Mural puts positive spin on graffiti

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The Bogside’s latest mural has been a talking point for local people and tourists alike, having been created by the very young people who would ordinarily daub negative graffiti in the area.

These enlightened youths, all aged between 11-13 years-old, are all part of the U-Turn Project and have channelled their desire to paint graffiti to instead create a valuable and permanent new mural in the Bogside’s world-famous open-air gallery.

Clare Maguire from the U-Turn Project works with young people to help combat anti-social and anti-community behaviour. She spoke with pride about the group’s latest achievement.

“The groups I’m working with are widely known for their negative sectarian graffiti and this wall, in particular, was one of the hotspots for graffiti in the Bogside area, so we primarily wanted to put a positive slant on graffiti. For this, we all came together with two very talented local graffiti artists, Ray Bonner and Donal O’Doherty, and discussed ideas that the young people felt would best represent their community to visiting tourists.”

Speaking of the themes behind the mural, Clare revealed that its central dove represents not only the heart of the community, Dove Gardens, but also peace.

Deciding upon symbols important to their community, the young people also chose to depict St Columba’s Church Long Tower and the H-Block Monument, while lilies represent their republican roots.

“These young people have been fantastic and have already been talking to tourists about their work and what it all means.

“The young people aimed to enhance their own area and make a positive contribution to their community, and I think they have achieved that.”

Clare hopes that this project might spur the young people on to more creative pursuits.

“The young people have already been so confident in talking to tourists about their work and they have also learned many new skills that we hope they’ll put to good use.”

Colm Barton from Triax Neighbourhood Management Team, which has been engaged in anti-graffiti work in the area for the past eighteen months, has welcomed the production of the new artwork. “This shows the transformational impact of positive engagement and genuine partnership working,” he told the ‘Journal’.