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Belfast, Northern Ireland 


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Beautiful Dawn (2011)

The Beautiful Dawn photobook may be viewed and purchased online. The 80 page book contains 35 colour images, including text from the artist about the work and an interview with Jason Smyth.

 80 Pages
 25 cm x 20 cm
 Linen Hardcover with Dust Jacket

Artist's Introduction to Photobook 

At the end of 2009 I visited Calvary for the first time.

I felt an immediate connection with the place and the people - especially the people. Soon after, in January 2010 I began to go to Calvary Christian Centre, a small church in Belfast, on a regular basis helping out with their ‘Soup and Stew’ ministry to the homeless. Before too long I was drawn to Jason Smyth. I suppose for a number of reasons, but initially at least, because he kept pigeons on the roof of the church.

Jason Smyth grew up in Dublin. As a teenager, it wasn’t too long before he tried marijuana for the first time. He started to get into all sorts of trouble - stealing, fighting, burning buildings, ending up in prison on several occasions. He was soon living on the street, addicted to drugs.

Then his life began to change. He admitted for the first time that he needed help.

After a long and difficult process he began to turn his life around, which eventually ended up with him heading to Singapore to train to become a Christian missionary. 

As I spent time with Jason during 2010 at church, on the roof, at the pigeon club, at his home in Belfast, in Dublin, developing our relationship, I began to find out more about him, his passions and his past. We often talked about his pigeons and his plans to extend the loft. We talked about his faith in God and his relationship with Jesus. We talked about life and we talked about death. We talked about Bee Ling.

Bee Ling was Jason’s wife. When he was out in Singapore training, he met her, they fell in love and married. They had lots of plans for their life together. Together they moved to Dublin and then on to Calvary Christian Centre. One month before they got married though, Bee Ling had been diagnosed with cancer. About a year later she died.

I began to realise and sense Bee Ling’s presence, or more precisely her absence of presence in his life. He was mourning for her, trying to move on. Jason’s pigeons were in some way part of this process. After Bee Ling died Jason's pastor at Calvary suggested to him that he should build a loft for his pigeons on the roof of the church - to give him focus, purpose.

At Jason’s home traces of Bee Ling were still present. Her clothes, books, mobile phone, glasses, photographs were still there. I couldn’t help but wonder how Jason's life would be so different if Bee Ling was still alive. Would he be living in a tower block, would he be spending so much time at work and with his pigeons? I knew for sure that he wouldn’t have had his double bed pushed against the wall, leaving only one side to get in. Although he has many friends and commitments, I often felt there was a distance, a tension in these relationships - with Bee Ling around would these relationships also be more complete?

As the months moved on and winter arrived, I began to sense that things were changing. There were glimmers of hope that Jason was ready to move on, or to at least accept the need to start the process of moving on.

Bee Ling’s name can loosely be translated from the Chinese as meaning ‘Beautiful Dawn’. Which for me, captures the essence of what this body of work is about. It’s about the beauty of Bee Ling’s spirit and also about the stage of life, or perhaps more appropriately the stage of death, at which I met and spent time with Jason Smyth - the moment after which the sky is no longer completely dark.