Multimedia Derry-EU border project enters: (In)visible Walls

In October 2021, two independent European media-outlets named Are We Europe and DE/MO visited Derry to carry out a project named Untold Stories.

By Conor McClean
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 10:28 am
Participants from the Untold Stories project.
Participants from the Untold Stories project.

Over the course of one week a collective of journalists and creatives from different parts of Ireland developed a multimedia news story named (In)visible Walls.

During the ‘sprint’ week the 10 participants across Ireland worked as a team to formulate a theme based on issues they believed were relevant today.

The Untold Stories project travelled throughout the edges of Europe in order to highlight issues and stories unreported by mainstream, or traditional media. Are We Europe and DEMO are a collective of journalists, creatives and visionaries. Derry was one of seven places selected to produce work along with areas in Cyprus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania,
Estonia, Hungary and Greenland.

(In)visible Walls

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    The theme of (In)visible Walls focuses on looking at a brighter future for Derry through the progression of street art, multiculturalism and by addressing new types of conversations. The multimedia story is an online journal which takes you through a tour of illustrations, photographs, interviews and local history.

    Aine McGlinchey is a multimedia journalist from Derry who was involved in the project.

    “We all collaborated together to come up with stories and ideas,” she said. “Part of my role was to interview some of the contributors for the project. I also did some camera work and sound.

    “We all had our own roles, but we worked closely together as a team. It was great because we did a lot of team building skills, so everyone brought forward their ideas, spoke freely, and got to say what they wanted to say. With the main theme, we wanted to get away from the ‘orange and green’ - because we felt it was talked about so much within Derry already. We wanted to kind of steer away from that without taking away from it either. We decided to go down the route of what other issues people may have.

    “We used the Derry Walls as a concept, and came up with the idea of asking people: ‘What is your wall?’

    “Through that we discovered a lot of different issues that are not just orange and green, things like emigration, LGBTQ campaigns, racism and lots of different things that you normally wouldn’t associate with Derry. These are the areas we focused on in order to shine the light on these issues.”

    The DEMO foundation is a creative arts-hub based in the Netherlands. The team set out to encourage the movement of young creatives in order to build vibrant forward thinking democracies. Dylan Ahern is a co-founder of DEMO. Throughout the sprint week Dylan facilitated the campaign team with producing the final product. “We are a European foundation that aims to build political engagement in Europe through culture,” he said.

    “DEMO stands for Democratic Movement but also for a ‘demo’, a draft version of your newest music EP, and a ‘demonstration’ - as you can see, we like to mix culture with activism. We initiate multimedia projects, host workshops and events, produce campaigns, amongst other things. We think that young people would much rather see an epic film about climate change than attend another talk or lecture. We also believe they’ll be more easily inspired and activated if they see cool content.”

    Aine says that working with people from different parts of the world has inspired her to pursue a career in the media industry. “It’s something I definitely want to do now, move away somewhere; maybe within 
Europe or over to England,” said Aine. “I’d like to explore different cultures and see more things. Journalism is a career that can take you anywhere, so it would be good to move away I think. There are a lot of influential people who came from Derry, like John Hume and singers like Dana.

    “Lots of good things have come from this city and it is such a historical place. It is very different from the rest of Ireland I think.

    “I have never done a project like Untold Stories before, where you got to meet different people from all over the world. There were people from the Netherlands, America, Taiwan, and a girl who was originally from Ukraine who now lives in Dublin. It was so nice to work with, and to meet people from different nationalities, and to find out what their culture is like.”

    The DEMO foundation empowers citizens across the 
European continent to speak up about the local and transnational challenges they may face. DEMO act as a pan-
European network by facilitating local democratic movement hubs where people can collaborate, network, join and host workshops, and launch new projects. They are passionate about exploring ideas through experiences which can shapes our views in societies as a whole.

    “For Untold Stories, we chose seven places that are underrepresented in the 
European public debate about the future of Europe,” 
said Dylan. “From Cyprus, to Estonia, to Derry. We choose Derry specifically, because the impact of Brexit is indeed a story that already has and will impact the future of the European Union. Choosing Derry allowed us to invite both people from the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland to discuss this matter, and to share their stories about Northern Ireland, Brexit and the future of Europe.

    “Foremostly, I learned that most young people in Derry want to get on with their lives primarily, meaning, going beyond the presumed differences, and that Derry has become much more than the protestant-catholic division. There’s Polish-Irish, Afro-Irish, and so many others who colour up the city and bring new vibrancy to it.”

    Dylan grew up in 
Amsterdam and his father was born in Dublin. Having travelled throughout Europe exploring different issues on the continent, Dylan believes the troubled history of NI is being 
undermined by those in power. 
“It seems the British government are handling Brexit and the NI Protocol quite light heartedly,” he said.

    “The UK government doesn’t seem to realise the potential of another conflict surging in Northern Ireland. I think it would be such a pity as the Peace Process for the past two decades has been really stable, and people have been moving on with their lives and going beyond the division; as we’ve seen and researched. The way the British government is acting is like it is stirring up those older divisions it seems.

    “First and foremost I think people just want stability. If the British government does not want to be inside the EU, then I think they should not be treated as some sort of special case; it is such a shame what they are inflicting.”

    The (In)visible Walls 
story features interviews with people from different backgrounds and walks of life in Derry. The team of multimedia creatives and campaigners from both sides of the Irish border wanted to provide a space for discussion through collaborative ideas. The work 
collected combines video, interviews, text, 
photography, audio and 
colourful illustrations that shed light on some of the 
issues affecting people today.

    At the end of the sprint week the group presented a closing event in the Verbal Arts Centre.

    Former member of the European Parliament and Sinn Féin MLA, Martina Anderson was invited to the closing event to discuss the outcomes of the project, and to shed light on the politics of Ireland after Brexit.

    During the event the team used its idea of the ‘Talking Bench’ to facilitate an open conversation. During the sprint week, the group of participants in the campaign team worked alongside local creatives UV Arts to source a public bench. The bench was given a make-over and was 
redeveloped through vibrant artwork.

    The words “What’s your story?” were painted on to promote people to spark up a connection.

    The ‘Derry on the Bench’ was used around different parts of the city, and promoted via a social-media campaign.