Ann brings history back to life

Ann Kelly pictured in the Bogside , August 1969. Photo by Giles Caron
Ann Kelly pictured in the Bogside , August 1969. Photo by Giles Caron

It’s the picture that has caused many a head to turn at the Picturing Derry exhibition.

But amazingly the young blonde haired woman in the image of Derry’s Bogside taken by Gilles Caron in 1969 didn’t even know he was taking her picture.

Ann Kelly was just a young 18 year-old when the shot was captured, but it’s taken 44 years for her to see the picture for the first time.

And this week as she returned to the exact same spot, she said it was lovely to be featuring in another picture of her beloved Derry.

“I had no idea this picture was being taken,” said Ann. “The first I heard about it was when my friend Deirdre texted me one Friday morning asking had I taken up a career in modelling. I had no idea was she was talking about. She told me that my picture was in the ‘Derry Journal’ that day.

“I bought the ‘Journal’ and I couldn’t believe the picture, I had never ever seen it before.

“Back in those days I would have gone up the town a lot and gone round to Littlewoods, it’s quite likely there was a riot going on or had been one that night. I came from Carrigans Lane and would have gone for a look around.

“I didn’t even see the photographer, he wasn’t in front of me so he must have taken the shot with a long angled lens. I think he must have been in Derry for a long time.

Staring at the image of her 18 year-old self, Ann says she still remembers the shoes and how much she loved them.

“I loved those shoes, they were white with a little bow on them.

“The skirt I had bought the year before when I travelled to France. It was brand new because I hadn’t worn it before, but I had shortened it and cut it into a mini skirt.”

Ann’s been in to the Picturing Derry exhibition to see her picture framed on the wall.

“A lot of people who knew me from years ago recognised me in the ‘Journal,’ said Ann. “But some of my friends’ kids didn’t know me.”

Ann has since done some research on Gilles Caron, who famously went missing on April 5, 1970 on a road between Cambodia and Vietnam controlled by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge.

“Caron took pictures all over the world,” she said. “I’ve seen some of the pictures he took of his wife and they are beautiful.

“It’s nice to be able to go into the Picturing Derry exhibition and see my picture and have another look of it.

“Derry is such a beautiful city and I am glad so many people have got to see it in the Caron snaps.”

Picturing Derry, the City of Culture’s first major photographic exhibition, has proved a hit with visitors, local residents and art lovers alike, becoming the most popular exhibition ever to be staged in Derry.

Legendary French photo-journalist Gilles Caron’s previously unseen major body of work during the Battle of the Bogside in August 1969 forms a major part of the exhibition. It also includes the work of other visiting photographers from around the world as well as images by local news photographers and amateur photographers.

The exhibition spans a period of almost 30 years, covering many different aspects of life in the city from 1969 up to the late 1980s.

Picturing Derry continues until Sunday in the City Factory Gallery in Patrick Street, today and tomorrow from 11am - 6pm and Sunday from 1-5 pm.

The next exhibition in the gallery ‘Beyond the Walls’ will examine how histories of conflict have been scarred into the physical fabric of the cities of Berlin, Dubrovnik and Derry, and how lives exist in that shadow. It brings together works by Camerawork, Willie Doherty, Wade Goddard, Clive Limpkin, Homer Sykes, Kai Weidenhoffer, and photographers who lived in Derry throughout the Troubles.

A selection from the Picturing Derry exhibition will also tour to the Grand Hall, Stormont from 12 August - 20 September 2013.