Today, a major public art project in the Lower Shankill area of Belfast has been launched as part of Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week 2015.
The project, which has been delivered in partnership with the Lower Shankill Community Association and the Housing Executive, has seen five pieces of public art installed on designated sites within the area. The art pieces have been designed to create a lasting vision of good relations.
The Lower Shankill Community Association, which was set up to play a pivotal role in the physical, social and economic regeneration of the Shankill area, is leading out the project, supported by the Housing Executive.
The housing executive have said “We work to build better relations, cohesive communities and neighbourhoods that are safe and welcoming to all, all year round but Community Relations Week is an opportunity to celebrate that work and to celebrate diversity.”
This year’s celebrations are taking place across Northern Ireland and started earlier this week and will continue on, until 2nd October 2015.
Sharon Beattie, Housing Executive Area Manager for West Belfast, said: “This project is part of the Housing Executive’s social investment plan and forms part of a major reimaging process. We have provided funding for several further projects in this area and will continue to support the community in its desire to move forwards in this transformation, which reflects peace and reconciliation.”
Ian McLaughlin, Project Manager at the Lower Shankill Community Association, said:
“This project is a continuation of a process that began in the Lower Shankill area back in 2009. We use artwork as a valuable tool to reach out to people in our community and this work is another sign of the commitment of the Housing Executive to support the creation of cohesive communities who wish to reimage and move on from their past. This positive action will be ongoing in our area.”
William Humphrey MLA who officially performed the official launch of the new murals said: “Wall murals have been a long-standing feature of our community. I have no doubt that these new murals will be popular both with local residents and with visitors to the area. These inspirational murals are thought-provoking and highlight some of the views and concerns of the local community.
“I am delighted to have been asked to officially launch these new pieces of public art.”
Artist Lesley Cherry, Shankill Estate Artworks, said: “As an experienced socially engaged artist, I am a strong believer in using art as a catalyst for change, be that commenting on social issues, housing, employment or civil rights. The residents of the Shankill estate are also aware of how this approach can change attitudes not only within their own community, but to others who visit their community; how they are perceived and how they want to be perceived.
“They know the power of positive images and using art as a tool to make changes happen within their area. With this in mind, the community groups I worked with came up several quotes, ideas and imagery to portray positivity, but also though provoking images for this funded project.”