Poignant portraits of people affected by Troubles returns to Ulster Museum

·2-min read
(l-r) With Mo Norton’s portrait are artist Colin Davidson, Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI ,and Dennis Godfrey of WAVE (NMNI/PA)
(l-r) With Mo Norton’s portrait are artist Colin Davidson, Kathryn Thomson, chief executive of National Museums NI ,and Dennis Godfrey of WAVE (NMNI/PA)

Poignant portraits of those affected by Northern Ireland’s troubled past have returned to the Ulster Museum.

Silent Testimony by 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 exhibition.

“Silent Testimony reveals the individual and collective suffering of these 18 people in a way that words cannot,” he said.

“All ostensibly have different identities but are bound by a unique and shared experience of loss.

“When creating the portraits, I wanted to convey each first and foremost as a human being who had suffered as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland and to silently articulate that experience.”

Mo Norton with her Portrait (2)
Mo Norton with her Portrait (2)

Mo Norton, who features in one of the paintings, described the experience as “cathartic”.

She said: “Myself and the other sitters were from all different religious, political and cultural backgrounds, but we were bound by a deep sense of trauma and loss.

“We had all been deeply affected by the Troubles, irrespective of the identities imposed on us by society, and Colin has sensitively depicted our shared vulnerability in this exhibition.”

The exhibition marks the return of Silent Testimony to the Ulster Museum after it was first displayed there in 2015.

It is part of National Museums NI’s 100 Years Forward programme which marks the centenaries of Partition and the creation of Northern Ireland.

Kim Mawhinney, senior curator of art, National Museums NI, said the exhibition has toured extensively since it was last shown at the Ulster Museum.

She said: “The exhibition has reinforced the power of art as a medium to reflect and to encourage dialogue and debate.

“With this sensitive and intimate exhibition, Colin has brilliantly evoked the depth of emotion in each sitter, and their connectedness through personal loss, reminding us that at our core, we are all human.”

The exhibition will run until January 2022. Admission is free. For more information and to book tickets visit www.nmni.com/um.

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