New Beirut 11 September – 5 October 2013 Edmund Pearce Gallery Level 2 Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street (cnr Flinders …


New Beirut

11 September – 5 October 2013
Edmund Pearce Gallery
Level 2 Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street
(cnr Flinders Lane), Melbourne VIC
Wed – Sat 11am – 5pm

The Lebanese know better than most how cities rise and fall. After 16 years of bitter civil war the word “Beirut” became synonymous with violence, death and ruin. When a peace accord was signed in 1990, Beirut was devastated. Up to one third of the population had fled and another 100,000 had lost their lives.


A young girl looks over the Mediterranean.


No one expected such evil from a city previously renowned for its tolerance and languid Mediterranean lifestyle. While much of the Arab world has been blown apart by social upheaval, mass violence, and political turmoil, Beirut, has been sitting quietly on its Mediterranean perch, happy and astonished to be a spectator for once. (Even the New York Times in 2012 hailed it a “haven amid turmoil”.)

By day, buzzing scooters and battered old Mercedes taxis honk their way along palm-lined boulevards, unimpeded by demonstrations. By night, its people stroll along the seaside The Corniche, smoke water pipes in cafø©s, and indulge in the Lebanese capital’s legendary nightlife.

Beirut and its 1.5 million people have literally risen from the ashes. Whilst religious and political tensions simmer just under the surface Beirut has experienced a period of calm that has fostered a renaissance of art, fashion, and gastronomy, propelling the famously bullet-riddled city to emerge as the Arab world”Ÿs creative centre.

Recently violence spread across the border from Syria with a bomb attack in a Shi’ite district of southern Beirut, a stronghold of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and was the deadliest in the capital since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. This has shaken a sense of peace and security the people of Beirut have come to embrace.

About Paul Blackmore

Paul Blackmore is an Australian born photographer and photojournalist. His photo essays and stories have been published in international media such as Time, L’Express, Le Monde and Geo Magazines. He has published two books of photo essays. His latest book  At Water’s Edge, published in 2012 (exhibited at Edmund Pearce Gallery in 2012) explores the intimate relationship between humanity and its most vital natural resource ““ water.

Australian writer David Malouf once said of Blackmore’s work: “For all its grimness, the world he [Paul Blackmore] presents is aglow with life, little incidental beauties, and an abiding mystery”.

In 2010 a series of photos from  At Water’s Edge  were exhibited at the esteemed Biennale D’Limage France and in 2012, at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City. The artist was one of only two Australian photographers (the other Max Pam) selected to be part of the prestigious NAZAR: Photographs from the Arab World US touring exhibition. This exhibition is accompanied by a 268-page book. For more info

Blackmore is the winner of a long list of national and international photographic Awards and Prizes; his work has been exhibited around the world in both solo and group exhibitions. His work is held in many private collections and in the public collections of the State Library NSW, Australian Museum and the National Maritime Museum of Australia.

He has gained prominence through his exhibitions at: Camera One in New York; Stills Gallery in Sydney; Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney; Perpignan in France; and Edmund Pearce Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne.

Paul Blackmore lives in Sydney and travels extensively both in Australia and overseas.

[Text and images courtesy]  


Shatila.  Boys play football in the refugee camp.



Achrafieh.  The Christian area of East Beirut.  This building is on the Green Line that divided the city during the war between Muslims and Christians and was the scene of intense fighting.  During the war Beirut was split into a Christian eastern half and the Muslim west. Most of the fighting occurred along the Green Line that separated the two.  When the war ended squatters, and families displaced by war, moved in to the damaged buildings.  Many have now been repaired but several remain as a testament to the horrors of Lebanon’s civil conflict.



Nightclub: al Mandaloun in Achrafieh (2002).  A suburb in the eastern half of Beirut and home to an overwhelmingly French-speaking, Christian population.



La Plage



Many of the buildings that were destroyed during the war are being rebuilt or in this case reoccupied (2002).



Cafe in a Muslim district of Beirut.



Ain el-Hilweh .Suicide bombers from Hamas march in celebration of their anniversary. It is the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon with about 75,000 residents.