Belfast Telegraph

Mural painter Stewart's exhibition pays tribute to history of Belfast shipyard

Exhibition pays tribute to history of the shipyard

By Claire McNeilly

He's the king of the murals, but now John Stewart is to get his own exhibition - and he's giving the Belfast Telegraph an exclusive sneak preview of what's on offer.

This time the artist behind some of the city's best-known wall art, including paintings in east Belfast of Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley and the Titanic, can show off a side of his work that you won't see on any gable.

Memories of Harland & Wolff: Cranes and Caps, currently on show at Bloomfield Auctions, is the title for some 60 pieces from John.

The exhibition focuses on his fascination with the Belfast shipyard and, in particular, the famous skyline-dominating cranes.

"I'm bringing memories back of how things were in the 1970s and 1980s using a colourful and contemporary style for modern art lovers," he said.

"Most of the 60 works that will be on display show the famous cranes painted from a variety of angles, because you can see them no matter where you are in the city.

"The paintings also depict workers and children on the old streets of Belfast.

"I've been working on this exhibition for the past 12 months and I hope it will bring back some fond memories at the very least. It's a wee bit of history for the people of east Belfast especially."

John (42) has carved his name in Belfast through his vast body of mural work around the city.

Most recently, a new mural marking Northern Ireland's achievement in reaching the Euro 2016 finals was unveiled in June, featuring defender McAuley rising from the steel girders of the Eiffel Tower brandishing a French flag.

The mural replaced an earlier artwork featuring David Healy - hero of Northern Ireland's 2005 victory over England - and shares its uplifting motto of 'Pride, passion and belief'.

The Healy mural had fallen into a state of disrepair in the 11 years since it was painted by the east Belfast native, with layers flaking from the bricks.

He also restored the much-loved Titanic mural located on the corner of Newtownards Road and Dee Street to its former glory in October last year.

Admirers of the black and white Titanic wall painting - a popular stop-off point on the city's bus and taxi tours - had complained that his original creation had become tatty, weathered and dilapidated.

The mural, which appeared in 2003, commemorates the world-famous liner that sank after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage to New York in 1912, as well as the Harland & Wolff shipyard workers who built it.

Away from the street corners, John's more traditional artwork is well-known on the auction circuits of Belfast and Dublin and this sale will be his first in four years.

"My paintings usually sell for between £200 and £300 but people are welcome to come along and have a look at them even if they don't want to buy anything," he said.

The artwork can be viewed today and tomorrow ahead of the sale at Bloomfield Auctions on Beersbridge Road at 6.30pm tomorrow.

Bloomfield Auctions said it was delighted to be hosting the local man's work.

"John has been a well-known artist for some time with his work selling right across the province and further afield," a spokesman for the auction house said. "There are all sorts of sizes to suit all budgets. Call in to one of our viewing days to have a look."

Belfast Telegraph


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