Now that I’ve had a bit of time I’ve put together a couple of pages of the street art I photographed during my recent trip to Northern Ireland. I discovered so much I have split it into two pages, one for Belfast City and the other for the pieces I found in the other towns I visited on my trip. A few sample images are shown below.
I was quite excited that travel restrictions were starting to lift after almost 2 years of being kept at home, my mate Jim and I intended to travel to Australia in March and April, but when we looked further into it we discovered that there were still restrictions in place in Singapore and some of the areas we wished to visit, so we decided to hold off until later in the year hoping the restrictions will be lifted. To compensate we thought we would take a short trip to somewhere different but nearby, Northern Ireland came to mind, so after booking everything, off we went.
I was quite pleased to be visiting the area as I was aware that there is an abundance of good quality street art in Ireland, I even found some from our local artists, Smug, RogueOne and Mark Worst, as you can imagine I took loads of photographs during our time there, they can be seen on the following page. Street Art in Northern Ireland
Monday 7th March
Monday morning saw us setting off early for our trip to Cairnryan to catch the 11:00 P&O ferry to Larne. We had an uneventful drive down to the port and arrived in plenty of time before boarding the European Highlander. The crossing went well and for once the Irish Sea was very calm.
Once off the ferry, it was a relatively short journey up to Portrush, we arrived before our check-in time so after parking the car we went for a stroll around town. Our first stop was the Harbour Bar for a Guinness and a chat with a local lad Paul. Leaving the bar looking for a bite to eat, we discovered a nice piece of street art by Dublin based artist Aches of a surfer overlooking the East Strand which is a popular surfing location. A nice nearby restaurant, 55 North was a good place to have a late lunch. On our wander back to the accommodation to check in we came across a mural “Causeway Rebel” dedicated to local boy Andrew Dunbar, a Game of Thrones actor who passed away recently, the mural was painted by Belfast artists KVLR and Sam Barry.
We checked Into our accommodation, The Heart of Portrush Mews, a delightful mews cottage which is fortunately in the centre of town, and after unpacking and exploring the places we went out for a stroll around town stopping off in a nice pub called Kiwis Brew Bar for a few beers, it was a good choice as we were met with loads of friendly people, so much so that we stayed longer than intended. We stopped off for a takeaway Indian meal on the way home, a perfect way to finish off our first day in Northern Ireland Ireland.
Tuesday 8th March
On Tuesday we headed round the corner to catch the 8:00 train to Belfast, the service was very comfortable and speedy and we reached Belfast in good time, on leaving the Lanyon Place station we stopped off for a late breakfast before hitting the city centre where Jim was able to pick up the obligatory Starbucks mugs for Dan. We then used public transport to take us to the Titanic Quarter where we spend a good few hours enjoying the museum and exhibitions, once back in the city centre we did a wee bit of exploring, stopping off for a meal before catching the train home, we decided to stay in on our return, a couple of drinks and some telly before retiring for a well-earned rest.
Wednesday 9th March
We were unlucky in our choice of outing for Wednesday, we had booked a trip to the Giants Causeway and unfortunately, it was pouring down, we had a walking tour and the guide, a young guy called Phill did an excellent job describing the geology and history of the place, and despite the rain, we really enjoyed our visit and found it very informative.
On the way back to Portrush we stopped off to have a look at the ruins of Dunluce Castle, there really wasn’t much to see so we continued along the coast to Portstewart where we had a nice lunch in Morreli’s cafe and a stroll around the town, where we discovered a few good pieces of street art, one of a sea eagle on a large gable was particularly good. We finished off the day by visiting the Portrush Yacht Club for a couple of beers before visiting the Harbour Bar for a meal and a few more beers, we met with Paul again and a load of other nice people and it turned into a bit of a late session.
Thursday 10th March
Thursday morning saw us heading west towards Limavady, we were asked to stop off there by Jim’s in-laws as that is where their family originated from, it was a nice little town but there wasn’t much to hold us there so we headed off to Derry-Londonderry arriving in time for lunch. After lunch we headed down to the Bogside to photograph the murals there, there were quite a few of them, all very political, something I’m not interested in, I was more interested in the quality of the painting, which on the whole was very good. We left for home and after a brief stop in Coleraine to photograph more paintings. Feeling a wee bit tired after our travels we had a quiet(ish) night having a couple of pints in the Quays, a nice gastropub around the corner from the accommodation, to finish off the day.
Friday 11th March.
