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Artist Aly Harte captures timeless spirit of the Belfast Telegraph in new painting


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Aly Harte with her artwork for the Belfast Telegraph 150th celebrations

Aly Harte with her artwork for the Belfast Telegraph 150th celebrations

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Aly Harte with her artwork for the Belfast Telegraph 150th celebrations

Artist Aly Harte says she is proud of her latest work marking the 150th anniversary of the Belfast Telegraph.

The commission came just as the busy mum-of-three was emerging from spending the last four months of lockdown sharing her skills to teach people of all ages how to draw.

Her painting features the former Belfast Telegraph building on Royal Avenue and its landmark clock that kept time for the people of the city for almost 150 years.

Throughout two World Wars, Luftwaffe air raids, and the bombs and bullets of the Troubles, the Tele clock was a constant presence in the life of the city and an integral part of its Victorian architectural heritage.

"In the painting I depicted people walking past the iconic old Tele building, who are of all ages and races, to emphasise the fact that the Belfast Telegraph is a paper for all of the community," she said.

"For me as a local Belfast girl, it's a paper that myself and my family grew up with and for people of my generation I can see how the Telegraph has evolved down the years and become even more relevant."

Aly (37), who is also a fitness and wellbeing blogger, spent lockdown shielding at home with husband Michael and their three sons Elijah (11), Tobias (9) and Abraham (4).

Just over five years ago she was diagnosed with the heart condition cardiomyopathy, which claimed the life of her father John when she was just seven.

Like many in her field, she moved all of her work online, running live daily art demonstrations on her YouTube channel and sharing lots of tips for coping with the lockdown, recipes, guest posts and fitness guidance.

"At the start of the year I was gearing up for a project abroad and a number of commissions when suddenly coronavirus hit and everything stalled," she explained.

"At the start, as a self-employed person, I was really scared and thought this is where it will all end, but I had to either sink or swim.

"With my three kids off school and my husband working from home it was all a bit manic.

"So I just decided to create a lot of free online content to give value to people along with tutorial work such as live painting.

"I also interviewed various different business people over a month as part of a cross-collaboration to support those who in turn had supported me."

Covid-19 has played a role in influencing some of her work over recent months.

"Mainly I was painting very calm scenes of Irish landscapes including beaches.

"My line was that if I can't get to the beach I'll bring it to me.

"I think everyone else was missing not being able to go to the coast as well and that filtered through in the prints of my artwork that I was selling at the time.

"There was a real boom in seascapes from people who were clearly missing their holidays."

She added: "I've always been quite authentic but it felt like the lockdown gave me the opportunity to be even more myself - even with my boys coming in and interrupting my painting, which was annoying but also very normal.

"I was able to be the expert in my field as a Belfast artist and bring people together.

"I don't quite know what was the trigger point.

"But it certainly feels like my 11-year career waited for this horrible pandemic to happen and now I'm more focused and fruitful than ever."

See Aly's work and blog on her website at www.alyharte.com

Visit our anniversary hub where we celebrate 150 years of the Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph