An art exhibition focusing on the victims of Northern Ireland’s troubled past has gone on display at Stormont for the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
Silent Testimony, by Co Down artist Colin Davidson, features 18 large-scale portraits – each of which portrays the personal experience of individuals who suffered loss during the Troubles.
He worked with the victims’ group Wave on the portraits, which were first displayed at the Ulster Museum in 2015 and have toured extensively.
It has now been placed on display in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings.
A number of those who sat for the portraits attended the launch event on Friday evening as well as Northern Ireland’s victims commissioner Ian Jeffers, who thanked Mr Davidson for giving such a powerful voice for victims.
Addressing the gathering, Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey said it is important victims are remembered as the anniversary agreement approaches, adding they have too often felt left behind by the political process.
“With this in mind, and as part of the Assembly’s own contribution to marking this anniversary, I was delighted when Colin Davidson agreed a number of months ago to the display of his exhibition to come for the first time to Parliament Buildings,” he said.
“I have no doubt that this inclusion will add a very significant addition to the visitor experience of those coming to Parliament Buildings in the weeks ahead.”
Mr Davidson said he first conceived the idea of the exhibition back in 2013/14 and thanked those at Wave for supporting the work, and those who sat for his paintings.
“In making the 18 paintings I made 18 new friends, and it spread beyond that for me,” he said.
“I’d like to thank each of the 18 people who sat for me, who entrusted their stories to me, who hadn’t had an opportunity to tell their stories before but welcomed me into their homes and let me into their world, allowed me to experience a fragment of what they had been going through, and allowed me to build that spirit, that sense of sometimes trauma, always grief, into the fabric of the paint.
“It’s because of their trust in me and their willingness to engage that the paintings contain that power, I cannot lay claim to that.”
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