Murals in Belfast

Hello and hi. Do you like murals? No? Then it is possible that we can’t be friends. Sorry (not Sorry ). Personally,  I happen to like murals-especially if they stop me dead in my tracks and subsequently cause me to look up in admiration with equal amounts of awe and wonder.

You see, normally in London Town when I getting from point A to point B-an awful lot is involved. I am usually rushing (as I am late or lost or both). Also, I am putting my hair in a clip (while being late and getting lost) or I am looking at my watch and subtracting 12. Yes. I have a digital 24 hour watch so I have to subtract 12 just to find out what the time is. Normally I would look to the sun’s position in the sky…but it is February in England. The sun is mostly absent. So, if you didn’t know already 14:00 is 2:00pm. Did you subtract the 12?

The belaboured point I am trying to make here-is that I am sometimes a busy, frenetic person (but I am nice!) and sometimes when/while all this is happening-I will see a mural on the side of an office building or a brick wall adjacent to a disused property and I will just stop.and.stare. and drink it all in. Yes, some murals are THAT powerful. Yes. Yes, they are.

Interestingly, you will find such murals in Belfast. Been to Belfast? I have not-I hope to go but it looks unlikely. As you may or may not know, Belfast is a city better known for its history-not artwork. But a new generation of artists are changing this concept and claiming public spaces as their own. Respect. For ages, the streets of Northern Ireland have been inundated with political murals highlighting and depicting the religious divisions of the region. But all that is changing now as a new wave of contemporary mainstream murals are popping up in areas of Belfast long neglected as well as the more up and coming areas in Belfast.

A large scale hyper-realistic portrait of a chef holding a lobster on a gable wall

A portrait in Belfast city centre by Australian-born artist ‘Smug One’

As reported in the BBC, the art in the city’s Cathedral Quarter has become so popular that local art curator, Adam Turkington now runs a tour around the area. Turkington added, “There’s over a 100 pieces of street art within a very short walking distance.” Oh gosh. How terribly cool. Turkington ended by saying “I grew up in the Troubles. If you have environments where walls are political then public art becomes accentuated and more important.”

Of course the tradition of street art as an active protest against political positions, events etc. are nothing new-just look at Berlin or Bethlehem. Turkington also commented, “We already had a tradition of murals and writing on walls here, which is more often than not associated with division. So to create a body of work that is counter narrative to that is really powerful…so much of the path to creating a shared cultural identity is creating visuals and architecture that everybody can take ownership of.” Indeed.


colourful painting of a pitbull

A graffiti piece in the city centre by artist, Verz


Many of the local artists who started out as amateur mural painters have now gained commercial contracts as Belfast’s businesses attempts to brighten up their premises- with their own commissioned stylised graffiti. Interesting collaboration and it means: recognition, respect and money, honey. Anyway, below, you will find their work. Enjoy.

Dean Kane-under his alias Visual Waste, specialises in pop culture designs, painting portraits of celebrities that have not become local tourist attractions. Have a look-see:

Portait of Heisenburg from Breaking Bad                                                                                                                                          Image: Visual Waste

a girl reaching up to a hashtage held by a portrait of kanye west                                                                                                                                          Image: Visual Waste

Eon McGinn (aka Emic) is from County Tyronne is a street artist and gave up working a normal job after losing two in a month. Yikes. I think we have all been there-or not. In any case, McGinn cottoned on pretty quickly a career as a street artist was the life for him. Respect.

A rough sketchy portrait of a woman on shutters                                                                                                                                                      Image: Emic

A mural of two hands on a coloured background                                                                                                                                                       Image: Emic

Next up is Mariah Noone, who is originally from County Sligo, Ireland. And while she originally studied animation, she never properly went into that industry. Noone, moved to Belfast 11 years ago and quickly found that she fell head over heels in love with spray painting. Noone says, “I paint, maybe subconsciously, powerful strong looking women.” Yass. Noone also added that she is inspired by nature and Celtic mythology.

A portrait of a mythical cartoon woman wearing a bear hat with animal features.                                                                                                                                     Image: Marian Noone

a side portrait of a mythical woman                                                                                                                                     Image: Marian Noone

So, while I have probably left out a few other equally as important and relevant street artists-I think you get the point. The point being: wow. Just, wow. Hope you enjoyed these murals. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get a chance to see them up close and personal if you find yourself in Belfast. That is all.



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