MS 69 The Desht Collection

MS 69/1/2 Photo of flute band parading past abandoned building on Ballygomartin Road.

Special Collections is happy to announce that our new manuscript collection, the Desht Collection, is now available for consultation.

In 2006 documentary photographer Martin Desht accepted a teaching residency at Queen’s University Belfast. During this time, he toured Belfast extensively, photographing as he went. The results of this residency became the exhibit A Certain Peace: Acceptance and Defiance in Northern Ireland.

Desht’s interest in photography first began in the 1980’s, while he was working onboard the SV Harvey Gamage, a schooner, off the coast of New England. He soon came to specialise in post-industrial landscapes, with a particular focus on Pennsylvania. His work has been displayed at Harvard, NYU and by the US Department of Labour. Eventually, this interest would draw him to the post-industrial and post-conflict landscapes of Belfast. 

MS 69 The Desht Collection, which was kindly donated to us by Mr Desht, contains the original film negatives from A Certain Peace, as well as both black and white and colour prints, and other items such Desht’s personal notebook from the period he was working in Belfast. The photos are a fascinating portrait of Belfast at a certain period of history, after the Good Friday Agreement and before St Andrews. Taken on both sides of the sectarian divide they very much put the sectarian tensions that still existed at the time to the foreground.

The full details of what is contained in the collection can be found in the Desht Collection Listing.

The collection can be viewed by appointment, to make an appointment please contact us at