Belfast street art

Belfast is home to more than 250 murals.  Most of them are political or historical in nature and concern the recent “Troubles” in Northern Ireland’s past.  But there are other murals in this city, and other street art.  This post features some of the apolitical murals that I saw late in September of 2016.

below: A large mural by Smug One on High Court Street  (One of his murals previously seen in Melbourne – Smug on Wood Street)

very marge mural of a man with moustache and small beard and wearing a chef's shirt is holding a large lobster

below: Keep Her Lit, keep the furnace in your heart burning, keep the fire alive.

a mural of an anatomical painting of a heart with the center being a furnace, steam puffs coming out of the vessels at the top, words at the top of the mural are Keep Her Lit

below:  These fingers are pointing at you in a mural by EMIC.  3D glasses are available in Sunflower, which is a store across the street.  It’s difficult to take a photo in 3D!

Mural of two hands with fingers pointing outwards, The mural is painted to look 3D if you have the right glasses on. Words at the top of the mural say 3D glasses available at Sunflower (which is store across the street)

below: This blue woman looms over one of the smaller streets in downtown Belfast.

very large mural of a woman's upper body and head, done is shades of blue, shoulder length hair, looking at the viewer

below: Fighting with swords while a dead (or injured) dog lies on the floor.   Surreal?

Grey tones, black and white, monochrome, painting of a fencing scene, indoors, in historical clothing, chandelier on the table, black man watching the fencing, dead dog on the floor

below: The vertical painting in browns is done by KVLR

two murals on a building, one is a very realistic painting of an old man and the other is a vertical painting in brown tones by KVLR

two murals on two sides of a corner. One is a realistic painting of an old man and the other is also a man's head but it is done in red, white and black shapes.

below: A mural by Kashink  who is an artist  from Paris.  She has painted in many cities around the world and some of her work can be seen in Montreal.

mural by Kashink of person with green face, four eyes and long bushy reddish orange hair. Words say and fun--damental rights. Person is smoking (green hands)

on the side of a two storey building, a large woman in profile, head and shoulders, in a multicoloured cloud, with her hands together in prayer, eyes open and looking slightly upwards

below: A colourful dog by Verz, a local artist.

mural on black wall of a dog's head and neck in oranges, red, and pinks,

below: A mural showing streets at night, lights and reflections, by Dan Kitchener

large mural of streets and car traffic at night with lights shining on wet streets, two white cars parked in front.

below: One of the hazards of taking pictures of street art is the usual presence of parked cars.  They get in the way.  A lot.  Sometimes you just have to make them part of the composition.

two red cars are parked against a wall on which a mural of a young woman's face is painted. white skin, black hair, grey eyes,

below: And then there are the times when the cars are just in the way and there’s no way around it.  This black bird was painted by Spanish artist Sabek.   It would be nice to think that the arrow is aimed right at the car roof and that it missed the bird.

mural by sabek of a black bird caught up in a white ribbon as it tries to fly

below: Continuing the bird and arrow theme is this mural titled “The son of Protagoras” by MTO (French born, now Berlin based).  The mural is located in the yard of Northern Ireland War Memorial.  Note the markings on the arrows.   Protagoras (about 490 – 420 BC) was a Greek philosopher; he was either an agnostic or an atheist.

mural of a red headed young man squatting and holding a dead bird in his hands. The bird has two arrows through it, with red ends on the arrows. The mural looks to be on top of a fence and there are cars parked in front of the fence

below: This snake and arrow mural was painted in 2015 as part of  the ‘Hit the North’ event when 30 murals were painted in Belfast.   Some of the other murals in this blog post were painted then.  If you watch this video on youtube you might recognize them!

a rusty red fence and a green hedge is in front of a mural of a large black and yellow snake wrapped loosely around a long red arrow.

below: A fantastical dragon creature in purple and orange walks along the pavement.

horizontal mural of a long purple and orange dragon

horizontal mural of a long purple and orange dragon

below: A cockatoo by Dan Leo sits high on a wall, brightening up the side of a building.

simple mural of a grey toned cockatoo with a pink patch on its face, on a turquise background

below: On the fence beneath the cockatoo is this mural.  It seems to be a deer hunt?  The woman and her dog are chasing the deer?  Or running with the deer?

