Derry Journal

Bogside Artists Are 'Ambassadors For Derry'

Tuesday 3rd August 2004

Derry Mayor Gerry O'hEara says the critically-acclaimed Bogside Artists have made a "massive" contribution to the city's tourism industry.

Mayor O'hEara was speaking as he unveiled the Artists' latest and final wall mural at Rossville Street.

The "peace mural" - designed by the Artists along with local schoolkids --differs from the group's previous works as it doesn't portray an actual historical event.

Instead, the mural shows a white dove, symbolising peace, and an oak leaf, symbolising Derry.

The Mayor believes the murals now rival the city's historic walls as a tourist attraction.

Nine other murals depicting important historical scenes already adorn a series of gable walls along Rossville Street.

Known as "The People's Gallery", they commemorate events such as the Battle of the Bogside, Bloody Sunday, Operation Motorman, and the 1981 hunger strikes.

In recent years the murals have become one of Derry's main tourist attractions with visitors from across the globe travelling to the city to be photographed alongside them.

Mayor O'hEara says the artists --Kevin Hasson, and brothers, Tom and Willie Kelly - have made a major contribution to life in Derry.

"The Bogside Artists have continually produced high quality art and more importantly, community art for the last 10 years," he says. "Their work is just one example of the many talented artists working in our city today.

"Their murals have become a living history museum that people can walk around and get right into where it all took place.

"Now that the open air gallery is complete, the City Council is taking steps to make it a permanent fixture in the city. The Council is going to spend some money and install lights at the murals and provide funding for the artists themselves to touch up the murals as they need it.

"We are also going to have them waterproofed to ensure that they will be around for a long time to come."

The murals, says the Mayor, are for everyone to enjoy.

"They're not just for the people of Derry but also the many tourists that come to the city every year to see them. The murals are now rivalling the Walls as the main tourist attraction in Derry and when they are lit up at night they will be even more popular," he said.

The Mayor says the Bogside Artists are an inspiration to many other talented artists working in Derry.

"People don't realise the high quality of art work produced in this city and the Bogside Artists are at the forefront of this. They have travelled extensively and exhibited all over Europe and in North America and Australia.

"When they travel around the world, they act as ambassadors, not just for Derry, but also for the tourism industry to which they contribute massively," he said.

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