Civil rights anthem ‘cut into’ front of new-look Free Derry museum

Derry artist Locky Morris pictured alongside his new artwork at the Museum of Free Derry. Photo: Martin McKeown.
Derry artist Locky Morris pictured alongside his new artwork at the Museum of Free Derry. Photo: Martin McKeown.

Award-winning Derry artist Locky Morris is the man behind the impressive artwork on the front wall of the new-look Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside.

Entitled ‘We Shall Overcome’, the piece was conceived as an integral part of the architecture of the museum itself.

It uses the actual “sound waveform” of the moment on Bloody Sunday when the marchers sang the famous civil rights anthem, ‘We Shall Overcome’.

These 21 seconds have, in a sense, been literally ‘cut into’ the fabric of the new building at Glenfada Park and, according to a museum spokesperson, can be seen as a ‘paean’ to community resistance amidst deadly force.

“The linear form and repetitions make reference to the original wooden fence that would have faced north on a similar axis along this part of Glenfada Park,” said the spokesperson. “Indeed, this plane draws a line with the renowned ‘rubble barricade’ that ran across Rossville Street at that time which also hints at the idea of ‘An bhearna bhaoil’ - the gap of danger or frontline.” 

It’s understood the deliberate use of thick steel with a rust patina - which gives an ‘elemental’ feel to the finish - is meant to be redolent of a period of urban conflict with its images of barbed wire, burnt vehicles, and broken paving slabs. 

The artwork is also meant to resonate outside its local context.

“Its aim is to connect, historically and contemporaneously, with a wider international communal struggle and desire for justice and civil rights,” said the spokesperson. “The song itself, of course, already the civil rights anthem in the USA, had become an anthem for the civil rights movement here in the 1960s.”