Beyond Beliefs: Examining the future visual dialect of communities in Northern Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The conflict in Northern Ireland, ‘The Troubles’, headlined news reports and dominated international television screens from 1968. Political wall murals painted on the gable-ends of houses served as the backdrop for many newscasters reports, illustrating directly to the viewing public the paramilitaries message. The murals were produced in reaction to changing political events, playing an active role in the political ‘education’ of the local community and the struggle for that community’s unconditional support. As such they may be considered works of instruction as opposed to decoration and were/are considered important tools of propaganda by the factions whose ideology they depict. As Northern Ireland enters a ‘post-conflict’ era, the use of murals by paramilitaries and the role of those paramilitary organisations, as understood previously has altered. The visual language within a community’s present and history is of vital significance and consideration when addressing the future dialect of that community if it is to express itself effectively and positively in the future.The Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ‘Re-Imaging Communities Programme’ aims to provide funding to local communities “to focus on positive ways to express who they are . . to replace paramilitary murals and emblems with positive images and to develop . . public art which celebrates life and helps people feel part of the community in which they live”. This paper will present artist led research undertaken as part of this programme and conclude that the effective promotion of social capital can only be realized through sustained, relevant and meaningful engagement and focus on a shared future within communities and their role within the wider society of Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009
EventInternational Conference on the Arts in Society - Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice, Italy
Duration: 1 Jan 2009 → …


ConferenceInternational Conference on the Arts in Society
Period1/01/09 → …


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