Belfast is famed for its political murals and propaganda relating to the Northern Ireland conflict but it’s also a great place to check out street art and graffiti, as Matt Fox-Tucker of Buenos Aires Street Art discovered.
One of the most eye-catching murals in Belfast is one entitled ‘The Lobster Pot’ painted by Australian street artist Smug. It can be found on the corner of High Street Court and was painted as part of the Hit the North Street Art Festival in 2016.
Perhaps the most iconic murals in Belfast city centre is ‘The Duel of Belfast, Dance by Candlelight’ by Irish street artist Conor Harrington. It depicts two men duelling with swords standing over the carcass of a dead dog, while another person sits watching. Perhaps a metaphor for Belfast’s troubled history. Harrington says his work relates less to Britain and more to the Colonial West. Painted during the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May 2012, but despite its age the mural still looks stunning.
Another impressive mural overlooks a car park painted by French street artist MTO. It’s entitled ‘The Son of Protagoras’ named after the agnostic Greek philosopher that features a red-haired boy holding a dove that has been pierced by two red arrows – one has the symbol of the Protestant Church and the other represents the Catholic Church.
This mural by U.S. artist Christina Angelina on Donegall Street opposite the iconic Kremlin gay bar is also striking. It was painted in 2015 as part of the Hit the North Festival.
This mural entitled ‘Still Waters’ by Nomad Clan relate to Belfast’s ship building heritage, its linen and its rope industry. It was also painted as part of the Hit the North Street Art Festival in 2016. The wolf relates to the wildlife in the local countryside and the artwork also features a gay woman relating to Belfast being a city that banned gay marriage & struggles with women’s rights.
Local heroes also feature on the walls of the Belfast. Glenn Molloy has painted a series of portraits of Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson, famous for the ‘Taken’ series and roles in films such as ‘The Mission’ who was born in Ballymena; together with former world champion boxer Carl Frampton and singer-songwriter Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy.
Colourful mural by Eoin McGinn from County Tyrone on shutters in the Cathedral District. McGinn likes to mix photo realism and abstraction in his work.
We also came across local artist Kev Largey (KVLR) painting a new mural along Gresham Street that relates to the history of the area and old market. Was great to meet him.
A number of murals can be found on Kent Street close to The Sunflower pub on the corner of Union Street. A number of them were painted at different editions of the Hit the North Street Art Festival including this impressive portrait by Aches in 2017.
French street artist Kashink painted this mural on Union Street relating to women’s rights with the phrase from the Cyndi Lauper track “Girls just wanna have fun… and fun…damental rights”.
Much of the best street art in Belfast can be found in the Cathedral Quarter and many of these artworks were painted as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in 2012 and during different editions of the Hit the North Street Art Festival that has been running since 2013 curated by Adam Turkington of Seedhead Arts. Many of the artworks were sponsored by Belfast City Council’s Community Festivals Fund, Department for Communities, Arts and Business NI. Seedhead Arts also runs street art tours every Sunday at 12pm.
Peace Wall Belfast
The peace wall along Cupar Way is a good spot to see modern graffiti pieces. Unfortunately some of these cool pieces don’t last long as it’s a popular spot for the black cab tours where tourists and visitors get out and scrawl messages on top of some of the burners and wild style graffiti.
Graffiti style lettering referring to the classic punk track ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones in East Belfast. The artwork first appeared in 2004 to mark the death of BBC radio host John Peel, who championed the Undertones. It was removed in 2013 when work began to regenerate the area. The replacement mural does not include the name of BBC DJ John Peel, who discovered the bad, which formed part of the original artwork.
Belfast is of course famous for its political propaganda and Loyalist and Republican murals relating to the Northern Ireland conflict. To see a separate blog post about this topic click here.
All photos © Buenos Aires Street Art