Hands of History

The Hands of History by Raymond Watson

Hands of History by Raymond Watson

 

The Hands of History by Raymond Watson is part of

AGREEMENT: THE PEOPLE’S PROCESS

A contemporary Art Exhibition reflecting on 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland

 

Hands of History by Raymond Watson

Hands of History by Raymond Watson

 

This touring show has been exhibited at

Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool

and

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

 

Shortly after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the artist Raymond Watson managed to persuade the politicians involved in negotiating the Agreement (some of whom are now deceased) to allow him to take a cast of their hands, which he later cast in bronze, to create a unique sculpture entitled Hands of History.

Raymond‘s Hands of History is an important, significant and truly unique artwork that captures a momentous and historic event in Irish history.

 

To mark the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a power sharing assembly, Raymond has been casting the hands of a range of people from across the communities who have helped build the peace over the last twenty years.

The Hands of History includes bronzes of the hands of Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern,Tony Blair, John Hume, Senator George Mitchell, Lord David Trimble, Mo Mowlam and others who led the peace process, alongside the cast hands of those who continue to advance peace-building, including Monica McWilliams, Peter Robinson and the Rev Harold Good.

 

This Hands of History centrepiece will be accompanied two new installations that combine genuine and rare historical items with digital technology to produce immersive, thought provoking art installations.

The artefacts include an original prison-made grappling hook and the ‘keys of Crumlin Road Prison.’

The grappling hook was covertly crafted and hidden by prisoners at Long Kesh/Maze prison in the early 1970s. The artist brought the hook to Belfast’s Peace Wall, a 25 foot high structure that divides the two communities, and used as the centrepiece of an audio visual exploration of the struggle to escape both the wall and the sectarianism it represents.

The second installation utilizes the actual keys from the cells and buildings at the Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, in a walk-through sound and visual experience that attempts to explore the past’s power to imprison, while also exploring the possibilities of unlocking, and of setting free.

 

 Filming at the Peace Wall, Belfast

Filming at the Peace Wall, Belfast

 

Agreement: The People’s Progress, explores the past through the use of video, photographs and craftwork.

The video Lyrical Agreement includes excerpts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement read aloud by Belfast people of all ages.  The voices belong to those who survived the conflict, and those who have been lucky enough to know only peaceful times.

 

Invitation to Observe, curated by Pauline Hadaway, presents seven remarkable works that bear witness to, and reflect on, the experience of conflict and conflict transformation. These photographs create a journey through international conflict resolution from Northern Ireland, Argentina, Colombia and Iraq, using photographs by British, Irish, Argentinean and Colombian contributors.  Highlights include Frankie Quinn’s Interface Images, LCpl’s Stan Holman’s collection, and Chad Alexander’s Entries.  Invitation to Observe is an intimate and emotional journey through the landscape of the city exploring the personal impact of conflict on both victims and serving officers in the British Army.

 

 

Memorial Quilts, produced by those who lost loved ones in the conflict, will be on display.  The Memorial Quilts allow us to tell the story of ‘The Troubles’ in a very human way, encouraging people viewing the patches to consider the individual being remembered and not simply the badge or affiliation they had with a particular organisation which for some made them a ‘legitimate target’ for assassination. These individual’s lives had worth not only to their families but to their colleagues, friends and the wider community at large.

 

 The Keys installation by Raymond Watson

The Keys installation by Raymond Watson

 

The exhibition was initiated by the Institute of Irish Studies in Liverpool, working alongside the ArtisAnn Gallery in Belfast. The Institute is a recognised world leader in promoting the understanding of peace building and conflict resolution.

 

Commenting on the exhibition, Professor Peter Shirlow FAcSS, Director, The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, said:

‘The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is in its 21st year. It led to a significant reduction in violence and the building of new transitional agreements. Despite evident difficulties it has achieved much and in particular grounded peace-building into communities. We felt recognition of the Agreement should be undertaken through the creative arts so as to embed the peace process as belonging to the people. It is they who have stretched themselves into new relationships. Without those who had suffered and endured taking on the role of brokers for transformation there would be no peace process.

The Institute of Irish Studies has commissioned/engaged three pieces. Raymond Watson's Hand of History exhibition speaks to the capacity to escape ideological enclosure. Pauline Hadaway has curated a photographic exhibition that speaks to global images of conflict, and we have commissioned a video celebrating young people's determination to be custodians of peace-building. Finally, SEFF have agreed to exhibit the commemorative quilts related to the innocent victims of conflict.

We hope that in assembling such an array of materials and concepts that those who visit the exhibition feel immersed in the spirit of remembering and promoting peace.’

 

Hands cast for original sculpture

 

Gerry Adams: President of Sinn Féin

Malachi Curran: Leader of the Labour Party of Northern Ireland

David Ervine: Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party

John Hume: Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party

Gary McMichael: Leader of the Ulster Democratic Party

Monica McWilliams: Co-Founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition

Mo Mowlam: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (UK Government)

Seán Neeson: Leader of the Alliance Party

David Trimble: First Minister of the NI Assembly and Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

 

Hands cast of additional politicians and key people involved in the peace process

 

Bertie Ahern: Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Irish Government and Leader of Fianna Fáil

John Alderdice: Speaker of NI Assembly and Leader of the Alliance Party

David Andrews: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Irish Government

Tony Blair: Prime Minister of UK Government

Denis Bradley: Co-chairman of Consultative Group on the Past and Vice Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board

Rev Robin Eames: Co-chairman of Consultative Group on the Past and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

Rev Harold Good: Member of Decommissioning Body

Gerry Kelly: Member of the NI Assembly and Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Policing and Justice

Naomi Long: Leader of the Alliance Party

Seamus Mallon: Deputy First Minister of NI Assembly and Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party

Bernie McGuinness: Widow of Deputy First Minister of the NI Assembly and Leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness

Malcolm McKibbin: Head of NI Civil Service

Sen. George Mitchell: US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland and Chair of NI Peace Negotiations

Mike Nesbitt: Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

Liz O’Donnell: Minister of State for Department of Foreign Affairs of the Irish Government

Nuala O’Loan: Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Ian Paisley Junior: Member of UK Parliament and son of Reverend Ian Paisley

Chris Patten: Chair of Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland

Jonathan Powell: Downing Street Chief of Staff for Tony Blair

Peter Robinson: First Minister of NI Assembly and Leader of Democratic Unionist Party

 

 The Grappling Hook video by Raymond Watson

The Grappling Hook video by Raymond Watson

 

 LCpl’s Stan Holman’s photographs, from "Belfast Shadows" by Jamie Holman

LCpl’s Stan Holman’s photographs, from "Belfast Shadows" by Jamie Holman

 

 

 "Interface Images" by Frankie Quinn

"Interface Images" by Frankie Quinn

 

 "RIP Decky" by Chad Alexander

"RIP Decky" by Chad Alexander

 

"Desapariciones" by Helen Zout 

"Desapariciones" by Helen Zout

 

"Abandoned house in old Mampujan" by Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez

"Abandoned house in old Mampujan" by Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez

 

 

The Agreement: The People’s Process project has been supported by:

 

Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 

Patrick Gaul

 

British Council NI

 

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust with funding from the Covenant Fund

 

Grant Aided by Belfast City Council

 

The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool

 

The ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast

 

Interview with Raymond Watson
​by Art for Reconciliation project
Institute of Irish Studies
​University of Liverpool

 

 

Interview with Ken Bartley
​by Art for Reconciliation project
Institute of Irish Studies
​University of Liverpool

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