‘Belfast Banksy’ Glen Molloy unveils new artwork of Carl Frampton and Liam Neeson
The artist dubbed the ‘Belfast Banksy’ has unveiled a new 50ft installation at The Filthy Quarter in Belfast, featuring some of Northern Ireland’s best known heroes including Carl Frampton and Liam Neeson.
Glen Molloy has revealed the artwork as part of a collaboration with Bushmills Irish Whiskey's #AnswerTheCall series.
Glen became known around Belfast after murals of famous faces, including David Bowie, Prince and Leonardo DiCaprio, appeared in Corporation Street in the city.
Painting the images in the dead of night, he kept his identity a secret until late last year, earning him the nickname the 'Belfast Banksy - which he says is very flattering.
How do you feel about being referred to as the 'Belfast’s Banksy'?
It’s a little embarrassing and it’s actually quite hard to convey how I feel about the comparison, if I’m honest.
On the one-hand, I think Banksy is a genius and to be compared to him is very flattering. He is one of the world’s most popular artists and the weight that he has given to the movement is incredible.
But, I don’t see any parallels between me and him. I am just a laid-back guy and would never out myself in the same box as Banksy.
What motivated you to start painting the murals in Belfast?
It took my nearly 46 years to believe in my art and channel my creativity into what I’m doing now.
I always did graffiti, anonymous as is the culture of graffiti. I spent years painting like that and mystery shrouded the inexplicable art that was springing up across the Belfast Docks area and beyond.
It wasn’t until recently, when I noticed other artists getting the recognition they deserved for their work, I thought I might be as good as them so I went for it and thankfully it paid off.
I still prefer to work under the shelter of darkness, but it’s nice to share my art more openly now. Using my talent to surprise and inspire is the motivation behind what I do now.
Why do you decide to paint in the middle of the night?
First and foremost, the conditions are better at night time for my individual style and technique.
I’ve always painted at night, because it’s quiet and calm under the safe cover of darkness.
As well as technical reasons, I enjoy working on a piece of art while the city sleeps and thinking about the city being surprised when they wake up. It’s almost like a gift to the city.
Have you been surprised by the warm reception your art has received?
I am totally blown away. Six months ago I was going without electric and food just to buy paint to fulfil my creative desire. Now, people are complimenting and embracing my art. It means a lot because art is very personal and there’s meaning behind everything I do.
It’s great to see how local street art, all of it and not just mine has put Belfast firmly on the map as a city where amazingly creative things happen. I’m really enjoying the work I have been doing on a commercial level too – these projects allow me to stretch my creativity to find something that is true to me and my style and works for the customer.
I haven’t had to compromise my style on any piece and I appreciate that people respect that. I hope to do more commissioned pieces this year and continue to grow creatively because of it.
What factors help you decide who or what to paint?
Sometimes I will paint a piece that is reflective of an issue that I care about – maybe something that is born out of a personal experiences or things that are unacceptable that I think people are ignoring, for example ill treatment of the homeless community here in Belfast.
When I paint social commentary pieces, I don’t sign it so that it’s all about the meaning. I also like to paint pieces that celebrate Belfast and celebrate the good things we can offer.
How would you describe your #AnswerTheCall in collaboration with Bushmills Irish Whiskey?
The #AnswerTheCall piece at The Filthy Quarter is a celebration of local talent. I included people whose stories mean something to me – Carl Frampton, Neil Hannon, Liam Neeson and Ricky Warwick.
Northern Ireland is not the easiest place to succeed – we can be quick to knock people and we’ve been through a lot but the success stories remind us of how brilliant we can be.
I love painting people who like me have defied convention and gone after what they wanted. I hope the piece motivates those who are struggling or haven’t yet answered their call.
Can we expect more surprise murals popping up in Belfast soon?
I’m always thinking of my next idea – but I couldn’t let the cat out of the bag. I would say people can keep up to date on my Facebook page, Glen Molloy Creative.
- For more information about the #AnswerTheCall event series, visit answerthecall.co.uk
Belfast Telegraph Digital