Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 08:46 UK

Art to transform Belfast 'scar'


Mark Simpson looks at the murals that have transformed the wall

Work to transform a peace wall that divides west Belfast is to be unveiled later on Wednesday.

The art works, which cover 180ft of the peace line in Cupar Way, are part of the Greater Shankill Partnership's 'If Walls Could Talk' project.

"The objective is to take a scar on the landscape and turn it into an outdoor gallery of world-class art pieces," said project co-ordinator Roz Small.

The art chronicles the Shankill's culture and unionist history.

Teams of artists worked over a number of months painting the murals on the loyalist Shankill Road side of the division.

They worked with a wide range of local people, from children to pensioners, to produce the works which depict scenes from Northern Ireland's troubled past.

Images painted on the wall include images of traditional brick houses, community life and figures from history, including Lord Carson, who led resistance to Irish Home Rule, and the original Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

'Positive expression'

Testimonials to those who died at the Somme during World War I and pictures of Orangemen are also shown as well as scenes from Baghdad's conflict-blighted Sadr City and Haifa in Israel.
Ms Small said she hoped this would be the first stage of a programme to transform the entire wall, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Some of the art works
It is hoped to transform the entire peace wall

"This is about giving the Shankill people the opportunity to tell the history to the world if they want to listen to it," she said.

"It is about taking what has been quite a negative energy and transforming that into a positive expression of the Shankill people and community and history."

"The future vision of this (project) would be to chronicle incidents and event through the period of the Shankill history," Ms Small added.

More than 40 so-called peace walls have been erected in sectarian flashpoint areas in Belfast, Londonderry and other parts of Northern Ireland.

The Shankill Road is one of the most deprived parts of Northern Ireland, with diminished education and job prospects.

Its boundary with the nationalist Falls Road was the scene of regular violence during the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland.

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