A local and international perspective on Free Derry Corner

Posted on: 9th August 2011

The Playhouse's What If? and ICAN International Culture Arts Network projects are currently delivering an Urban Arts programme at venues throughout Derry and Donegal including Free Derry Wall.

Four international artists are collaborating with local artists to devise and deliver community mural projects with young people from interface communities of Derry-Londonderry and Donegal.

The four international artists are Los Angeles artist and educator Pablo Cristi, whose Chilean parents escaped the Pinochet regime. Cristi's work is motivated by an active political awareness.

Indian American graffiti artist Sidd Joag works for Free Dimensional, an organisation that provides support serviced for artists facing persecution as a result of their creative process. He has also worked as an NGO in Southwestern China focused on ethnic minority cultural preservation.

Man One, first generation American, began his artistic journey on the streets of Los Angeles, and has transformed his illegal use of graffiti into a successful profession as an acclaimed international artist.

Philadelphia based Belize artist Ernel Martinez helps transform Philadelphia edifices with murals that celebrate the human experience and affirm greatness. His creative choices reflect his Caribbean heritage.

Also participating on the project are local artists Karl Porter, Connor McDermott, Ray Bonner and Sean Cavan.

The local and international artists were invited to depict their idea of freedom and civil rights on the iconic Free Derry Corner, in conjunction with the Gasyard Feile for a two-week period.

The four international Graffiti and Mural artists, who have all fought in different ways for their own human rights in their respective countries, have worked together with local artists to bring their ideas and skills to this historic wall.

The wall has been used as part of the Feile Festival and other such events many times, always returning to its original, iconic state.

"It's apt that we have an exchange of knowledge between local and international artists, especially as the artists are based in USA, where the roots of the local civil rights campaign began. Inspiration for the symbolic words on the wall was gathered from "You are now entering Free Berkeley" in California." Elaine Forde, ICAN Coordinator, said.

The theme of the newly painted wall is nebula, the Latin for ‘cloud' which contextualizes the Free Derry wall and the decades long struggle for civil rights it represents in terms of universality, interconnectedness and re-creation. The intention behind adding this imagery and color to the wall is to encourage the young people of Derry to reimagine their history and present in broader, less limited terms; to take ownership over their public space; and to be the architects of a constructive future empowered rather than debilitated by the legacy of conflict and reconciliation.
As part of this project the international artists will encourage the young emerging local artists to use their talent positively to enhance social change at community level. The local and international teams will over the next two weeks work in four local communities, the Bogside and Brandywell, Irish Street, the City Centre and Moville county Donegal. They will teach local youth to use their creativity for community good through the medium of graffiti / mural art. Each community group will create a mural in their own area, with the project ending with a tour of every group's work.


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