"In January 1969 a local activist, John "Caker" Casey, painted a sign on a gable wall stating: "You are now entering Free Derry". When the British Home Secretary, Jim Callaghan, visited Derry in August 1969, the "Free Derry" wall was painted white and the "You are now entering Free Derry" sign was professionally re-painted in black lettering. The houses on Lecky road and Fahan Street were subsequently demolished, but the wall was retained. It has been repainted at frequent intervals." -Wikipedia (more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Derry_Corner)
We were honored to be given a unique opportunity to re-paint and re-interpret our idea of freedom and civil rights on the surface of one of the most iconic landmarks in North Ireland: The Free Derry Wall. This wall is an international symbol in the fight for civil rights. We were given some boundaries for example we had to retain the slogan "You are now entering Free Derry", although we could alter the font if we so desired but it will only be up for about 2 weeks.
After getting daily doses of education about the local politics since we've arrived, we thought of a concept to shake things up a bit and force people to view the world differently through the power of art. Most murals in Derry are painted with political significance first and foremost. The aesthetic and artistic value of murals seem to be secondary and sometimes not even significant. We decided to flip that idea about murals for them. Although this wall had been temporarily painted before, the context of the wall has never really been altered. We decided to create a piece of art that would elevate this local monument and give it universal appeal and to help broaden its important message.
Below are pics of what we did. The mural pissed off a bunch of older headstrong folk, including some older local artists who called us "VANDALS!". I guess they felt threatened by our approach and skills with the can or just upset that we were intruding on their monopoly of the area. I guess its not really as "FREE" a corner as they claim. At the same time it was well received by the younger generations of artists and citizens. We were able to modernize and re-contextualize a static wall into a "step in the right direction" (per national tv news station BBC).
Here's our statement:
"The theme of the newly painted wall is NEBULA, the Latin for ‘cloud’ which contextualizes the Free Derry wall and the decades long struggle for civil rights it represents in terms of universality, interconnectedness and re-creation. The intention behind adding this imagery and color to the wall is to encourage the young people of Derry to reimagine their history and present in broader, less limited terms; to take ownership over their public space; and to be the architects of a constructive future empowered rather than debilitated by the legacy of conflict and reconciliation."
American and International artists:
Man One (LA)
Pablo Cristi (SF/Bay Area)
Ernel Martinez (Philly)Sidd Joag (NY)
Sean, Ray, Conner and Karl
Sean, Ray, Conner and Karl
*Btw people in town and this part of the world haven't stopped talking about it since we completed it.
More pics of the process and the mural on my Flickr