I've written in earlier posts about the photography of my grandpa, Ernest Elliott. He lived in Portaferry from just after the turn of the last century until the mid-1980s, and his work reflects what he saw in his local area over those decades of vast change. Some of his most striking images were of rural life on the Ards Peninsula and around Strangford Lough. Perhaps the most touching, though, are his portraits of local people.
So it's particularly nice that this week in the Down County Museum in Downpatrick, an exhibition of his portraits has opened.
I found it a moving experience to walk round the gallery, looking at each face in turn. Part of that was the fact that it was my grandfather's work, and he'd have been very proud and pleased if an exhibition like this had happened in his lifetime.
Part of it, though, is something that I often feel when looking at portraits. To my eye, in the best portraits there's a sense of connection between the subject and the photographer which creates a moment of openness, almost of vulnerability. The humanness of the subject is clear, in its hopefulness, joy, confidence, sorrow or fear. That can be heart-rending to look at decades afterwards - one authentic moment captured from a life lived and completed.
All these emotions are on view here. The images I've added here are photographs of the photographs, and they don't convey the full quality of the work, but perhaps you'll catch some of those moments nevertheless.