Belfast Telegraph

Troubles on canvas: art from 30 years of the conflict to go on cross-border tour

The Security Barrier by Rita Duffy
The Security Barrier by Rita Duffy
Funeral of a Victim by Gladys Maccabe
Rendezvous with Rainbow by Joseph McWilliams
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A major showcase of work featuring artists' responses to the Troubles hopes to attract record visitor numbers as it embarks on a 12-month cross-border tour.

The Troubles Art exhibition has paintings, drawings and photographs from renowned names such as Jack Pakenham, Rita Duffy and Joseph McWilliams, with some pieces going on display for the first time.

Drawn from the National Museums NI's art collection, it explores a broad range of themes universal to conflict, such as suffering and loss; violence and destruction; imprisonment; sectarianism; traditions, territory and life in the midst of turmoil.

Among National Museums NI's recent acquisitions is acclaimed Magnum photographer Donovan Wylie's record of the physical structure of the Maze Prison over a six-year period during its closure and demolition.

Other newly acquired pieces include Gladys Maccabe's Funeral of a Victim, 1969, while visitors can also view works from McWilliams (Rendezvous with Rainbow, 1976) and Victor Sloan (Holding the Ring, Portadown).

Anna Liesching, curator from National Museums NI, encouraged as many people as possible to visit the acclaimed exhibition's four host venues in Lisburn, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Armagh.

"We now have the largest collection of fine art associated with the Troubles in the world and we really want to get that collection seen," she said.

"It's not about trying to give an historical comprehensive account of all that happened during the Troubles, it's about representing what artists created themselves; their own particular reactions and perspectives to the conflict.

"It's also about raising awareness and understanding of that artistic response in order to ignite conversations amongst people."

Ms Liesching added "Some pieces are about specific incidents but a lot of it is about day to day life and the community and people find it very evocative to be able to see these interpretations of their own experiences presented to them in such a way that has definitely helped them address their own past and to be able to communicate that with others.

"This is the public art collection, the public own this, so it's a chance to see your own public art collection in your own home town."

The exhibition is part of a new cross-border programme, Making the Future, funded through the PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Troubles Art will run in the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum until Saturday, June 29.

It will then tour to Fermanagh County Museum (July to December 2019), The Market House, Venue and Gallery, Monaghan (January to February 2020), and Armagh County Museum (February to May 2020). Admission is free.

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