IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK!   Mural Painting in Belfast

IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK! Mural Painting in Belfast

A tiger head, a masked face, a teardrop oozing from a woman's eye, a jackboot draped with an Orange sash, honor guards and Eire personified, graffiti figures flash across the screen and fade to a deserted street in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Across Northern Ireland, the walls in working class communities are studded with such murals.

In the 1970s, nationalist/republican painters revived the local tradition – first documented in 1909 – to illustrate political issues. Eventually, they began to address community concerns and educate residents about Irish history and culture. Young loyalist/unionist painters flaunt their images of hooded gunmen and the Protestant conquest, laying claim to the both ancient hero Cúchulainn and St. Patrick. 

Finally, home-grown aerosol artists began working with youth from both sides of the religious divide to create images that break barriers: "The kids all have the same hopes and wishes and dreams. All they want to do is smoke pot and drive fast cars!"

The soundtrack by local artists includes Belfast hip-hop and rap, and the "Ulster Scots" and Irish traditions.