lines' (massive walls of concrete and corrugated iron) are one form these interfaces take, with an estimated 13 miles of such walls stretching throughout north and west Belfast. Mostly, the interfaces are situated in neighbourhoods which also suffer from the highest levels of social and economic deprivation. Over the years, they have been the scene of intense conflict.

But primarily, they are places like any other: Where people live, love, work, raise children, educate themselves, socialise, play sport and struggle for a decent standard of living. 

The Limestone Road in north Belfast is one such interface area. Holy Family youth club sits in the middle of the Limestone, on the tectonic plates that signify the shift form one political allegiance to another in the space of a few footsteps. But go into the youth club any night of the week and you will be quickly overwhelmed by the energy and joy flowing through it. Children and young people travel from miles around to pack out its rooms and halls and courtyard, creating their own community. 

Headliners has had the privilege to work with a group of these young people over the last number of months, helping them produce their own personal photography portfolios. Every Monday night, we would traipse out in the cool air, the sky getting slowly brighter as spring advanced, and capture different aspects of the surrounding environment. 

We captured Alexandra Park, a park that has a military-style 'peace wall' running right through the middle of it, in both darkness and daylight. We took a bus trip to Rathcoole, one of the biggest housing estates in Europe and home to some of our group, and documented the complex of tower blocks marked for demolition. We explored the streets of Newington and the New Lodge, the wall murals and interface security cameras.

The young people walk these streets and parks every day of their lives, but with a camera or smart phone in hand, they were looking at them in a new way. Questioning their home place and their relationship to it. 

At the start of April, our group gave their friends a sneak peak of their work in Holy Family youth club. A public exhibition, in association with Youth Action and the Imagine festival, will be taking place in May, so keep your eyes peeled for details! 

 This project is kindly funded by the Department of Justice