Major exhibition commemorating 20 years of Belfast/Good Friday Agreement draws on people’s commitment to peace
The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies is bringing the iconic Hands of History installation across the Irish Sea for the first time, as part of a major exhibition to mark 20 years since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
Opening in the University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum on March 26, Agreement: A People’s Process combines photography, painting, sculpture, installations, animation and textiles. It explores conflict and people’s capacity to build values of parity of esteem and mutual respect. In recognising both victimhood and peace-building, it examines the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, as well as violent conflict in Columbia, Iraq and Argentina.
The exhibition features:
- Updated Hands of History installation, featuring new additions such as Bertie Ahern and Monica McWilliams, alongside the original hand casts of Gerry Adams, David Trimble, Tony Blair, Mo Mowlam and other key players
- New installation featuring keys collected from the cells and buildings of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol
- The first exhibition of images taken on a smuggled camera by British soldier, LCpl Stan Holman, who died in 1985 from injuries sustained in Northern Ireland
- An animated film featuring people of all ages reading excerpts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement aloud.
- Textiles created in tribute to 360 innocent individuals not involved in proscribed organisations, to demonstrate the human cost of violence and terrorism.
Institute of Irish Studies Director, Professor Peter Shirlow said: “Agreement: A People’s Process shows us that peace-building does not belong to a political elite and reminds us that it is the courage and creativity of people’s commitment to transforming conflict where we find creative and inspired leadership.
“Agreement: A People’s Process celebrates that commitment to engage and think imaginatively, resourcefully and inspirationally about victims, reconstruction and the recognition of harm endured.
“The exhibition stimulates how we think about the people’s process and the ways in which we stretch beyond the political and into the inspired space of OUR obligation to interdependence, mutual respect and relational change.”
Hand of History +20 artist, Raymond Watson said: “What progress has been achieved in our society over the last 25 years?
“This exhibition will explore the theme with a reinvigoration of older work alongside important new installations.
“I am very excited to have finally been able to add new hand casts of leaders like Bertie Ahern.”
The interactive digital exhibition of Agreement is available at www.liverpool.ac.uk/peoplesprocess
Agreement: A People’s Process includes the following elements:
Hands of History +20
Artist, Raymond Watson brings the Hands of History across the Irish Sea for the first time. The installation comprises the bronze hands of Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, David Ervine and Mo Mowlam, and others who led the peace process (Watson’s original Belfast/Good Friday sculpture), alongside new bronze hands of those who continue to advance peace-building, including Monica McWilliams.
The bronzes are mounted on bases cut from Mourne Granite, the same material that forms the steps to Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast. The use of granite stone reflects the notion that in ancient times there was a sense of immense power and permanency about a large rough shaped rock. This centrepiece is accompanied by other sculptures created using reclaimed wood, as well as paintings and prints.
Making their international debut will be three audio visual installations using genuine historical artefacts in combination with digital technology to produce immersive, thought provoking artworks. The artefacts include a grappling hook made by prisoners at Long Kesh/Maze prison in the 1970s; the keys from the cells and buildings at Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast hanging in an interactive gallery space; and an audio memoir presentation by the artist, Raymond Watson.
Invitation to Observe photographic exhibition
Curated by Pauline Hadaway using photographs by British, Irish, Argentinean, Iraqi and Columbian contributors, Invitation to Observe presents seven remarkable works that bear witness to and reflect on the experience of conflict and conflict transformation.
This continuous screening takes us on a reflective journey through Northern Ireland, Argentina, Colombia and Iraq; with highlights from Frankie Quinn’s Interface Images and Israel-Palestine; Helen Zout’s Disparitions; Bitter from Open Shutters Iraq (by Um Mohammed and Eugenie Dolberg); Edwin Cubillos Rodriguez’s Labrando Memorias (from Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, Colombia); Jamie Holman’s Belfast Shadows, from LCpl’s Stan Holman’s collection, and Chad Alexander’s Entries. Invitation to Observe is an intimate and emotional journey through a landscape exploring the personal impact of conflict.
Lyrical Agreement animated film
Lyrical Agreement is a unique piece of work commissioned for Agreement: A People’s Process. Excerpts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement are read aloud by people of all ages living in Northern Ireland. The voices are both those who lived through conflict, and those who have known more peaceful times. It features contributors from both sides of the border, as well as those who have come to call Northern Ireland home.
Lyrical Agreement crosses the traditional community divide. It recognises that despite differences each side has been affected by the transformative impact of the Agreement. The visual interpretation of the excerpts takes the form of a music video, featuring the words of the Agreement and ownership of these by the people. Through reflective and symbolic imagery, Lyrical Agreement acknowledges where Northern Ireland was before the Agreement and considers how far the country has come.
Your Legacy Lives On textiles
Southeast Fermanagh Federation has created three memorial quilts entitled; Your Legacy Lives On, Terrorism Knows NO Borders and A Patchwork of Innocents, to demonstrate the human cost of terrorism and criminal violence.
Across the three quilts, approximately 360 innocent individuals not involved in proscribed organisations are remembered. They are ordinary people – both adults and children – from all faith backgrounds and none, who would have been defined as British, Irish or other nationalities. The quilts send a unified message that criminal violence is not an acceptable means to advance or defend a political objective.
Individual quilt patches contain symbols that are personal to those remembered and honoured. These patches have been produced by the families of those who died and/or a team of volunteers. Each patch humanises the victim and draws upon their personality and our obligation to remember them.