Spring 2019 saw National Museums NI’s Troubles Art programme spread to mid-Ulster, where the rural landscape shaped a unique schedule of events and creative outputs.
Having visited the programme’s centrepiece Troubles Art exhibition at the Nerve Visual gallery, the group of some 20 participants, mostly local women, attended a talk by the leading artist, John Keane, whose acclaimed painting, The Other Cheek?, featured in the exhibition.
The group also visited the Ulster Museum to see the ‘Troubles & Beyond’ modern history gallery, and several local heritage sites. At Bellaghy they were treated to a tour of important places associated with Seamus Heaney – ‘The Turf Man’ statue, Toner’s Bog, Lough Beg and the poet’s grave – as well as a visit to the Heaney HomePlace.
Taking inspiration from these experiences, the group set about making their own artworks as a response.
They painted their own pieces on canvass to reflect what they saw and experienced during the course of the programme, and during the turbulent times of the Troubles.
In the final session, at Ranfurly House, Dungannon, members collaborated in wet-felting to create an artwork entitled ‘Kinship’, which depicted a shared rural landscape moving from darkness into light.
The landscape was perceived as a unifying factor, a silent witness to the atrocities that unfolded in its midst. Each participant, however they identified themselves, felt an affinity to this shared landscape in its different forms. They wanted to honour that close relationship as well as the affinity, feelings of connection and kinship that had formed as a group.
Programmes linked to Troubles Art are continuing as the exhibition moves to Enniskillen. For more information and how you can get involved, contact Donal or Niamh below.