Belfast Telegraph

IRA bomb victim's disturbing self-portraits put on show

By Adrian Rutherford

A series of disturbing self-portraits by an IRA bomb victim will go on display next week - more than 30 years after his death.

The exhibition, Faces Caught in Time, is a posthumous snapshot of the life and work of Maurice Hobson.

Born in Caledon, Co Tyrone, in 1957, Mr Hobson was injured in a bomb blast in Dungannon in 1975 and passed away aged just 30 in 1987.

Writing in 1984 at the height of The Troubles, he spoke out about "people turning a blind eye to now over 20,000 victims of a situation that (is) no nearer a solution than it was in 1975".

It was this desire to see an end to the Troubles that led him to create the self-portraits.

Organisers of the exhibition, which runs through August, have said Mr Hobson's work is an uncomfortable reminder of the human casualties of ideological violence.

They warned that some viewers may find the images in the exhibition distressing.

One art expert said: "Hobson's self-portraits of a bomb victim are recreations of his own experience ... he recreates the psychic penetration of the event with a ruthless precision. It is not easy to look at such works.

"What the self-portraits force us to do is to confront man's inhumanity to man, head-on."

Mr Hobson was on his way to school when the bomb exploded.

Speaking shortly before his death, he described the impact of the blast on his artistic practice.

"On September 22, 1975, I was on my way to school. After leaving the school bus we were evacuated ... within 10 minutes I was fighting for my life after being critically injured in a massive bomb-blast," he recalled.

"Metal slashed through my face, broke my jaws, damaged my left eye, fractured my skull.

"After awakening from unconsciousness, two weeks later, I had to deal with completely new circumstances.

"This overshadowed and influenced my life ever since, as can be seen clearly in my self-portraits."

Faces Caught in Time: A posthumous snapshot of the life and work of Maurice Hobson, will be on show at Atypical Gallery at Royal Avenue in Belfast from August 3-31.

The exhibition is organised by the University of Atypical, a disabled-led arts charity.

The organisation specialises in developing and promoting the work of artists who are disabled and deaf and in reaching disabled and deaf audiences.

Its lead funders are the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.

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