Representing the region’s past and present political and religious divisions, murals have become symbols of Northern Ireland.
Anyone who ever visited the city knows that Belfast and its walls are covered in art. These pieces are representative of how the people navigate the divided city and how they build shared spaces for people of all backgrounds to co-exist
Belfast-based street artists are now joined by artists from across the globe to leave their marks on the city, especially in the Cathedral Quarter.
Seedhead Arts, the curators of Hit the North Festival offer a weekly walking tour of the city, visiting the pieces that tell the meaning of love, laughter, anger and so much more.
Below you can see some examples of the extraordinary murals that decorate the city.
Olaudah Equiano – Dreph – 2020
Part of the Belfast Entries Project, the mural depicts Olaudah Equiano, one of the first black abolitionists who visited Ireland in the late 1700’s. A gifted lecturer and writer he acted as a spokesperson on enslavement. His autobiography ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’.
This mural is based on the black and white portrait by William Denton and engraved by Daniel Orme.
Spirit of Commerce
The piece by Irony centers around commercial themes in Ciaran Carson’s many visions of Belfast and how it mirrors The Entries industrious and economic history.
Part of the Belfast Entries Project, the mural invokes feelings of community prosperity.
“That energy and dynamism of a bustling town where there is work to be done money to be made and nice things to buy. A bright future awaits those who roll up their sleeves and let the energy carry them like the wind carries the trading ships.”
The central figure of the art piece is of a ship’s figurehead that emits a sense of elevation from the darkness of the alley below into a bright sky as if a city on the rise.
The Son of Protagoras – MTO – 2014
A commentary on the NI conflict, the art is from the 2014 Hit the North Festival.
Protagoras is commonly believed to be the first recorded skeptic to have questioned the existence of Gods.
This street art is MTO’s response to seeing religion as the cause of our problems. The arrows penetrating the dove represent Catholicism and Protestanism, the boy looks over at Belfast Cathedral just over the road.
Lyra – ESTR – 2019
This piece is a memorial to Lyra McKee the young journalist killed by the New IRA while observing a riot in the Creggan area of Derry in 2019.
After Lyra’s murder, her family and friends challenged the strength of paramilitary and associated political groups in Derry, by leaving red handprints on murals and office walls in the area.
The mural received a lot of media coverage across the globe. Locals, friends and family, and those shocked by her murder in Belfast, leave small tributes in front of it.
Quarantined Bodies – Kerrie Hannah – 2020
The artist, Kerrie revealed, that the figures in the piece are folded and twisted on themselves to convey the feeling of containment that came about from being in lockdown.
The art is a self-portrait of Kerrie and her partner Tiarnán and their cat squashed onto the tiny sofa in their house, binging Netflix. It represents the intensity of being in lockdown with your other half.
There is still time to join the two-hour walk around the ever-changing face of Belfast Street Art every Sunday at noon.
For more information about the tour and to find the Street Art Map go to https://www.seedheadarts.com/street-art