“The People’s Gallery:” Art in the Heart of the Conflict with Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson
Air Dates: February 14-20, 2022
For one generation of Americans, civil and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland was brought into our homes through regular reporting on the nightly news. For a younger generation, it was brought home in the powerful lyrics of the band known as U2. Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson of the Bogside Artists are creating street art and murals that remember that era in Northern Ireland’s history.
Tom Kelly and Kevin Hasson are artists and members of The Bogside Artists, best-known for their outdoor murals called “The People’s Gallery” in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry. Kelly’s brother William, now deceased, was the third member of The Bogside Artists. Kelly is a native of Derry, Northern Ireland. He leads a Celtic Christian community in the heart of the Bogside that provides spiritual support for those affected by the “Troubles.” He views art as a powerful tool to bring Protestants and Catholics together, using it to assuage religious conflict long before the cultural elite of Northern Ireland recognized its cathartic and healing power. Coming from a family talented in visual and musical arts, Kevin Hasson’s art has been influenced by his extensive travels. Apart from his work with the Bogside Artists, he painted many murals across Germany during his twelve-year residency in Frankfurt. Hasson’s boyhood experiences as a member of The International Voluntary Service in Calcutta, India helped him realize the ubiquity of social injustice and its roots.
On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Kelly and Hasson describe their work on “The People’s Gallery,” which depict their community’s experience of living through the “Troubles,” several decades of conflict that often turned violent. They consider their murals a human document and hope viewing the work will be a cathartic experience, not just for the artists, but for the entire community.
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