So finally we have opened our new studio. Below is a photo of our old studio. It used to be situated behind The Bogside Inn, a famous landmark in Derry. It was difficult to get to and on the odd occasion when tourists were actually directed to it you could tell they were none too happy to call in. One woman memorably thought it was a tattoo parlor. We were so skint at the time that we cursed ourselves for not having learnt the trade. The rent was cheap enough though. and despite very little help from the local funding bodies and overt antipathy from some those involved in the tourist trade we still managed to stay afloat. Then, one bleak morning, we were informed that the area was due for demolition and it seemed to us as if the heavens had closed upon us.
Undaunted, as they say, we found ourselves new and better premises that form indeed the gateway to the Bogside. This area just at the foot of Rossville Street where it joins William Street used to be called “Agro Corner” by the British soldiers who used to mill around there like chicks around an old boot, lost and bewildered, but relieved to have something to lean up against. Kids would soon be throwing stones at them and retaliations would inevitably ensue, often leading to full-blown rioting that would last right into the wee hours of the morning with concomitant house arrests.
In 1994 we created our first mural, The Petrol Bomber. It was greatly admired at the time and made it to many front pages in newspapers all around the world. It is still admired by most people who see it. And if we thought the world had ended we can now rejoice in the fact that a superior power has turned our defeat into victory. Our new studio is so much better we wonder how we managed to survive at all back at our old gaff.
Above is a flick of us just after we finished the Bernadette Mural. Seems like yesterday and we little thought then we would go on to paint ten more murals that together comprise THE PEOPLE’S GALLERY now fast becoming one of the most visited sites in the whole of Ireland. And we even have a book about it too that was launched recently by John Hume. “Fantastic and entertaining” he called it, which it is, of course. How could it not be? You can get it here.
Nobel Laureate John Hume with Kevin Hasson and Tom Kelly, two members of the group known as The Bogside Artists. In the background is the new studio. The missing member is William Kelly (Tom’s brother) who is in trouble with J.K Rowling’s legal reps over a book he wrote way back in 1990 called Travels with Li Po. You can find out more about that and about The Bogside Artists’ lives and work at: http://www.bogsideartists.com