Magnum Foundation

Magnum Foundation

Laying Foundations for Change: Capital Investments of The Atlantic Philanthropies

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From left to right, Paul Seawright, Donovan Wylie, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Atlantic CEO Christopher Oechsli and Country Director Mary Sutton (front), Richard Wade, and Andrew Rankin. © Paul Sharp

On September 17, 2015, Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched Laying Foundations for Change: Capital Investments of The Atlantic Philanthropies at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

The two volume book, a collaboration between Magnum Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies, details Atlantic’s capital investments over four decades on five continents. Atlantic has invested more than $2.5 billion in capital projects and a total of nearly $8 billion to improve the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people around the world.  The foundation will make its final grants in 2016.

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Late night kayaking at University Arena Pool, Ireland’s first Olympic-size pool, University of Limerick. © Martin Parr

University education has been a primary focus for Atlantic in Ireland, North and South. It was therefore fitting that photographers Paul Seawright, Head of School at Ulster University’s Belfast School of Art, and Donovan Wylie, a lecturer there, attended the launch together with recent graduates of their program, Andrew Rankin and Richard Wade. All four, together with Ulster University professor Martin Parr, photographed for the Ireland portion of the project.

In producing Laying Foundations for Change, Atlantic’s grant provided for Magnum Foundation to design a program for students and recent photography graduates in Ireland, South Africa, the United States, and Vietnam to participate directly in the project, in collaboration and conversation with established photographers. The goal was to give young photographers an opportunity to expand their practice in a supported environment, while also helping them to expand their networks.  Both Rankin and Wade ended up spending extensive time with the communities they encountered while photographing for the book.

Wylie and Seawright were struck by the difference the collaborative nature of the project made for their students. In the future, they plan to continue to look for ways to include students and graduates in their own work as a part of their School’s curriculum.    

Over the coming weeks, we will be featuring work from young photographers around the world who participated in the making of Laying Foundations for Change.

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The Aughrim Active Retirement Group, part of the Lifecourse Institute program at NUI Galway. © Paul Seawright