City interface given artistic overhaul

Published Tuesday, 17 July 2012
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One of north Belfast's peace lines has been given a facelift by an artist who is more used to addressing conflict in his native Colombia.

City interface given artistic overhaul
The space at the interface now shows a map of north Belfast. (© UTV)

The gate between Flax Street and the Crumlin Road has been locked for around 40 years, but now the space has been transformed into a map, sealed under a layer of cracked glass.

Community consultations in the Ardoyne and greater Shankill areas led to the project which used aerial photography to detail the myriad of streets and pathways in north Belfast.

Artist Oscar Munoz hopes Ambulatorio Belfast will highlight the relationships being built between the previously divided communities.

"The goal of this piece is to give people a part of a place that was closed before and to give people the opportunity to interact with this place and with the work," he said.

It is part of the Draw Down the Walls project, a collaboration between the Golden Thread Gallery and community groups.

Ian McLaughlin, from Lower Shankill Community Association, said the artwork is a significant step for the area.

"At Draw Down the Walls, we have a vision of this city without barriers, which is why this is a pivotal event. We're very pleased with what's happened and we're keen to continue this into the future."

On the other side of the divide, Breandan Clarke from North Belfast Interface Network said: "We have opened interfaces through this engagement that has been facilitated by Draw Down the Walls about the idea of having this space utilised in that way.

"That's the seismic thing for us. Communities have come together."

The artwork is just a piece of the larger Ambulatorio project, in which Oscar Munoz originally used a black and white aerial map of the Colombian city of Cali to reflect the turmoil between the state and drug cartels in the 1990s.

Mr Munoz developed his concept to fit Belfast's history, acknowledging the Troubles, but also hoping for change.

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said Mr Munoz has seen the potential of the area.

"North Belfast is a great place and has survived despite the patchwork of interfaces woven right across this city. This is another wonderful thing.

"I think it's a very good opportunity for us in a very positive way to highlight the work that the people do all year round," she said.

Interface art in north Belfast.

© UTV News
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