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A beautifully illustrated book about the unique political murals of Northern Ireland.
A beautifully illustrated book about the unique political murals of Northern Ireland.
354 backers pledged £14,169 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Front cover
Front cover

I am Stuart Borthwick, Principal Lecturer and Faculty Registrar (Arts and Professional Studies) at Liverpool John Moores University.

For the last eight years, I have been researching and photographing the unique political murals of Northern Ireland. I was initially fascinated by them as works of art of significant aesthetic merit. However, as I discovered more about the stories that they tell, I realised that they also revealed a gripping history of a troubled part of the world. I decided to tell this narrative as a chronology, illustrating Northern Ireland's history through the 'writing on the wall'.

A loyalist Cuchulainn, Lower Shankill, West Belfast
A loyalist Cuchulainn, Lower Shankill, West Belfast

There are eight chapters tracing back to mythological figures such as Cuchulainn, through to the arrival of King Billy and then into the twentieth century, with depictions of the Easter Rising and the civil war, followed by the partitioning of Ireland in 1922.

The Easter Rising, Beechmount, West Belfast
The Easter Rising, Beechmount, West Belfast

There are many murals describing the events leading to the partition of Ireland, but it is the events arising from the division of Ireland that are most prevalent, particularly those arising out of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, which developed into a conflict between militant republicans, armed loyalists and the British state.

The modern day UVF. Village, South Belfast
The modern day UVF. Village, South Belfast

 I tell the full story of the formation and development of loyalist paramilitary groups.

"The Petrol Bomber". Bogside, Derry.
"The Petrol Bomber". Bogside, Derry.

 Key events in the history of the Troubles are covered in detail, such as The Battle of the Bogside.

'Ulster Queen'. Woodstock, East Belfast
'Ulster Queen'. Woodstock, East Belfast

I have woven my narrative around each dramatic image. This is the first time the murals have been presented in this way and the book will describe each side's struggle in a dynamic and non-partisan commentary.

Hunger strikers mural. Bogside, Derry
Hunger strikers mural. Bogside, Derry

 The prison protests of the 1970s and the deaths of ten hunger strikers in 1981 transformed the conflict, and these are dealt with in chapter 6.

Julie Livingstone, “the stolen child”. Lenadoon, West Belfast.
Julie Livingstone, “the stolen child”. Lenadoon, West Belfast.

 Memorial murals dedicated to those who lost their lives are explored and explained.

The road from "conflict to peace", leading to Stormont. Village, South Belfast
The road from "conflict to peace", leading to Stormont. Village, South Belfast

 The final chapter of the book deals with the period since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998.

A post-conflict loyalist mural. Ballymacarrett, East Belfast
A post-conflict loyalist mural. Ballymacarrett, East Belfast

 This is a timely and important book. The murals of Northern Ireland are one of its main tourist attractions and thousands visit them every year. Writing on the Wall gives another perspective on their existence. The book will be 240 pages long, with 195 photographs. The photographs include murals that no longer exist and this adds to the book's importance as a printed record of a distinctive form of cultural expression largely unseen outside of Northern Ireland.

The book will be 240 pages, finished size 250mm x 250mm, printed on 150gsm matt art paper and bound as a soft cover with flaps.

Risks and challenges

There aren't any! The photographs have been taken and the text written. Bluecoat Press are ready to publish the books as soon as funding is completed to cover design and print costs.

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    Signed copy of the book to be collected at the launch event in Liverpool.

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    Signed copy of the book with your name in the acknowledgements and a signed limited-edition fine art print chosen by yourself in consultation with the author.

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    Pledge £85 or more About $133

    A Bluecoat Press bumper package: 5 brilliant photobooks including a signed copy of The Writing on the Wall, John Bulmer's The North, Patrick Ward's Being English, Roy Stuart Clarke's The Homes of Football and Peter Dench's A&E: Alcohol and England.

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    Corporate sponsorship with prominent logo in the book and 20 signed copies of the book.

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Funding period

- (30 days)