ART, CONFLICT & REMEMBERING:
THE MURALS OF THE BOGSIDE ARTISTS
Founded in 2015, the exhibition features the twelve murals in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland painted by Tom Kelly, William Kelly and Kevin Hasson, known together as the Bogside Artists.
The murals tell the story of the Troubles as experienced by the artists and their community in the Bogside area of Derry.
The Bogside was the epicentre of the conflict that began on 5th October 1968 with a non-sectarian civil rights march in Derry, and concluded with the Good Friday Agreement on 10th April 1998 in Belfast.
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH CAMBRIDGE
30 January - 20 February 2022
Marking the 50th Anniversary of
Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972) was the day when thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators were killed by British Paratroopers in the Bogside. It marked a major turning point in the history of the Troubles as it ended peaceful marches and radicalised many young people into joining the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
The Troubles are commonly known as a longstanding and intractable sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Yet, the events that sparked the Troubles were not about religious differences or territorial claims but, like the beginnings of so many global conflicts, about basic civil rights. Since the partition of Ireland and the foundation of Northern Ireland, a majority Protestant Government supported by a Protestant police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and their quasi-paramilitary reserves the B-Specials, had suppressed and discriminated against the Catholic population of Derry in terms of housing, employment and voting rights.
In the late 1960’s, inspired by the civil rights movement in America, Catholics took to the streets to protest against their marginalised status and for their right to be treated as full British citizens. Seeking to deter further protests the British Government sent in their armed forces and, on 30 January 1972, fourteen unarmed civil protesters were fatally shot by British Paratroopers. Since known as "Bloody Sunday," the walls on which the murals are painted still contain the bullet holes of the shots that were fired that day.
The violent attack by the British Government on its own citizens, and the subsequent cover-up of the soldiers' actions, marked a major turning point in the history of the Troubles. It ended peaceful demonstrations and radicalised many young people into joining the Provisional IRA. As Lord Saville put it in his report:
What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.
Bloody Sunday Inquiry report by Lord Saville, 15th June, 2010.
What happened on Bloody Sunday should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and the hurt of that day and with a lifetime of loss.
David Cameron in response to the report.
About the exhibition
Art often speaks more powerfully than words. The murals by the Bogside Artists are the only large work of public art in the UK that commemorates Bloody Sunday and its victims.
The exhibition shows large images of the murals alongside historic photographs and audio-visual materials to place them in their broader social and political context. The exhibition invites viewers to reflect on the history and legacy of the Troubles and the effects of conflict on ordinary citizens, especially children. In a time of growing tensions around borders and the post-Brexit protocol, this is more relevant than ever.
The exhibition has previously been shown in the UK in the cathedrals of Coventry, Norwich and Leicester, at Edinburgh and London Universities, at Greenbelt Festival and various human rights organisations. All exhibitions have involved the participation of the artists with talks, Q&A sessions and panel discussions.
Art. Conflict and Remembering
A wound must be cleaned out and examined before it will heal; it is the unexamined wound that festers and eventually poisons.
Bishop Desmond Tutu
Our work shows the wounds.
The Bogside Artists
Reconciliation happens when my enemy tells me my story and I am able to say: ‘That is my story’.
This is our story: what is yours?
The Bogside Artists
For more on art, reconciliation and peacebuilding click here.
Peaceful communities and just societies are built upon a willingness to face the past and listen to each other's stories. The exhibition aims to facilitate conversations across divides. It opens and ends with the following quotes: