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What's Happening
Quaker Arts Network
Dear God...
“Hate leads to fights, Fights lead to war, War leads to beautiful world no more”
Kieran Hunt

Coventry Cathedral &
The Bogside Artists

Exhibition
Our Progress

Following from these events the conviction grew that the story around the murals of the Bogside Artists was a significant story that needed to be heard more widely, not only within but also outside Northern Ireland. There is still considerable ignorance about the Troubles outside Northern Ireland. Fed by the British media, most people still think of it in terms of a primitive tribal religious warfare, rather than as a legitimate struggle for civil rights by a marginalised group. Equally, many British ex-soldiers still suffer serious trauma after having returned from Northern Ireland. Many of them feel neglected and confused about their role in Northern Ireland at the time.

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The exhibition is meant to raise awareness of the still raw wounds suffered by many people in Northern Ireland and beyond, and to enable cross community conversation (including ex-British militaries) by means of art and storytelling. Some of this conversation already began when the exhibition was shown at Greenbelt in the summer of 2015. During a panel discussion accompanying the exhibition at Greenbelt Festival one ex-paratrooper spoke very movingly about his time as a confused, young 19-year old being sent to Derry during the Troubles. Seeing the images of the murals had triggered many traumatic memories and meeting the Bogside Artists personally had provided an occasion for much longed for healing and reconciliation of a past he had never been able to talk about openly.

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When the exhibition was shown at St. Clement’s Church in London, which is the home of Amos Trust, a human rights organisation working in many different countries, the exhinbition featured centrally in their annual day conference, with representatives from Palestine and Burundi. Several people responded that the images might as well have been painted in Palestine or elsewhere, confirming the universality of the murals.  
It is this universality that has led to an invitation by Coventry Cathedral to show the exhibition there in the Spring of 2017.

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The fact that an Anglican cathedral hosts this exhibition is itself a significant symbolic act. There will be a program around the exhibition involving local schools and, hopefully, ex-service men. In order to give people as much information as possible, the exhibition will be accompanied by a 60-page catalogue written by Adrienne Chaplin with an introduction by Sarah Hill.  The design and printing of the catalogue is being funded by the Westhill Trust. An important feature of the book is the inclusion of a series of historic black and white photographs taken by local people, including photos of day-to-day life with British soldiers in the streets. These images provide a necessary counterpoint to the standard images of Northern Ireland that were distributed through the British media.

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With the majority of these showing clashes with the police and rioting youth, these enforced the impression of Northern Ireland as a dangerous and violent place, thus legitimising British occupation. The catalogue/book is meant to initiate conversation and   educate a younger generation about its country’s often overlooked and forgotten recent past.