We caught the 8:00 train to Belfast again today, and after another late breakfast in the Bridge Bar, we set off hunting, this time our target was the street art of the city. A quick visit to the Tourist Information office provided some hints, so off we went walking. Starting off in the Cathedral Quarter we found many good murals and pieces of shutter art in the many entries and closes of the area, of course, we just happened to stop off at The Duke of York, a traditional Belfast bar crammed with original mirrors and memorabilia, boasting cold beer, great Guinness and one of the largest selection of Irish whiskeys in Ireland. The bar is situated in Commercial Court, which has become known as Umbrella Street due to the colourful neon brollies hanging over the street.
Looking for a quick lunch we headed over to St Georges Market and managed to have a look around the various stalls and grab lunch before it closed for the day.
Back in town after lunch, we took more photographs of street art before trying to find somewhere to buy a bottle of Belfast Gin, (we found it quite difficult to find places that sold spirits), eventually, we managed to get our hands on a bottle of Jawbox that met the brief. At the end of a great day in Belfast, we headed back to the train station stopping off at the Crown Liquor Saloon which just happened to be near the station, the Crown, dating back to the 1880s, is a gem of the Victorian era still boasts many of its original features, including gaslighting and many mirrors and stained glass, the pictures below show it almost empty but when we visited at teatime on a Friday night it was packed to the rafters with hardly any room to move, it is certainly an iconic place to visit.
Once back in Portrush we deposited our purchases then returned to Kiwi’s for supper and a beer before retiring for the night, it was a good way to finish off a good day.
Saturday 12th March
As we were required to check out of our accommodation by 10:00, we packed up and loaded up the car. Leaving Portrush behind, and headed along the coast road for a leisurely drive down to Larne. Despite it being closed for the season we stopped off at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge for a look around, it was quite a bit windy making us appreciate why it was closed to the public. We intended to travel down the coast to visit some of the locations used for the filming of Game of Thrones but we came across so many roadworks and diversions that we were taken back inland again towards Ballymena where we stopped off for lunch. We eventually arrived in Larne with plenty of time to kill so we had a wander around town catching some good street art in the process.
The return journey on the ferry was uneventful, we spent it in the cinema watching a movie to pass the time. This was followed by an easy run back home in time for a takeaway meal to finish off the day.
All in all, despite some wet weather we both enjoyed our time in Northern Ireland and reckoned that we would be happy to return some other time.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, I took loads of photographs of street art in the many places we visited, these can be seen on a separate page, which I will add a link to when it is completed.
What we discovered on our return though was a positive Covid test result, meaning that I had time to create this post as I was self-isolating.
I have just returned from a few days in Birmingham, a city I had never visited until now, I must admit that I was very surprised just how much we enjoyed my time there. I visited, with my mate Jim, to attend an interview for a volunteers role at next year’s Commonwealth Games, spending time exploring what the city had to offer. We flew to Birmingham Airport and took a short shuttle ride to the nearby railway station to catch one of the many frequent trains into the city centre. We were booked into the Premier Inn beside New Street Station, which proved to be a great place to stay as its slap bang in the middle of town and close to all the main attractions.
My interview went well and I left feeling quite confident, however, there is no guarantee of a role, but at least I will have tried. Birmingham’s Christmas celebrations had kicked off while we were there with a massive German Christmas Market spread throughout the city centre and a giant Ferris wheel, an ice skating rink and a Walking with The Snowman trail amongst many other attractions.
As many of you know, I love to search out street art while in a new city and Birmingham certainly delivered onthat front too. I was directed to an area known as Digbeth and the Custard Factory, originally built by Alfie Bird to produce Bird’s Custard in 1906, it is now a creative hub and home to many independent shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and galleries, there is even a dedicated graffiti supplies shop.
I discovered art by many artists new to me, some by other other well-known artists, there were also some by artists I have met in Glasgow. I took so many photographs around the area, a sample of some are shown below, the remainder can be seen in a separate page, which can be seen here:
I have been quite busy recently volunteering at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, I was based in the City Chambers in George Square in a Protocol role, this basically was a meet and greet role at the many Civic Receptions being held there. It was good to see the reaction of many of the delegates to the mosaic of the city’s coat of arms at the entrance to the building, and the many other mosaics found throughout the building, on the ceilings and domes, with an estimated 1.5 million individual tiles used and laid by hand. However, the greatest surprise was shown by many delegates when confronted by the marble staircase, made entirely from imported Italian Carrara marble, they were stunned to hear that it’s the biggest of its kind in Western Europe, meaning it’s one storey taller than the one in the Vatican City.
COP26 gave some of our artists a chance to put up some new related works with some on the arches at SWG3 facing towards the SEC Campus. Although I was disappointed to see Guido Van Helten’s badminton player disappear from Wilson Street, I was pleased to see a new mural by the Fearless Collective showing the faces of indigenous leaders who have been at the forefront of the COP26 conference. If you look closely at the top of the mural you can see the top edge of the shuttlecock, a little bit of Guido’s legacy left behind.
