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Bogside Artist, Tom Kelly, to Speak at Swarthmore

For Immediate Release: October 4, 2007
Contact: Marsha Nishi Mullan

Bogside Artist, Tom Kelly, to Speak at Swarthmore

Bogside Artist of Northern Ireland, Tom Kelly, will speak at Swarthmore College on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 4:15 p.m. in the Scheuer Room, Kohlberg Hall. Kelly is one of three muralists from Derry known as The Bogside Artists who have created 11 stunning murals depicting key events in the recent troubled history of their country. The group continues the Northern Irish tradition of murals as vehicles for social commentary, using their murals as tools to advance the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.

Tom Kelly's lifelong friend, Kevin Hasson, and later his brother William, joined him and formed The Bogsiders in 1993. They completed their first joint mural in October 1994. All three were profoundly disenchanted with the gallery circuit and how it was run. All three had grown up in the Bogside and had witnessed the worst of the troubles in Derry. They agreed that it was necessary for the Bogsiders to take back their own story from the milling machine of the British media and to tell it in a way that both uplifted and instructed.

The Battle of the Bogside (Irish: Cath Thaobh an Phortaigh) was a very large communal riot between the mostly unarmed residents of the Bogside area of Derry city in Northern Ireland allied under the Derry Citizens Defense Association and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The rioting took place in Derry, Northern Ireland, August 12th through August 14th, 1969, after the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) attempted to disperse nationalists who were protesting a loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry parade along the city walls, past the nationalist Bogside area of the city. Rioting continued for three days in the Bogside. The RUC were unable to enter the area, however, and the British Army was deployed to restore order. The riot, which sparked widespread violence elsewhere in Northern Ireland, is commonly seen as one of the first major confrontations in the conflict known as The Troubles.

Playwright Brian Friel described The Bogside Murals as follows: "The work is remarkable in that it is simultaneously a vibrant response to events still vivid in the psyche of the community and, even as it testifies, it transcends those immediate passions and proposes an historian's distance and objectivity. The work says: You know the people in these pictures because they are your neighbors and your allies and you know what they endured...This is work of conscious ostentation, of deliberate defiance. It is work Diego Rivera would have approved of. But it has delicacy too. Every mural explains but also embraces. Every mural instructs but at the same time has the intimacy and consolations of a family photograph."

Kelly's visit is supported by the Serendipity Fund of the William J. Cooper Foundation and has been organized by Sharon Friedler, Stephen Lang Professor of Performing Arts and director of the Dance Program and Randy Exon, professor of Studio Art. His talk is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Sharon Friedler at or Randy Exon at Also see



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