Presentation on theme: "MURALS OF NORTHERN IRELAND Walls That Speak By Daria Pieniazek."— Presentation transcript:
MURALS OF NORTHERN IRELAND Walls That Speak By Daria Pieniazek
Northern Ireland has become famous for the murals painted in almost every area of the country… They are a fascinating cultural phenomenon depicting not only the history of Northern Ireland conflict but also the political views of both traditions – Republican and Loyalist. ‘In little more than a decade mural painting has developed into one of the most dynamic media for symbolic expression in the north of Ireland.’ Neil Jarman
Nationalist / Republican Murals These IRA republican murals are almost a snapshot of the events that have happened in the history of Northern Ireland. The faces of victims of violent political struggle appear as those of the martyrs that lost their lives during the conflict. Hands bound by barbed wire and images of republican campaigns: prison strip searches, repatriation of Irish POWs, hunger strikers, blanket men, Long Kesh, Roisin McAliskey, internment, plastic bullets, censorship – these are the recurring patterns of many nationalist murals.
The mural presented underneath was inspired by one of the most famous paintings in European history which is Eugene Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Guiding The People’. The mural is framed with a sophisticated Celtic pattern supported by Irish symbols which emphasise even more the message of the painting – exhorting to fight for freedom. The cover of the filmed biography of Irish patriot Michael Collins (played by Liam Neeson) was also based on the same idea.
Jim Bryson (25) and Patrick Mulvenna (19) Jim Bryson (25) and Patrick Mulvenna (19) were both IRA volunteers shot during a gun battle from a concealed British Army observation post on the Ballymurphy Road on 31 st August 1973. This mural commemorates their death. Both men are portrayed carrying guns on patrol through the streets of Ballymurphy, with Celtic surround and the lark at the top of the mural. The green lorry in the right bottom corner was once hijacked by Bryson. Standing on the top of it he was handling Guinness to people as a legendary Robin Hood.
Apart from murals depicting scenes of ‘the Troubles’ with almost a photographic precision, there are many paintings rooted in folk tales and culture which world is often mentioned as the most powerful and appealing medium of communication. Celtic heritage plays an important role in the art of murals. Characters taken from Irish mythology like Cuchulainn (who embodies resilience against invaders, bravery and physical strength) or Eire (legendary Irish queen) reinforce the significance and symbolic context of paintings.
Loyalist/Unionist Murals The Loyalists’ way of marking territory focuses on presenting paramilitary groups, like UDA for instance, which usually are represented by gunmen dressed in black. The murals often seem to remind complicated mosaics of various symbols rooted in Loyalist tradition and history. Clenched Fist colours of Union JackCrown The Clenched Fist (which is perhaps the strongest Loyalist emblem in existence), the colours of Union Jack and the Crown (symbolising the British monarchy( are only few of many images appearing on Loyalists’ murals.
King William III of Orange'King Billy The image of King William III of Orange (known also as 'King Billy ') might be found on many walls all over Belfast. This Dutchman who was declared sovereign of England, Scotland and Ireland in February 1689, won the Protestant victory over Catholic King James II (a Scotsman) on 1 July 1690 at the Battle of Boyne. The image of King William crossing the Boyne River on a horse heralds a victory. The blue and white coat of arms standing for defeated Scottish king is juxtaposed with red and white symbol of Ulster. The crown at the top of the mural and the date of the battle emphasise the glory of King Billy.
The mural presented underneath consists of mentioned combination of patterns and symbols. The blue background representing the royalty and the letters UDA standing for Ulster Defence Association are accompanied by Loyalist badges. The Red Hand of Ulster originates from a mythical tale and Protestants see it as representing the six counties of Northern Ireland. Two plaques read "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees in an Irish Republic" and "We will never forsake the blue skies of Ulster for the grey mist of an Irish Republic".
Some of chosen Loyalist murals Some of chosen Loyalist murals
But murals are not only about ‘the Troubles’… Recently on the streets of Belfast and other cities something new has appeared - murals touching social issues (like drug abuse, for instance) or current political conflicts (e.g. supporting Palestine). Those essential matters found their expression in the art of murals and seem to be repeated like an echo by the walls that speak.
Murals are much more than this short presentation. I dared to show just a glimpse of a much bigger whole. HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT