Nelson McGonagle

looking into the past

Claire Lynch, one of Youth Arts Correspondents, reviews our current exhibition The People of Limavady Past.

The Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre has been a vibrant hub of activity ever since it opened its doors in October 2010. Every month it offers a wide and diverse range of theatrical performances, discussions, exhibitions and film screenings as well as educational experiences and classes for both children and adults. Exhibitions often run for several weeks at a time and are free of charge, so it is well worth just popping in sometime to see what’s going on.

The People of Limavady Past is the latest exhibition to go down a storm in the centre, which displays Nelson McGonagle’s fascinating collection of black and white still images depicting life in the Roe Valley over the last century.

Jamie Austin, Museums/Heritage Officer for Limavady Borough Council, whose idea it was to curate the exhibition due to her enthusiasm for photography, describes the immense interest in the display from local people who have been flocking in and recognising their friends, relatives and even themselves on occasion. The visitor book, filled with comments of gratitude and awe, imply that many people have been back several times, sometimes bringing friends with them to reminisce together about their days gone by. Visitors who have moved away from Limavady have also been travelling to the centre, and amazingly some of them are seeing family members for the first time!
Photographs are powerful sources in reliving oft-forgotten moments, especially for those who have lived long and full lives and have perhaps not thought about their earlier years for a while. One lady I spoke to, knew many of the people in the photographs, and the ones whose names escaped her, she recognised their faces or knew the family name they came from. The various landmarks brought back experiences of her time spent working in the different restaurants and hotels around the town, where she recalled the strict, high standards expected of her. We spoke for a long while about how certain things have changed over the years, not just the buildings and the houses, but also ideas and values.

 

Despite there being more than 60 years between us, we found common ground in having both spent time growing up in the area and in knowing the street names and surroundings. While much looks different, we concluded that much too is the same. It was this encounter that made the experience all the richer for me and I am grateful for this lady’s generosity in sharing her story.
After 6 weeks on display, The People of Limavady Past will draw to a close on Tuesday 24 February, however it will be on display again at the Arts Centre from 4 July-29 August, followed by an exhibition at Green Lane Museum. The centre is still interested in hearing from people who may have images similar to these ones, so if you have some photographs you would like to contribute, contact Jamie Austin, Museums/Heritage Officer at the Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre.
If you have a spare 30 minutes in your day, I highly recommend going along to view the photographs. You never know who you might recognise, or what feelings the images will evoke, or better still, what interesting and inspiring stranger you might meet.

 

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This entry was posted on February 20th, 2015 at 3:38 pm by Desima

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