A group of 50 young people turned graffiti street art on its head last month (March 2019) by producing two colourful peace murals in Derry~Londonderry, bringing to a close their Troubles Art engagement programme.
This unique programme saw a group of 50 young people aged 14-16 come together from Strabane and Letterkenny to explore aspects of the history of Derry~Londonderry, view artwork relating to the Troubles, and make their own creative response to the subject matter.
The group first visited the Nerve Visual Gallery, Ebrington, to see the Troubles Art exhibition featuring works from the National Museums NI Troubles art collection. Subsequent outings involved a trip to the Ulster Museum, Belfast, to take a tour of the ‘Troubles and Beyond’ gallery, and tours of The Siege Museum and the Museum of Free Derry, as well as a walking tour of the city Walls.
The last two sessions were spent with UV Arts (producers of the famous Derry Girls mural) at The Playhouse, learning how to produce positive graffiti artwork. The participants brainstormed through words and symbols of conflict as seen in the previous weeks, and used spray-paints and stencils to recreate these as a backdrop for three murals of their own design. On top of these negative messages from the past, they sprayed three large words to define their wishes: ‘HOPE’, ‘RESPECT’ and ‘FUTURE’.
Here’s what some of the young people had to say about the programme:
‘The art exhibitions were very interesting as we learnt a lot about the Troubles and how difficult the times were. The people we met were very friendly and explained the art very thoroughly. We made new friends too. The spray paint was very fun and clever how we wrote the word “HOPE” to signify the hope these people need. I understand the Troubles a lot more and overall the programme was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Participant from Strabane
‘The trips to Derry and Belfast were very interesting and taught me a lot about the Troubles. I found the trip brilliant and well organised. We were never waiting around or bored. The spray painting was brilliant. I loved spray painting the positive word and it taught me about the Troubles.’ Participant from Strabane
‘I thoroughly enjoyed the Making the Future programme. I learned new skills and information throughout the course. I found that it was very engaging and educational. I learned the importance of the Troubles. Every artist’s work I saw was unique and had a message you could interpret in your own way.’ Participant from Letterkenny
‘I enjoyed the whole experience of Making the Future. We were brought to light on Troubles before our time and were shown so many different understandings of the Troubles in Derry through different artists. I was able to see different perspectives and different takes on how everything took place. This experience gave us the opportunity to mix with people across the border. We were taught about Bloody Sunday which made it really real for us as we learned the speaker’s brother was killed. This brought me to a realisation of how lucky we are to be living in this time and for the people who fought for peace at the time. I would really recommend they programme to all our age group to give a better understanding of the Troubles.’ Participant from Letterkenny