Gabrielle Deeny, Contributor.
Many residents within Northern Ireland, especially Belfast, will be aware of the tours featuring the murals around the city. These murals highlight the history of division within the city. This tour however, is a fun and welcome change that focuses on the future of an incredibly vibrant and hopeful alternative art scene within the city. The only street art tour within the island of Ireland, the sites include many of the new and dynamic art-work from street-artists and graffiti artists from around the world.
Starting out at the commercial quarter we were given a quick explanation of the difference between, murals, graffiti and street-art. It’s mostly to do with the materials artists use, murals are painted onto walls using brushes and paint. While graffiti is strictly aerosol cans, and street-art, is simply a catch all name for any art in the street, from stencils, to stickers to “Yarn-bombing”, the practice of covering a place or object in colourful patterns made out of yarn, usually trees or fences. Many of the art seen on the tour is part of the ‘Hit the North’ Festival, the largest street art festival within the island of Ireland. Named after North street in Belfast. The pieces from this years festival featured established street artists like Dan Kitchner’s (DANK), whose piece ‘ The Dream’ can be found on Exchange street, as well as Irish artists like Jess Tobin, with her piece, ‘The Novice’ which can be found on Donegal street.
One of the best parts of the tour was hearing about the process of how the pieces were made. One of the stand-out pieces was ‘True to our words’ by StarFightera. The pieces scale was supposed to go over a buildings wall, so the artist was given a cherry picker to use. However, this still wasn’t high enough for the piece to be completed and the artist ended up using a ladder perched on the cherry picker.
The tour guide brought up the issue of “tagging” (marking with a name or logo) and whether or not commissioned street art is fair game to be tagged. Most street artists accept that if their art is out in the open its fair-game to be marked, with one artist, Esther O’Kelly even incorporating a tag into her art.
There was also the fact that not all walls are created equal, with artists having to avoid windows. One artist Friz, manged to incorporate vents into her work to make a fun, light-hearted and whimsical piece, ‘Galaxy Paws.’
Whether you’re new to Belfast or just want to see a different side of it, this tour is a fantastic way to explore a vibrant and alternative scene.
The Seedhead Street Art walking tour usually runs every Sunday. They also runs a lot of other alternative events, from everything to cabaret to magic shows, be sure to check them out!
Walking tour price: £8
Place: Commercial quarter
Time: Sunday 12-2 (roughly 2 hours)