Date: 17 Apr 2023Two murals, covering three storeys of the City East building at the gateway to East Belfast, on Newtownards Road, are to be created by cross-community groups with direction from local artist Dee Craig.
The project — Connecting Communities Through Art — is the brainchild of East Belfast Enterprise, a charity and social enterprise focused on bringing advantage to disadvantaged communities by encouraging entrepreneurship, and Belfast Mural Arts, bringing together numerous demographics from the area including people from the two main traditions and new immigrants in the community, to depict the diversity of living in the east of the city.
Using a US mural method known as The Parachute Cloth Technique, the concept will include artwork of cross-community groups in the Ballymacarrett and Short Strand areas specifically incorporating design ideas from the wider diverse east Belfast community, including school children, people living with disabilities, the elderly and ethnic minority groups.
The mural design has been developed during a series of more than 30 workshops in which the groups discussed themes to reflect the lives of those living in East Belfast.
Their designs also pay homage to the east’s strong industrial heritage as well as its future potential. Created by painting directly onto parachute cloth, the artwork will then be installed on two sides of City East building, and Belfast Mural Arts are the only artists in Europe that specialise in the parachute technique, allowing the entire mural project to be participant friendly so that local people can actively engage in painting sessions.
Belfast Mural Arts will install the artwork in a jigsaw-like technique using super strength glue that will give it a lifespan of up to 25 years before it will require maintenance.
Speaking about the mural project, Jonathan McAlpin, Chief Executive of East Belfast Enterprise, which owns the City East building, said:
"We are proud to have developed this project which will create a piece of art that tells the true story of modern-day East Belfast, its business heritage, diverse culture and future potential.
“This project is called Connecting Communities Through Art and that’s exactly what this mural project is doing. It is an artistic reflection of the East Belfast community made while building relationships and challenging negative perceptions that lead to division and associated anti-social behaviour in this part of the city.
“Our objective is to celebrate the successes of East Belfast recognising the historic economic achievements from this area while looking to a future that can tap into the latent innovation, talent and entrepreneurship that rests within this community.
"We believe the two murals will create a positive legacy that is designed and owned by the community and will provide a permanent visual presentation of their vision of East Belfast.
"Where there is inclusivity and cohesiveness, there are also productive outcomes and art is a powerful medium to bring people together.”
The murals will be installed this summer and have been made possible by funding from Apex Housing, Belfast City Council, Clanmil Housing, Connswater, George Best Belfast City Airport, NI Community Relations Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Radius Housing.
Follow the journey of the Connecting Communities Through Art project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thefoundrybelfast; Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/eastbelfastandfoundry; LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/east-belfast-enterprise-agency and Twitter at https://twitter.com/teamfoundry