Belfast Murals: A Canvas for Peace

All murals were painted by artists in Belfast and the Bogside, Derry.

A wall is a simple structure. It doesn’t need to support anything more substantial and weighty than itself. A wall has a shallow foundation in the ground, and it’s purpose is always to create a division of space for practical purposes or esthetic reasons. Architecturally speaking, a wall is basic and easily built. It is an easy answer to design the flow of people between two points. The reason why a wall is built, however, can be a lot more complicated. Seeing the “Peace Wall” today in West Belfast made me realize just how powerful of a statement a wall can articulate, whether it’s from the murals and graffiti it contains, or its mere existence to begin with.
I love when art has the power to make me feel so deeply, even if it’s sentiments of alarm and disturbance. I was able to relate to the issues in Northern Ireland through a platform that I am familiar with, and this helped me to better understand how severe the problems still are. Art is incredibly influential in communities like West Belfast, where the public is so divided. The murals I saw today made me realize that art is a wonderful, powerful tool for healing as well as for propaganda. Adopting symbols like a red hand, swastika, cross, crown, or harp is another way of putting a stamp on your work to clearly mark what side of the conflict you’re on.
If there’s one thing that I can take away from the Belfast mural tour, it is that I am incredibly thankful that paintbrushes are being wielded rather than weapons. In a way, art is a creative and peaceful weapon that if used successfully, can make someone stop and question their own morals and perspective.
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