a blue dog is on a leash held by a woman, pink deer silhouettes jumping in the forest in the background

below: A Faigy mural, The owl doll Millies

owl doll millies mural

below:  A wonderful portrait of a man by DREPH.  I saw a few slices of bread with feet… The signature on the side of the bread seems to say Artista.  The himbad signature on the left goes with the cat in the picture below
a street art painting of a slice of bread with green feet is above a street art painting by deph of a black man with a beard and a brown cap

below: Himbad cat, wide open mouth and many sharp teeth!

large cat face with sharp teeth, street art by himbad

a happy face stick figure person made with paint that has dripped from a piece of street art, on a sidewalk (pavement)

below: Now it’s Puinsai Hawaii at any time.

altered sign, now says puinsai Hawaii anytime. yellow sign on a post with barbed sire on either side. Also An 'I love you" sticker on the pole beneath the sign.

below: On the Restore Charity Shop, a woman by Emic.

mural by emic, head and face of a young woman looking to the right, in grey tones (black and white) on a bright red background.

storefronts on a streeet in Belfast, brick building, but metal awnings/screens covering the shops because they are closed. Young Savage vintage clothing and Arts Lab, both have street art paintings on the screens. One is a young woman with long blue hair that forms a circle around her.

below: ‘LOST’, a man with harp antlers and a pink nose, two lonely whiskers and a grille over his mouth.  My apologies for the fact that the quality of the photo is such that the smaller words are illegible.  I think that what is lost is dip-py but could be dup-py.

three posters on a black wall. One is a skull with a spring for a neck and two antenae coming out of the top, one is labeled 1 and the other is 2 . The other posters are the two the same, withthe word lost written above a man's head, with harps for ears and a small muzzle over the mouth, words in the bottom corner,

below: More pasteups.  A Citizen Nobody poster is surrounded by other pasteups in various states. “The will to consume terrorises you.”

a few paste ups in black and white. In the middle is a poster by citizen nobdy that is only words that read The will to consume terrorises you.

below: Ireland is not full of leprechauns.  There is one on this wall but I didn’t see too many others, real or otherwise!  There were no pots of gold either.   I saw a few nuns though including this one by David Creative.

two murals on a corner of a building. One one sideis a head and shoulders of a nun in a yellow habit with black head wear. On the other corner is a leprechaun and some sunflowers.

The front of a house, upper storeys, covered with a painting that looks a bit like an imaginative version of the stars at night. The universe and beyond.

a collection of street art pieces on the side of a greybuilding, painted in purple, yellow and turquoise mostly. Abstract shapes

below: Pull up a mattress and make yourself comfortable.

a mattress is rolled up and lying against a wall that has a mural on it.

below: A mural or an ad?


Free Derry murals, Bogside

Free Derry was a zone in the Bogside and Creggan neighbourhoods in the city of Derry (or Londonderry) that existed from 1969 to 1972 when people barricaded streets to keep the British Army out.   To understand the reasons for Free Derry involves understanding the history of Northern Ireland, especially the story of ‘The Troubles’.   The Troubles, or the Northern Ireland Conflict as it was also known, started in the late 1960’s and largely centered around the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.   Although it may be an oversimplification,  Unionists (also called Loyalists) who were mostly Protestant and thought themselves to be British wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the UK while Irish nationalists (or Republicans)  who were mostly Catholic and considered themselves Irish wanted to leave the UK and join a united Ireland.

Three artists, Tom Kelly, William Kelly and Kevin Hasson, aka The Bogside Artists, have created a series of murals known as the Peoples Gallery in the Bogside area of Derry.  There are 12  murals and most are on the sides of houses along Rossville Street.    They tell the story of events that occurred here during The Troubles.

below: “The Civil Rights Mural, The Beginning”. The title refers to the beginning of the struggle for democratic rights in Derry by both Protestants and Catholics. On the 5th of October 1968, a civil rights march ended in bloodshed in Duke Street when the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) beat up protesters – televised for the world to see.   Protesters responded with petrol bombs and bonfires. The march was organized with the support of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), a group that had been formed in February 1967 to fight to end discrimination against the Catholic/Nationalist minority.
Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972 - civil rights and anti-sectarian, pictures of people with placards who marched in a peaceful demonstration
below: “The Petrol Bomber”. This was the first mural, painted in 1994. A boy wears a gas mask to protect himself from RUC tear gas. He is holding a petrol (gasoline) bomb. It represents the ‘Battle of the Bogside’, August 1969.

Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972 - a man wears a gas mask

The problems in 1968 and then the riots in 1969 marked the beginning of the Troubles. At this time, the city of Derry became (or was?) more segregated with neighbourhoods almost entirely nationalist or unionist. In some places, residents and paramilitaries built barricades to seal off and protect their neighbourhoods from incursions by “the other side”, the security forces or both. These became known as “no go areas”. By the end of 1971, 29 barricades blocked access to Free Derry, 16 of them impassable even to British Army tanks.


below: Commemorating ‘Operation Motorman’. Also titled, “Summer Invasion”. On 31 July 1972 the British Army with the help of the RUC broke down the barriers that had been built in Derry, Belfast, and other Northern Ireland cities.

Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Operation Motorman in 1971- a British soldier breaking down a door in Derry

below: In the foreground, “The Runner”, a cautionary tale; civil conflict can be deadly. The boy in blue, running from tear gas, is Patrick Walsh. Below him are portraits of two other boys who died in the Troubles, Manus Deery and Charles Love. Deery was 15 when he died in 1972, hit by fragments of a ricochet bullet fired by a British Army sniper. Love was 16 when he died in 1990, hit by flying debris from an IRA (Irish Republican Army) bomb. The deaths of two boys, unintended victims of both sides in the conflict.
Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972 - two murals on the sides of two buildings, one is a soldier breaking down a door and the other is people marching in a demonstration but running away from tear gas

below: “The Death of Innocence”. A 14-year-old schoolgirl, Annette McGavigan, was killed in crossfire between the IRA and the British Army on 6 September 1971. She was the 100th victim of the Troubles. The mural was painted in 2000 but was being cleaned up and behind scaffolding when I saw it. According to the plaque beside it, “she stands against the brooding chaos of a bombed-out building, the roof beams forming a crucifix in the top right-hand corner. At the left, a downward-pointing rifle, broken in the middle, stands for the failure of violence, while the butterfly symbolizes resurrection and the hope embodied in the peace process.”


On 30 January 1972 there was a march to protest the mass arrest of 342 people suspected of being members of the IRA a few months previous, and their subsequent imprisonment without trial.  The marchers were unarmed.  The British Army opened fire on the people, killing 14 and wounding many others.  Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded.  Two people were run down by Army vehicles.

below: Father Daly, a priest, holds a white flag as he helps a group of men carry the body of Jackie Duddy.   Duddy was the first fatality on Bloody Sunday. This mural was painted in 1997 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972 - a priest with his head down carries a white flag as people carry an injured man

Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972


below: In the background is the Peace Mural, a white dove on a multicoloured background.

Free Derry mural in Bogside, Derry Northern Ireland, in shades of grey, commemorating Bloody Sunday in 1972 - man with back to viewer watches a tank. Second mural in the background of a white outline of a peace dove over a chequer board design in many different colours.

 There are a number of other murals in the area.

below: Che Guevara did have a small bit of Irish ancestry. One Patrick Lynch left Galway in the mid 1700’s. After a short stay in Spain he ended up in Argentina where he married an Argentinian woman. A number of generations later, Che Guevara, eldest son of Ernesto Guevara Lynch and Celia de la Serna y Llosa, was born in Rosario Argentina in 1928. He was the 5 x great grandson of Patrick. The quote in the mural, “In my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish Rebels” are apparently Che’s father’s words.


below: South Africa and Ireland, side by side.  A portrait of Nelson Mandela.  “Many suffer so that some day future generations will live in justice and peace”, a quote from Bobby Sands (also pictured in the mural).   Sands was a member of the Provisional IRA and a leader of the 1981 hunger strike in Maze Prison.  He was elected as a Member of Parliament but during the strike, but he died along with nine others.

mural with Nelson Mandela

below: “The way we were” and “free Gaza”.


a mural that says bogside, written in celtic text, with a dragon in the center, an older man on the left and a young boy on the right.

a frayed Irish flag flies on top of a post.  A sign that says Brits out now IRA is also on the post
More information on the Bogside Artists and the murals that I missed.