Local tiler celebrates release of new ‘Battle of the Bogside’ artwork

A Derry tiler and artist has created an art piece celebrating the famous Battle of the Bogside photograph and mural.

Tiler Tony working on the artwork. The finished artwork (right).
Tiler Tony working on the artwork. The finished artwork (right).

Tony Sweeney is a tiler by trade, originally from the Top of the Hill area in Derry.

When the first lockdown hit, Tony decided to use his new-found spare time to learn the skill of mosaic art. This new skill has taken Tony in a new direction, something new, but he says that he has enjoyed the challenge.

“I’ve always had a creative flair and wanted to do something different that I could spend my spare time on and thought why not put my skills into something that could be a game changer in art,” he said. “I started this project at the start of the first lockdown in 2020. I’m not one to sit about and when I was told that I couldn’t work due to the restrictions, I needed to throw myself into something, which was this,” he said.

Tiler Tony beside the mural.

The Waterside native runs his own company, Tiling by Tony Sweeney, and the art piece was made at home in a garage.

Tony says that this new skill came naturally to him, and he enjoyed working on every part of this project as it shows the picture in 3D.

Describing himself as a perfectionist, Tony said he enjoyed putting the project together piece by piece, including as much detail as possible. The one-of-a-kind art piece recreates the famous ‘Battle of the Bogside’ mural on Rossville Street.

Made entirely of small tiles, the art piece is a modern, fresh remake of an iconic photo and mural in the city.

“The original picture is iconic to this city and its history which inspired me to have this as my first piece,” said Tony.

The ‘Battle of the Bogside’ started on August 12, 1969, and is seen as the start of the conflict in Northern Ireland. While last Sunday marked 50 years to the day since Bloody Sunday in Derry, with events being held across the city all last weekend to commemorate the date, Tony says the release of his art pieces was coincidental.

Speaking ahead of last weekend, he said:

“When I started this project in March 2020, I didn’t expect it to take so long and thought it would have only taken a few months.

“Had it been ready I would have released it last year, but it just so happens we are coming to the 50th anniversary and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

Tony plans to continue working on art pieces; and more information on this creation and future projects can be found on his Facebook page and Instagram.