VISUAL artist, Lise McGreevy’s months of photographing lockdown life has led her to develop plans for an exhibition, 'Covid-19 - A County Antrim Story'.
She plans to showcase the moving story of how the Covid pandemic affected her borough and districts that surround it in venues including the Oriel Gallery, part of Clotworthy House in Antrim Castle Gardens.
As part of this photo-essay work, Lise (right, inset) has documented some of the people she knows, or met during this Covid journey.
She said: “Their stories may not be as ‘vital’ as front line staff, across the board.
“But to me, it is their stories that reflected the heart wrench and suffering felt by so many of us normal people, during these unprecedented times.
“I have tried to encapsulate and touch on fundamental human issues, which have been exasperated by the many lockdowns sine March last year - such as isolation, vulnerability, loneliness.”
She added: “For so many people in County Antrim and across Northern Ireland; life has changed beyond reconnection since Covid 19 raised its ugly head.
“I have already started doing my bit to help the community during Covid for a series of articles.
“I have interviewed individuals and groups, who have worked tirelessly at a ground level to help their local communities.
“I hope to use the hard copy articles and the images as part of an exhibition and installation.
“I would like to submit proposals to local galleries for potential hosting in 2021/22.
“Postponed since June last year due to the lockdowns, My ‘PEACE AND RECONCILE’ exhibition shall hopefully be rescheduled for exhibition at the council’s Oriel Gallery, Antrim, later this year.
“I shall also approach the curator in relation to a potential hosting of Covid 19 – A County Antrim Story.”
With so many of her exhibitions being cancelled since the first lockdown, Lise is delighted to have recently met with the founder and also the curator of The Engine Room Gallery, Belfast.
She said: “We discussed a potential solo show at the space during 2021. “With further discussion to be had, and if permission is granted, my aim would be to potentially host a two gallery space installation.
“My collection, I Am Woman being hosted in the first and Covid 19 – A County Antrim Story in the latter.
Lise said: “Locked inside my borough Covid-zone for weeks during the first pandemic lockdown, I documented the nature and concrete I saw hundreds of times over during my 'one walk a day'.
“Like so many people across the borough and Northern Ireland, this two hour ‘daily constitutional’ was a lifeline, which enabled me to participate in life outside my four walls.
“I was working and living at home.”
Once the government restraints were lifted, we were allowed to break free and venture further afield.
“It was like seeing County Antrim in a new fresh light.” she said.
“I decided then that I would photo-diary my journey though Covid.
“From night shots of strange and eerily quiet streets to the beautiful imagery captured when nature was allowed to grow.
“It seemed to blossom more so, as the lockdown curbed the usual pollution caused by vehicle fumes.
“I also captured people and their particular Covid story.”
She added: “This concept developed further when I decided to use the written word to accompany the imagery.
“My first piece was on Belfast City Hall. Meeting with one of the councillors, I was allow access to do a shoot of this iconic building.
“Due to Covid 19 restrictions, the front doors had been shut to the public right through the Christmas period and again during this latest 6 week lockdown.
“Tours and general and tourist visits by the public prohibited for the first time since the building went into a complete shut down for renovation several years previously.”
“I wrote an article on how language barriers have added to the hardships faced through the Covid crisis for ethnic minorities.
“Further articles shall be forth coming.”
Lise has just completed a new body of work as the second part of Phase II of her current arts and cultural programme, PEACE AND RECONCILE, which is unique on the island of Ireland.
It was endorsed by peace avocators Mary Peters and Bertie Ahern and political VIPs across all five of NI’s main parties.
The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey have been strong supporters of Lise’s peace programme since its conception back in 2016.
Phase II’s, I Am Woman promotes female equality in 21st century.
Lise said: “In addition to a potential hosting at the Engine Room Gallery, I have recently approached Belfast City and Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon Councils to host this body of work as part of their NI Centenary celebrations this year.”
She added: “Before Christmas I submitted an initial proposal for hosting at The Market Place gallery and cultural centre, Armagh.
“The manager is consulting with management this week to discuss this opportunity, which shall include presentations and workshops for the wider communities.
“If I can access potential sponsorship and funding, I shall also be sending a proposal to Belfast City Council for consideration of a large scale exhibition, on the lawns of city hall.
“What a dream come true this would be, an amazing opportunity for a wee artist from the borough that would be.”