Together in Pieces: Changing landscapes, changes mindsets
by Catherine DOYLE for Northern Ireland Foundation
19 June 2014
‘Together in Pieces: Changing landscapes, changes mindsets’ is a new film documenting the fluctuating backdrops of Northern Ireland. The infamous murals that have plagued both communities are being painted over into something more positive.
Commissioned by the Community Relations Council, ‘Together in Pieces’ looks at how graffiti artists are shaking things up; quite literally, with every spray-can that is shook, another more creative and progressive piece replaces the old negative tribal paintings.
The film begins by displaying images of murals and slogans that are all too familiar across Northern Ireland, while vox-pops are used to show the public’s desire to be rid of them. There’s an assortment of voices, but united in what they are saying. “It makes your streets look dirty,” “it’s not nice for visitors” and “sick of looking at them,” are just an example of the growing distaste against politically motivated slogans and murals.
There was no better location than the Cathedral Quarter’s Oh Yeah Music Centre, with its array of punk memorabilia for a film about urban graffiti, fits in well with the anti-establishment and fresh feel in the surroundings.
Obviously talented, the street art can involve one-liners to more elaborate designs with real creativity behind them.
Talking about the benefits of the graffiti revolution, Co-Director David Dryden said: “I’d rather see a group of kids spraying on a wall rather than being idle.”
The film finishes with Clinton’s visit to Derry-Londonderry at the start of the year: “What kills people’s spirit is believing every tomorrow is just going to be like yesterday” and referring specifically to the younger members listening, “Finish the job.”
During the panel discussion, mural expert Bill Rolston (Emeritus Professor of the University of Ulster) said: “Walls should be for everybody; just let’s have walls for everybody.”
Martin Nangle (Founder of the Citizen’s Wallpaper Project) talked about how the new digital world is creating new platforms: “Tomorrow belongs to tomorrow’s people; we have to listen to young people.”
Before the screening, Eileen Walsh told me the film was about both younger and older members of the community coming together — this came across in the range of faces and voices onscreen.
One of the community workers involved in the film, Catherine Pollack, talked about a survey into views of politically motivated messages: “97% of people said graffiti in their area is something they don’t want.” Ms Pollack likened herself and colleagues to fire fighters going out to wash away the unwanted messages as they appear.
The film highlighted some remarkable community work and silent peace building. For example, Linda Watson said that she needed to consult with paramilitaries in order to get permission to paint over murals, and a paramilitary representative had to oversee the removal so that the community knew that it was okay.
Producer and Co-Director Eileen Walsh said that “it is an important film to see”, as it can be screened to foster debate and discussions. ‘Together in Pieces’ showcases the reimagining of what our streets could look like. It is worth watching.