While travelling around the city during the conference, I did manage to catch some good street art, with an especially nice piece by Frodrik at the side of CASS Art on Queen Street, a good mural about youth homelessness in Midland Street opposite James Kling’s portraits, but what really pleased me was a little charcoal type drawing of a figure in a doorway on Candleriggs, I noticed that as I made my way down the street after having a rather good pizza in Nonna Said with it’s ghood artwork by Conzothrob, he also pooped up in the St Enoch Centre with a funadvert for the new cinema there. I’ve also included a mural from Mikaku on Queen Street painted by Rogue One.
For my latest trip I stayed south of the river, starting off at the Barn at the Crossroads in Laurieston to see the latest works by EJEK and the kids who visit there, EJEK again displayed his love of Stan Lee’s creations with some Marvel inspired pieces on display. From the Barn it was a short walk to Commerce Street in Tradeston where I came upon a fine piece by @sprayprince on the side wall of the Turning Point Scotland building, it paled slightly when I turned the corner and saw the wonderful mural on the front of the building,
Continuing west found me under the Kingston Bridge where I wandered into a little skatepark built there, almost all of the bridge supports had some form of artwork on them, and judging by the layers of grey paint the council and the writers are keeping each other busy, while there I saw works by Frodrik, Mack Colours, OhPanda, Negative Destination and many other regular names from Glasgow’s streets.
I then headed down to the river bank for a stroll along the footpath there until I reached the Science Centre at Princes Quay, there is loads of new developments taking place in the area and I was pleased to find a nice mural by EJEK on one of the hoardings surrounding one development. Crossing the river heading towards town for a bus home, I had to stop on Custom Quay at the Broomielaw to see if there was anything new, to find only one significant piece which intrigued me, on returning home I checked out the artist and his organisation called Make Coffee not War, and the reason for his mural, I found it all, and the drone footage to be quite interesting.
I had an interesting day recently, I headed East to Knockhill Racing Circuit with my mate Jim to see the British Touring Car Championships, the weather was kind to us and we had a great day’s racing with loads of thrills and spills.
Like the last time we visited, we headed over to Cowdenbeath after the racing for a meal and to see latest mural by local artist Kerry Wilson. Her new work, in the square in the centre of the town, is opposite the one of the girl with the dandelion clock I photographed the last time we visited, this one is of a little boy playing with some Lego toys and again the scale of the piece and the quality of her artwork in the town is staggering.
I really enjoy visiting Cowdenbeath, as I mentioned the last time I visited, Kerry, assisted by the local school pupils, also produces some striking pieces of shutter art which really brightens up the High Street after the shops close, I have added some of them this time including a nice painting of a boy at the entrance to the library. I think I may have to create a new section of the site devoted to shutter art as more and more of it is appearing these days.
My next trip out started in Sauchiehall Lane, where I had been heard of a mural by Mark Worst, I found it at the rear of Broadcast next to another of OhPanda’s Big Heids, I must admit that they are in a location I wouldn’t normally visit, but I thought the work by both of them were worth the effort.
My plan was to go from there down to the Broomielaw and head back into the city along the riverbank, while there it was good to see Smug’s swimmers, a large mural he created for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I also revisited the mural created in 2019 by the Cobolt Collective, featuring words by Glasgow poet Liz Lochhead, to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Glasgow’s Doors Open Days Festival.
Further along the Broomielaw I discovered a little monument to the merchant ships lost during the Spanish Civil War, I wasn’t so much interested in the politics behind it, but as an ex merchant navy officer, I thought it was touching how it celebrates those British sailors who, in open defiance of the British Government’s wishes, risked their lives to run the blockade of Spanish ports to deliver much-needed food supplies to Republican territory during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Further along Custom House Quay there is La Pasionaria” with her arms outstretched and her face raised in a gesture of defiance. La Pasionaria” (“The Passion Flower”) was the pen name of Dolores Ibárruri, a Spanish Republican politician, communist, and prominent anti-fascist propagandist during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Her statue was commissioned by The International Brigades Association of Glasgow as a memorial to British citizens who served in the brigades during the war.
My trip to the riverbank was finished off by a look at the many pieces of graffiti on the Clyde Walkway, this almost seems like the nearest thing to a legal wall in Glasgow and although to many it looks ugly, I can see some talents emerging, one of whom is Frodrik, his tribute to the rapper MK Doom stands out, he is one of Glasgow’s rising stars, another who pops up regularly is Negative Destination, his cartoon characters certainly add some bright colour to the area, his “The Beast Tamer and his Best Friend” on the hoarding round the Lidl store on Jamaica Street is a bit of fun, his comment on it was “When you see a long wall the only option is to fill it with a long ass painting”.
