Art, Conflict and Remembering

By Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin - 02 November 2017
Bogside Artists

It is not every day that you encounter dramatic images of street riots and conflict in the serene surroundings of Norwich Cathedral. Yet this is exactly what you will see if you visit the Hostry between 3 and 25 November. The images are part of a unique exhibition called ‘Art, Conflict and Remembering: the Murals of the Bogside Artists,’ featuring the The People’s Gallery in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Bogside was the epicentre of the violent, thirty-year conflict known as The Troubles. The murals depict seminal events from that period as experienced first-hand by the artists and their community. Unlike most murals in Northern Ireland, their murals are distinctly non-sectarian. They show no emblems or ensigns linking them to any ethnic or para-military group. Instead they serve as commemorative talking points to process painful memories that often resonate with visitors from other areas of conflict. They offer a profound awareness of the long-lasting trauma and effects of conflict on ordinary citizens not only in Northern Ireland but in many other places in the world.

Recent discussions about the UK after Brexit and the Democratic Unionists’ support for Westminster Conservatives have put Northern Ireland firmly back on to the political agenda. This calls for a renewed and better understanding of its recent history, including Northern Ireland’s Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. Bishop Tutu once said: ‘A wound must be cleaned out and examined before it will heal; it is the unexamined wound that festers and eventually poisons.’

Art sometimes speaks more powerfully than words. This exhibition aims to provide a safe space for open-ended, cross-community conversations that can nurture empathy and mutual understanding. As theologian Stanley Hauerwas put it: ‘Reconciliation happens when my enemy tells me my story and I am able to say “That is my story”.’ When the exhibition was shown in other venues, including Coventry Cathedral and Greenbelt Festival, it left many viewers touched and moved.

On 11 November, two Bogside Artists, Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson, will be present at the Cathedral’s Hostry to talk about their murals. The artists always welcome open conversation and discussion. As they put it: ‘This is our story: what is yours?’ This is a unique opportunity to meet the artist that should not be missed.

'Murals of the Bogside Artists' is free to attend in the Hostry Exhibition Space. Open 9.30am - 4.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10.00am - 3.00pm on Sundays.

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