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Art lover? June 21, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Newton Emerson is hugely exercised by the murals in Belfast. For him they are of little artistic value and worse…

Today, they [murals in Belfast] are at best tawdry reminders of petty hatreds and at worst a way of intimidating nearby residents. It is humiliating to be in an ordinary neighbourhood when a tour bus goes past, its occupants clearly regarding you as an anthropological exhibit. It is revealing to join a tour – an experience I would recommend to anyone in Belfast who thinks murals are a cultural treasure. Tourists quickly become glum, then bored. Seen one gunman on the side of a house, seen them all.

I don’t know. As it happens I’ve supervised theses on the murals and there’s a small library of books about this very topic. They’re certainly viewed as having a significance that goes beyond their variable artistic merits (which is to say some are good, some are not). Without question some are poorly done, but this is very very broadbrush by Emerson.

As to the humiliations of being in an ordinary neighbourhood when a tour bus goes by, that seems a bit overdone. I regularly follow the path of the Viking Splash tourbus on my way home (btw, anyone ever taken that trip, is it any good?) from work on my bicycle. That too goes through some partly residential areas – and is that humiliating for those there? Could just be me, but it seems a little middle class, as does the entirely piece, in its complaints.

As to Emerson’s ‘solution’…

This is a feature of life in Northern Ireland we should be actively consigning to the past. To the extent murals are of local historical interest, a sample should be transferred to a museum. The Ulster Folk Museum 10 miles outside Belfast missed a trick by not relocating a traditional unionist “King Billy” mural when a few still survived. But it is not too late to begin moving current examples and directing the tourist buses out there.
Every other paramilitary mural should painted over and any recurrence should be treated for what it has always been in law – criminal damage. It is absurd, verging on corrupt, that businesses cannot put up unauthorised advertisements without being pounced on and fined, yet proscribed organisations can glorify terrorism on public and private property while officialdom stares at its shoes.

In a society where flag protests tie up resources and personnel for weeks I’d doubt the PSNI would be keen to have to try to police this area.


1. EWI - June 21, 2019

Art has always consisted of diamonds amidst the rough. Having said that, one community has at least displayed some sophistication and thought in its murals, and it’s of course the one being lambasted for same here. If Newton really wants to locate ‘humourless’ edifices ‘without artistic merit’, he should try re-reading one of his own back catalogue of Premium Content articles at the IT.

His job description appears to solely consist of finding mud to throw at the nationalist community in the North week in, week out while steadfastly ignoring unionism. Nice work if you can get it?

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 21, 2019

Well it sure feels like trolling – doesn’t it? A good letter in the IT about it today.


oliverbohs - June 21, 2019

If he’s the best example the IT can find of moderate Unionism putting on a thinking cap the brain drain up there must be worse than prev indicated. He got that gig with the paper of record due to some satirical blog he had going didn’t he? Maybe his earlier funny stuff was better 🙄
Murals are the least of it up there. And who’s he to judge? Is he really going to rock up to whichever community leader to tut-tut at the Top Gun McKeag tribute nearby? If he does, can someone film it on their phone?


WorldbyStorm - June 21, 2019

🙂 That some would pay good money to see. I really dislike his ‘it’s rubbish, not art’ line anyway. Some of it is pretty sophisticated.


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