Graffiti safari sparks lively debate

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Young people from across Derry and Strabane have taken part in a series of ‘graffiti safaris’ to develop a greater understanding of the murals and street art of the communities of the city and district.

The Cathedral Youth Club, Derry City & Strabane District Council’s youth steering group and Youth Action NI’s Beacon Programme, which included Foyle Down Syndrome Trust and Playtrail members, were among those involved.

The Strabane EOTAS (Education Other Than At School) group also took part in the project, which was funded by the Acorn Fund/Community Foundation for NI.

Derry-based filmmaker, street art enthusiast and founder of the Together in Pieces Interactive CIC social enterprise, Eileen Walsh, led a series of half-day workshops that used street art, graffiti and hip hop culture to stimulate young people and make them aware of the importance of their surroundings and environment.

She explained: “It was designed to highlight the important role public space plays in our own mental health and well-being.

“What you see around you on a daily basis really does affect you. Often children carry messages of what they’ve seen on walls and buildings in their minds until they are adults.

“With Together in Pieces Interactive, we’re trying to empower young people to take ownership of their own communities and their own public space.

“The workshops were very much full on and highly interactive. Participants were shown a screening of Together in Pieces, a 25 minute film by myself and David Dryden, commissioned by the Community Relations Council, which documents Northern Ireland’s changing political landscape through graffiti, slogans and murals.

“The film acts as a catalyst for debate and discussion, so there were lots of conversations afterwards and there were a series of creative tasks specifically designed for each group of young people.”