People's Gallery Murals

People's Gallery Murals information

Derry/Londonderry , United Kingdom
Address
Street Rossville St
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Lonely Planet review

The 12 murals that decorate the gable ends of houses along Rossville St, near Free Derry Corner, are popularly referred to as the People's Gallery. They are the work of Tom Kelly, Will Kelly and Kevin Hasson, known as 'the Bogside Artists'. The three men have spent most of their lives in the Bogside, and lived through the worst of the Troubles.

Their murals, mostly painted between 1997 and 2001, commemorate key events in the Troubles, including the Battle of the Bogside, Bloody Sunday, Operation Motorman (the British Army's operation to retake IRA-controlled no-go areas in Derry and Belfast in July 1972) and the 1981 hunger strike. The most powerful images are those painted largely in monochrome, consciously evoking journalistic imagery – Operation Motorman, showing a British soldier breaking down a door with a sledgehammer; Bloody Sunday, with a group of men led by local priest Father Daly carrying the body of Jackie Duddy (the first fatality on that day); and The Petrol Bomber, a young boy wearing a gas mask and holding a petrol bomb.

The most moving image is The Death of Innocence, which shows the radiant figure of 14-year-old schoolgirl Annette McGavigan, killed in crossfire between the IRA and the British Army on 6 September 1971, the 100th victim of the Troubles. Representing all the children who died in the conflict, she stands against the brooding chaos of a bombed-out building, the roof beams forming a crucifix in the top right-hand corner. At the left, a downward-pointing rifle, broken in the middle, stands for the failure of violence, while the butterfly symbolises resurrection and the hope embodied in the peace process.

The final mural in the sequence, completed in 2004, is the Peace Mural, a swirling image of a dove (symbol of peace and of Derry's patron saint, Columba) rising out of the blood and sadness of the past towards the sunny yellow hope of a peaceful future.

The murals can be seen online at www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/bogsideartists, and in the book The People's Gallery, which is available from the artists' website.