Belfast artist Colin Davidson’s exhibition ‘Silent Testimony’ is on show at the Long Gallery in Stormont until the 30th of April, so we took the opportunity to revisit this powerful series of paintings.
This moving and thought-provoking exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It reveals the stories of eighteen people who have suffered loss through the Troubles.
Colin Davidson is well known for his large-scale portraits of actors, musicians, poets, and writers. In Silent Testimony, he turns his attention to ordinary people and their experiences. The exhibition is a reflection on the human impact of the conflict and how it continues to affect individuals, families, and communities.
Each portrait has a short accompanying text, explaining how the sitter was impacted by the Troubles. For example, Flo O’Riordan, second left in the photo above, lost her son Sean on 23rd March 1972 when he was killed on Cawnpore Street in west Belfast. Sean received a gunshot wound to the back of the head and died a short time later in hospital. He was thirteen years old and was the second of six children.
Mary Finnis, pictured below, lost her son Rory who was shot dead in June 1991. Rory’s body was found barefoot and hooded behind shops in the Creggan Estate in Derry. He had last been seen with a close friend in a city centre pub five days before his body was found.
This is a powerful and moving exhibition, and has lost nothing of its impact since its first showing in 2015. In the same way that the book ‘Lost Lives’ provides an insight into the huge effect of the Troubles on Northern Ireland simply by recounting each death in a way that its co-author David McKittrick described as “unemotional and flat as possible”, Colin Davidson’s paintings quietly portray how the conflict has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on thousands of individuals
‘Silent Testimony’ is free to view, but you need to book a ticket in advance. If you don’t get a chance to see it, Colin Davidson’s website shows all the portraits with accompanying notes.