Captivating exhibition bares soul of Irish road racing

A stunning photographic exhibition for BBC Northern Ireland by internationally renowned photographer Stephen Davison has laid bare the soul of Irish road racing.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 11:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:31 pm
The Road Racing People exhibition is set to tour Northern Ireland in April.
The Road Racing People exhibition is set to tour Northern Ireland in April.

The fascinating display, Road Racing People, has been produced in collaboration with independent production company DoubleBand Films – the team behind the smash hit documentary ROAD – and is the perfect complement to a new three-part BBC NI series due to be screened in April that delves inside the very heart of the sport.

The exhibition consists of 26 portraits of riders, fans, mechanics and families taken during the 2016 season over a period of 121 days at the Mid Antrim 150, Tandragee 100, Cookstown 100, Skerries 100, North West 200 and Armoy road races.

Using a portable studio and a 50mm lens, Davison photographed 318 people over the course of the season, depicting the passion, enthusiasm and essence of the sport.

As well as the riders, Davison’s photos showcase those on the other side of the hedge – the volunteers, families and organisers – ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Sadly, the exhibition also reflects the unforgiving nature of road racing. Two riders who took part, Malachi Mitchell-Thomas and Paul Shoesmith, were tragically killed during the period that filming was taking place last year at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT respectively.

Davison said: “The attraction of this spectacle is obvious, but my greatest fascination in 25 years of photographing road racing has always been with the people involved. Making these portraits to accompany the filming of DoubleBand’s Road Riders series for the BBC was the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition.”

The exhibition is supported by Libraries NI and curated by Sarah Edge, Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies in the School of Communication and Media at Ulster University, Coleraine. The Road Racing People exhibition will be touring Northern Ireland from early April in partnership with Libraries NI, with dates and venues listed on the Libraries NI website.

Dermot Lavery of DoubleBand Films added: “We wanted to convey the sport’s very real sense of family and community. Stephen’s pictures record and tell us something revealing about motorcycle road racing, its people and personalities in a way that moving images cannot.”

Broadcast dates for the captivating TV series, Road Riders, will be confirmed soon.