Master of Arts in Art History (M.A.)
Type of Paper/Work
Heather M. Shirey
For nearly thirty years the streets of Derry, Northern Ireland were the locus of political
unrest and resistance to legacies of British colonial oppression. This era of turmoil,
known as the Troubles, resulted in the development of muralism and graffiti as
cultural forms of expression symbolically linked to the conflict of this area. The
marginalized Catholic communities have utilized these artforms to reclaim spaces of
collective trauma and create visual narratives that challenge notions of criminality in
the historical accounts disseminated by dominant authorities regarding the civil rights
movement. The trauma relating to false narratives and sectarian violence is apparent in the murals of the People’s Gallery in Derry, and this paper examines the collection of twelve murals as artforms that express cultural memory. The public illustrations of
activists, victims of sectarian violence, social resistance, and lost innocence recreate
the experiences of a people caught in the crossfire between militarized combatants and political inequities. These topics present a significant dimension of street art which are visual narratives, particularly those of collective trauma, that both challenge the
historic accounts presented by the dominant authorities in Northern Ireland and
articulate the process of healing.
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McIntosh, Molly, "Street Art as Historical Narratives: Cultural Memory and Colonial Trauma in the Murals of Derry, Northern Ireland" (2021). Art History Master's Qualifying Papers. 48.