None political street art in Belfast
The murals, street art, frescoes of Belfast are a sight to see even if you can’t decide on what to call them. These public artworks go far beyond Catholic and Protestant areas. With a convulsive history like few others, the centre of Belfast is decorated profusely with creative and imaginative street art. Some would call it graffiti; for me, this is street art at its best.
Just take a walk through the Cathedral Quarter and be seduced by the shapes and colours of some of the most incredible urban art free to all. From Manny’s Fish and chips to the entire walls inside the courtyard at The Duke of York; they are thick with art, and you feel like a child in a sweets shop, you don’t know what to photograph first. Abandoned buildings are held together with decorated walls.
St Anne’s Area
My start point was St Anne’s Church, when you walk around the block you come to the street art of a crouching child who’s holding in his hands a dove killed by two arrows. One Catholic and the other Protestant, a work entitled “The son of Protagoras.” This work was sprayed in 2014 by mysterious French artist MTO. I can’t be sure of the message, but can religion destroy peace? Reading about Protagoras, the Greek philosopher who advocated agnosticism, I could be on to something.
Commercial Street Belfast
If you visit the Commercial Street, in Belfast make sure you have a drink in The Duke of York pub, who’s inner courtyard is filled with murals from top to bottom. The significant part of this courtyard it’s private, and it’s only for paying purchasers at the bar. So no black cab parties or hungry street art tourists, who want a selfie.
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
A poem by W. B. Yeats
Secrets behind the gate
Behind the gate is the largest group of murals. These murals combine social commentary with local personalities and themes related to Northern Ireland society. The two most giant mural paintings were painted by artists Danny Devenney and Marty Lyons in 2010.
Who do you recognise
Looking around the walls, you can recognise in particular the former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, The Hedge and Bono’s U2 group, the actor Liam Neeson, the singer Sinead O’Connor; the Belfast-born author of the Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis … and even some outsiders such as John Lennon and Bob Dylan.
Salvador Dali-inspired street art.
Even a street artist has brought Salvador Dali to Belfast. In the court of Commercial Street can be found music and a spray of colours converged in a remarkable happening in front of the Dalí wall. The street art seeks to create a dialogue between the work of the surrealist master and urban art or street art, one of the most typical forms of expression of our time.
As a fan of Dali, I saw his face plastered high up in the heavens of a wall. Dali, looking down on us like ants on the street. The result is as varied as surprising. Many street arts used Dalí’s famous image with his characteristic moustache. Other street art explored the themes of the Spanish master and his dream universe by taking him to the new supports of urban art.
Dalí’s work has many points in common with street art. Dalí was a famous artist but also of the absurd and provocation. He used numerous techniques and explored everything he could.
It is the same logic as street-art artists who confront the harsh context of the street and who take the walls to make a work of art and offer it to the public. It was not exactly the case for Dalí, but he did many performances spontaneously on the street during his life.
Every year, some paintings disappear and give way to new paintings too. I wrote this article in August 2019. I hope you can update me when something new arrives on the walls.
At every street corner, colourful murals help to change the face of Belfast: a car driving at night in the lights of an unnamed city, there a gigantic portrait of a bearded cook with a lobster. Further on, a young girl is painted in blue with a melancholy look.
Over One Hundred works
In total, over a hundred works have been produced by artists from Northern Ireland and the rest of the world. Adam Turkington is the visionary hero of Belfast he is the one who pioneered the street art festival, “Culture Night” which he created in 2002. Each year in September, dozens of artists are entrusted with a wall during a weekend with total freedom of creation.
Every year, during Culture Night, Belfast gets a makeover and welcomes new paintings on the walls of the city, sometimes hidden, yet with some leg work, all of them can be found. If you are visiting Belfast city centre, take a tour of these breath-taking paintings! They are just vast and incredible in some places.
Many of these paintings are part of the Hit the North Becks project, in association with Seedhead Arts, which also offers Belfast street art tours (tours cost around £ 8 per person and last 2 hours.)
See below for a gallery of more street art in Belfast.
Visit the Political Murals page http://www.transfigurephotography.co.uk/political-murals-and-street-art-in-belfast/
Thank you to Laila Khan for proofreading the article http://www.transfigurephotography.co.uk/laila-khan-proofreader/