Into the city for some shopping and lunch before heading for home after another nice day in the city, On the way home I got off the bus in Victoria Road to visit Westmorland Street to see a mural in a little park, depicting what the South Side community means to the local children, the works created by them were faithfully recreated by artist Beth Shapeero and mural artist Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng on the wall of a tenement building where the old Hampden cinema and Claddagh Club once stood.
Now that things are starting to open up again and the weather has improved a bit, I got out with my camera to capture some of the newest artwork appearing on Glasgow’s wall, I was spoiled for choice. My first stop was the Viceroy bar at the Paisley Road Toll where Rogue One has certainly brightened up the beer garden, there is even some room for his pets.
I then crossed the river to SWG3 a favourite location for Glasgow’s street art fans, again I wasn’t disappointed, especially with the opening of it’s new gallery “Yard Life”
Out and about on the street also threw up some new pieces, one from Frodrik in Sauchiehall Lane , near Rogue One’s Guitarist was particularly striking. The Rebel Bear continues to entertain me, this time in the Candleriggs with his falling couple, on my way towards my bus I passed that famous Glasgow landmark where a Katie Smith has created a nice piece on their boarding, it’s just a shame that it is a temporary piece, once on thew southside I headed to the Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road where I found another of the Southside’s BLM murals by King Listy, this time of the poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
There won’t be much time for street art this month as I’m committed myself to volunteering at the EURO2020 being held at Hampden and the Fan Zone in Glasgow Green, once things quieten down I’ll share some photographs from the event.
I had a musical month in January with the 27th outing of Glasgow’s winter music festival, Celtic Connections. My volunteering role as an Artist Liaison meant that I met many great artists from near and far, heard some fabulous music, and met friends old and new amongst the many other volunteers at the festival, at many of the great venues around the city. A few of my favourites being the MacKintosh Church, St Luke’s and the Old Fruitmarket.
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The 18 days of music and events brightened up the dark January nights for me with a great mixture of concerts, late-night sessions and even The National Whisky Festival at SWG3 where good food and whisky were to be found with loads of great food, especially that offered up at Julie’s Kopitiam at the Acid Bar
After listening to so much of it, I have starting to enjoy Traditional Scottish Folk music from bands such as the ever-popular Ímar, who more than satisfied a capacity audience at the City Halls, Rura, The Ciaran Ryan Band, and many new and up and coming musicians such as Hannah Rarity, a new album was launched on the night by Chris Gray at Oran Mor. 2019’s Danny Kyle Winners, young talented multi-instrumentalist Malin Lewis the ever-popular (and busy) Sam Mabbet from The Canny Band and Luc McNally showcased new work while supporting Miller, MacDonald & Cormier.
The Finnish ‘Nordgrass’ band Frigg supplied an interesting mix of Nordic tradition and American bluegrass in their music, theirs was a sell-out at the City Halls and judged by their CD sales on the night, were extremely popular. The concerts are hugely popular with a mix of old oldies and the young, they make for a great fun night out.
The Roaming Roots Revue in the Old Fruitmarket saw a full house (following a full house the previous night at the Royal Concert Hall) being presented with ‘Born To Run’, a 70th-birthday tribute to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, this was a fantastic night with Roddy Hart And The Lonesome Fire’s house band supporting guest singers such as Lisa Hannigan, Karine Polwart, Craig Finn, Jonathan Wilson, Ryan Bingham, The Rails and Glasgows own Phil Campbell.
I even managed to take in a little bit of soul with the fantastic J.P. Bimeni and his backing band, The Black Belts, who set Oran Mor on fire with a similar tremendous soul-filled set, it was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and as another volunteer said: “That guy is a superstar, why have I never heard of him before?”
As usual, some street art appeared through the month with the St Luke’s and the Winged Ox mural by SMUG, and me finding a mural in tribute to late Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison by Alex Coyle, in Allison Street in the southside of Glasgow. Alex stated that he wished to raise some awareness for the charity Tiny Changes set up in Scott’s name following his death.
Also new this month is EJEK‘s latest in a series of pieces at the entrance of Ad Lib on Hope street, this time it’s a fine portrait of Aretha Franklin, it certainly is worth popping frequently as the mural at the door is changed by him on a regular basis.
I have been informed that some people are finding it difficult to navigate through my website, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to redesign it to make things easier. I would welcome your comments and thoughts on what improvements you would like to see.
I would also like to update the Glasgow Street Art section of the site to make it more prominent, again I would welcome your thoughts.