Paul Graham studied for a BSc at Bristol University and in 1980 held his first exhibition, House Portraits: photographs of modern detached suburban houses. These pictures provided evidence of Graham’s attraction to social themes and to the traces of history in the everyday, a recurrent theme of his work. Three trips to Northern Ireland, beginning in 1984, resulted in three series of works relating to the political and social landscape of the province. Troubled Land, the first of the series, looked at the small but insistent signs of deep political division within the landscape of Northern Ireland. The two subsequent series concentrated on images of people and the final group, Untitled (Cease Fire), of 1994 reflected on the nature of peace and instability.

The works in the Collection from Troubled Land are very different from the stereotyped images published by the daily media or the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in the mid 1980s. They avoid both clichés of sensationalist urban mayhem, or escapist rural idyll: the images flow from inner city through the fringe towns and villages out into the countryside, concentrating in each case upon the visual footnotes of the conflict, These photographs take a circumspect, ordered and calmly distanced view that provides no drama or easy answers, but examine the tentative, provisional relationship between the landscape of Northern Ireland and the troubles of its society.

Documentary Dilemmas Aspects of British Documentary Photography 1983 - 1993, The British Council 1994