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the people's gallery

The People's Gallery comprises the (current) eleven wall murals painted by The Bogside Artists on gable walls in Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry. This outdoor gallery was offically inaugurated on Tuesday 31 July 2007 with the unveiling of the above sign. A dedication was undertaken by the Rev. Edward Daly, the former bishop of Derry. Also present were The Bogside Artists (Tom Kelly, Kevin Hasson, and William Kelly), John Hume, former MP and MEP, and Martin McGuinness, current Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive. There are some photographs of the inauguration below (click on the photographs to see a larger image). Also below is the text of a speech given by Tom Kelly on behalf of The Bogside Artists.

At the inauguration (left to right) Rev. Edward Daly, John Hume, Tom Kelly, William Kelly, Kevin Hasson, Martin McGuinness. The Bogside Artists (Tom Kelly, Kevin Hasson and William Kelly) below the new sign for The People's Gallery.

John Hume talking to The Bogside Artists following the inauguration. The Bogside Artists talking with Rev. Edward Daly prior to the inauguration.

Martin McGuinness being interviewed following the inauguration. Tom Kelly speaking to the media prior to the inauguration.


The full context of a speech delivered during the inauguration of The People’s Gallery by The Bogside Artists

"We have just witnessed a dedication. Thanks to the former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, and also to John Hume and Martin McGuinness.

This dedication is most appropriate, because that is what this gallery is, a blessing. A blessing to the people who live here, a blessing to the people whose income, in part or in total, is derived from it; and a blessing for the future of all the people of Derry and their welfare. The gallery was, from the very beginning, an act of voluntary service. It is important you realise this simple fact. And, we don’t mind saying it has been one hell of a struggle.

These murals are, first and foremost, a human document. That is what they were meant to be. They were designed to appeal to anyone in the world. But specifically, for the people who live here. Those are the people who have paid for these works and, much to their credit, have looked after them, all these years. It is they who donated the funds to help us purchase materials and get what we needed to create our paintings. We mean, the taxi drivers, the publicans, the small shop keepers, the local residents in particular and all people of all persuasions. We call it The People’s Gallery, for that simple reason.

In that regard we wish to thank especially the sons and daughters of these same people, the youth of the Glenfada Park and Lisfannon Park area for looking out for their heritage, at a time when murals throughout the North were being vandalised. It is thanks to them too that the murals are in such magnificent condition.

The murals have fine plinths in front of them. They need nothing else in order to inform the visitor what they are about. They are sentinels of sanity in a mad world. They are living witnesses to our history. That indeed is what all good art does and is meant to do. Long may they remain so, giving our young the incentive to strive for excellence in their chosen fields and to see their life-tasks through with perseverance and resolve.

We take leave to repeat that these murals constitute a human document, not a political propaganda exercise. You can take that view, if you wish, but you would be quite wrong. They tell a story, pure and simple. If we strove to get beyond the merely parochial in this fashion, it is because that is what we were brought up to be and to do. Reverend Daly and every clear thinking person here can easily understand what we mean by that. Derry was not born in an enclosure. It has always, in its own fashion, considered itself a citizen of the world.

For the record, The Bogside Artists, have come a long way since we first approached the Housing Executive in 1996 when they were engaged in refurbishing the Bogside; and armed with hundreds of signatures from the local residents we succeeded in preventing the Executive from pebble dashing the walls. Indeed, the Executive actually rendered the walls for us leaving a concrete border all around the gable ends. Without their willing support this series of murals, The People’s Gallery would not exist. Thanks again to all of you for turning up. And may our work bring you all good fortune."


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