The most important development this year at the studio has been the launch of a book called The People’s Gallery about the work of The Bogside Artists from Derry, N.Ireland. This informative and challenging book, written by them, is on the subject of murals in general, but more especially, about their own work as mural painters in the heart of Derry itself, the Bogside. It contains not only spectacular photos of their huge murals from their own archives but commentaries from playwright Brian Friel, John Hume, retired Bishop Daly and other figures from the worlds of art and politics. Among its pages you will find humour, anecdote, historical fact and a step-by-step account of the making of a mural. It explores the American-Ireland connection in depth and gives a highly entertaining synopsis of that period of political and spiritual ferment known as The Sixties.
(Above - John Hume after launching the book at the studio. Below - Intrepid art impresario and curator Richard Demarco with Tom and Kevin who presented him with the book at the Royal College of Art, London.)
Launching the book at thes studio on Februrary 27th this year, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate John Hume had this to say:
" I feel very privileged and honoured to be with the Bogside Artists on this very important day for the launch of their book - "The People' Gallery". The book is a fascinating and entertaining read. As well as accounts of each of the twelves murals, there is a short history of Ireland with special reference to Derry, an interesting look back at world events in the second half of the twentieth century, especially the struggle for civil rights in America and here in the North....As Brian Friel the world renowned playwright said of their work - "The work of the Bogside Artists is celebrated locally and internationally, but it is their reputation that is important both to the artists and to their locality. ....This publication is an important record of a pivotal period of our history, and I have no doubt that it will make an enormous contribution to the respect for and interest in our city. "
It interesting to note that unlike the famous murals ofMexico the majority of these murals were painted while the conflict was still going on. Moreover, they were financed, not by the government or the elitest wing of it that takes charge of selective funding for the arts but by the small contributions of the local citizens.Tom. William and Kevin collected the pennies, cap-in-hand, to finance a project that is now a must-see destination for anyonevisiting Ireland and a boon to a struggling city. This book, like their murals "tells it like it is." Packed full of history and ancedote it is a must for student and visitor alike.