The Bogside Artists have received accolades and standing ovations in many places around the world for their presentations. They talk about their artwork first and foremost, not just as muralists but as ambassadors for the city of Derry, a role they have played over many years. They talk about their gallery of murals and about their work in using art as a healing praxis for the children of Derry.
They can count among their friends many of the outstanding figures of the their day; John Hume, Ivan Cooper, Ex-Bishop Edward Daly, professors from many universities notably in Berkeley, California, Houston, New York and in Boston College. Senators and politicians, pop stars and fellow-artists like Jim Fitzpatrick who created the famous Che Guevara T-shirt and internationally acclaimed Nigel Rolfe have all graced the portals of The Bogside Artists' studio. The list goes on to include writers like Brian Friel and social activists such as Bernadette Devlin and every mayor of the city there has been since they set out on their epic journey in 1994. For the unveiling of their last mural, "A Tribute to John Hume", Bono of U2 fame sent them a message to read out for the great man. Every year a new luminary swims into the artists' remarkable space and none has been disappointed. All are admirers of what these three men have achieved and are usually amazed at the mean-spirited obstacles they have had to overcome in order to achieve it.
They continue with their talks at the studio and with their trips abroad to speak of their open-air art gallery and the incredible and unique journey in art they have undertaken. All this is now captured in their book, appropriately called The People's Gallery described by John Hume who launched it as "fantastic and entertaining... bringing honour and respect to our city and our people". It is an art book and a history book all in one.
The photos (right) show Tom in action giving a talk to some students followed by a meeting with the provost of St. Thomas' College Houston, Texas, that Tom and Kevin visited recently. The last picture shows John Hume and Ivan Cooper who held the 40th anniversary of The Civil Rights Campaign at the artists's studio, a huge honour for both the artists and their studio. But it is their murals that visitors come to see and talk about.