Belfast Telegraph

Thomas Devlin's family finds new hope as sculpture in memory of murdered son goes on show at MAC

By Victoria O'Hara

The mother of teenager Thomas Devlin, who was stabbed to death in north Belfast, has spoken of her hopes that a piece of artwork created in memory of her son will be a “positive inspiration” for other young people.

The stunning sculpture entitled The Permanent Present, consists of 400 colourful metal lines that dominate the main foyer of the new £18m MAC theatre.

The installation — described as a “rainbow inside a rainbow” — will be permanently housed at the new theatre in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast and is dedicated to the 15-year-old schoolboy.

Created by Irish artist Mark Garry, the installation was officially launched last night.

The breathtaking piece took around 11 months to create and was one of the objectives of the Thomas Devlin Fund set up by his parents Penny Holloway and Jim Devlin after his murder in 2005.

Thomas was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack about 200 metres from his home on his way back from buying sweets with friends on August 10, 2005.

After six years of planning his mother Penny Holloway said it was “emotional” seeing it for the first time.

“It was (emotional) actually, I think it is a really peaceful, beautiful piece of work and sums up exactly what we wanted to say — that there is hope.”

Penny said she hopes the piece will also raise awareness. “I hope that it will make people think of just the sheer senselessness of Thomas’ life being taken away from him in the way that it was.

“But I hope it will also say to people that despite that you must be positive and for our young people especially — they need an environment which is free of violence so they can achieve what they want to achieve.”

Mr Garry has also collaborated with composer Sean Carpio, pianist Fabien Leseure and singer Nina Hynes to create a new piece of music specifically for the commission which will be performed live at the MAC during the launch.

“I’ve had a really positive reaction to it and I’m really pleased on every level,” he said.

Penny added that focusing on the work of the Fund and the project had helped her family to deal with the grief of losing Thomas.

“Yes, it does give very positive things to us.”

And she believes Thomas would have enjoyed the artwork.

“I think he would have really loved it. I think he would have thought the MAC was a great place. And I hope that young people will gravitate to it. I’m sure it will be a really good place for young people to go.”

Background

Thomas Devlin was murdered in an unprovoked attack about 200 metres from his home as he was on his way back from buying sweets with his friends on August 10, 2005. He was about to go into his GCSE year at his school, Belfast Royal Academy when he was killed.

In 2010, two men Nigel Brown (26), of Whitewell Road, and Gary Taylor (23), from Mountcollyer Avenue, were convicted of his murder. The family set up a trust fund in Thomas’ memory and said they wanted his death to be a “catalyst for young people to appreciate the futility of gratuitous violence against young people”.

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